FAQ: Google home vs Alexa

Now that there’s a Google home mini I’m intrigued on adding one to my collection. I already have three Alexa’s but I’m looking to see what the home automation applications would be with Google home that can be done via Alexa and SmartThings. If you have either let me know your thoughts.

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Different things will work for different people. Really the best thing is just to get one of each and try them, and then return the one you like least.

For our household, as of October 2017, echo works better for the following reasons:

One) echo groups are just much more flexible because we get to decide what goes into each group. And with the new announced “smart groups” which are supposed to be available starting in November, the groups will get even better because you’ll be able to associate a group to a specific echo device. But even without that new feature, With echo, you can put each device into more than one group, which lets you arrange things however you want it to be. You can have a “downstairs” group, a “bedtime” group, a “all lights” Group that doesn’t actually turn off the night lights, etc. And if one person says “office” and another person says “den” we just have two groups with the same devices in them.

Google tries to guess what groups a device should be in, and it just often gets it wrong.

Two) echo’s farfield recognition is amazing. And you can approach it from any side and it will work. Our home has an open floor plan and we found Google home would Miss things when approached from one side.

  1. we use video calling on the show quite a bit

  2. The echo implementation of home theatre equipment control, particularly when used with harmony and Roku, works much better for the way we use it. But we don’t use Chromecast.

Google was better at answering random questions, but we don’t ask The Voice assistant random questions very much. We use our phone/tablets for that.

Google’s IFTTT implementation is nicer because you don’t have to say “trigger” but for us that didn’t make up for the issues with groups. And as of November 2017, you can now get custom freezing by using echoes “routines” and having it turn on a virtual switch in SmartThings which then is the if in and IFTTT sequence. So the set up isn’t as intuitive as Google’s, but once you do have it set up, the end result is the same. :sunglasses:

So both platforms are good, there are some differences, and again I would just recommend getting one of each and returning the one you don’t like as much.

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So, not sure how long ago your experience was. But, Google Home did not self assign any groups when I first set mine up (~ 4 months ago). I had to do all of the grouping assignments manually. Agreed that using devices in multiple groups would be nice. I got around that with Trendsetter and routines.

Not being argumentative at all… Just saying that if the only reason to choose Alexa over Home is grouping, then there are rather simple workarounds (that may not have been available when you first tried them)

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FYI…Google Home device can be assigned to a room as of yesterday. Indeed Google’s limitation of only allowing devices to be part of one room, is annoying, but one can find workarounds to that. One of the bigest advantages with Google Home are the “shortcuts”, which allow users to basically overwrite any awkward commands, to better suit individual speech preference. If you don’t like to say turn on the garage door., you can easily overwrite that command phrase with “open the garage door”. I find that feature on google home worth the investment as a companion to any Alexa enabled devices not necessarily as a substitute. lol

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I think he is specifically saying that Google Home will attempt to guess what lights you want to turn on/off. For example with the Echo in my master bedroom I can say “Alexa turn on the Master Bedroom Lights” and my main master bedroom light will turn on…

If I do the same with the Google home it will turn on every light I have in my master bedroom because it tries to guess what lights I want to turn on which includes a light strip behind my TV and a bloom on the TV stand below the TV.

If I ask Google Home to turn off the TV it will tell me that it turned off 7 lights because it sees 7 switches that include TV somewhere in them in my entire house.

it’s a little weird and I’m not sure if it has improved but that’s my experience. I’m really hoping that with the new location setting that I will finally be able to control more than one harmony hub based on the location of the echo and the hub.

There are some elements about GH that I like such as with Alexa when I ask it to turn on a light it responds with “OK” whereas if I ask GH to turn on a single light by name such as the dining room light it will respond with the actual device name “Turning on the Dining Room Light”

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Harmony has no plans to enable additional hub controls with Alexa, but EchoSistant does (hint, hint)…

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I can already turn on and off TVs in multiple places and since I have the GH I can control volume/pause/etc on more than one hub as well… but I do like where you seem to be going with EchoSistant and look forward to Ver 5.

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Exactly. We had four rooms with ceiling lights in them. That was no issue with echo, we just put them in the group we wanted each to be in. But if my housemate was in his room and said “turn off the ceiling light” to google home, it would also turn off the ceiling light in my room!

Again, both devices are improving all the time, so a lot comes down to the way you want to use it. That’s why I always suggest people just try both.

At our house we have three housemates, everybody’s friends and family, plus health assistance. We have one room that for some reason gets called by a bunch of different names. I say “office”, one of my housemates says “den,” The other housemates says “study,” one of my aides says “the little room.” This was super easy to address with echo, we just made a group for each of those names and put the same devices in each of those four groups. We never could find a way to get it to work with Google home. It’s easy to say to people should remember, but the people don’t remember!

If you live by yourself, or you are all members of one family, you would probably all use the same name for the room, so it won’t be a problem. But for us it was a big problem.

Plus, we have a lot of zones that we set up for different things. I have a “bedtime” group which is a couple of lights from each of three rooms and basically create a path for when I’m on my way to bed. So when I say “echo, turn on bedtime” that pathway gets lit. Then I can turn it off again after I’m in bed. Again, we couldn’t find a good way to do that with Google home.

But there are other people who find it super annoying to have to say “trigger” for an IFTTT phrase. For them, Google home is a much more elegant solution.

So, both are good devices, people use them in somewhat different ways, and I think the easiest approach is just to try it and see what you like best. :sunglasses:

JMO

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I have both Google home and Alexa. I always use Alexa, until yesterday, Google home now allows me to cast my nest security camera’s to my to… I’ve been looking for this feature for a long time. Now all I have to say is “ok Google, show me the driveway” and it’s up on my TV.

This feature is available with echo as well, but only if you also have a fire TV. Or an echo show if you want to see the video on the echo show.

It works with any camera that has a scale that works with the echo show, which includes nest cam, Arlo, and ring. Not sure what other brands. :sunglasses:

At our house, we have Echo Show and FireTV, so we’ve been using it for a while. It’s nice.

Again, different things work for different households, because it’s going to depend on what mix of devices you have.

Does the Google feature require that you have chromecast on that television? Because we don’t have chromecast.

Just wait until EchoSistant version 5 is released… You’ll be able to do things with Alexa you’ve not been able to do before!

Yes it requires chromecast. I thought Alexa on worked on Alexa look… I also have a fire tv. I’m going to try to get that working tonight… If Alexa can cast nest to my fire tv box I’ll be very happy :)… Can it cast to the firestick as well?.. I really do like Alexa better than Google home…

Looking forward to EchoSistant… I haven’t installed any version yet but I will when the new version is released.

It works with the second generation fire TV stick, but not the first generation.

the capability is available on all Fire TVs and second-generation Fire TV sticks to customers in the US, UK, and Germany.

Both companies are adding features so fast, it’s hard to keep up! :sunglasses:

This is very true. I believe within another year third part apps are going to be pretty much useless… Except for EchoSistant of course!

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Of course I have a Google Chromecast and Amazon Echos. Now I either have to buy and Amazon Fire Stick or a Google Home. I’ll probably do the Fire Stick because of all of the “extra” TV viewing options you can get with the Kodi hack.

There’s a deal right now for the fire TV stick plus a dot for $60. :wink:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0758XXCSC/

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If you want a Chromcast, a Google Home and a lot more “extra” TV options, I would look into Shield TV. It has them all in one, plus some…

That has all of the stuff that the Kodi hack gets you? Interesting.