A Side By Side Comparison
Yesterday I unboxed a new Google Home device and set it up next to our Amazon Echo in our family room.
I realize I have the Google Home set up backwards. I did it that way because of the power cords.
I’ve been trying the same questions and requests of both of them and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.
So far, I’m liking Google Home a bit better. It handles the basic search-like queries better.
And the jazz playlist I got from Google Home was better than the one I got from Echo.
I am going to dig into third party skills next. I like this suggestion from Chris:
@fredwilson make sure to get the bike share skill for Alexa – super useful when finding which station nearby has bikes in the am
— Chris Kurdziel (@ckurdziel) January 2, 2017
If you have any suggestions for my side by side test, please leave them in the comments. I am particularly interested in third party skills to try out for both devices.
Yeah. I loved that tweet
The Russians will be involved, if they do 🙂
It has already happened! https://www.youtube.com/wat…
Hahahaha…That’s hysterical. Thanks for sharing Rick!
I think our jobs are safe from being taken over by AI for a while longer.
It is funny and a bit sad at the same time, shows how little love is put into products these days.
Google Home vs Alexa vs Siri vs Cortana:* http://uk.businessinsider.c…Well, Google Home’s clearly a male “homeboiii” whilst the others are female (Alexa = Greek, Siri = Norse and also Swahili, and Cortana’s Latin-Anglo-French) so …Even if they do parlent …https://uploads.disquscdn.c…
Ask them both to send the results of searches to your phone.
I asked for a complete list of my questions since purchase and *Alexa* did not understand. Someone is collecting that meta data, no doubt.
I know that I’m alone here and I understand that I will probably end up surrendering myself to this type of gadgets, but aren’t you worried about more always-on mics in your house?I know we all carry a phone everywhere and that is the ultimate privacy invading/leaking device, but I find my phone easier to (almost) control. It is more present in my mind, so I can leave it somewhere else, pull the battery out…
I feel similarly.”pull the battery out”??? Is that even an option on modern smartphones anymore?
LG G5, but wilderness hiking will become the new mass sport.
I’m still in a G4, but yes, LG seems to be the only manufacturer doing removable batteries atm.
LG holding out against the NSA, which I admire.
If they give up I think I will start selling faraday phone cases 🙂
:)The G6 is coming. Start selling.
Only in a few ones. I went from Samsung to LG just for that. Not only because of privacy paranoia, batteries suck and having a spare one is more comfortable than external batteries. Also, when they deteriorate you can replace it easily and keep your phone for a longer time.
This is practical, wise, environmentally-friendly, and a healthy consumer-minimalist approach. Kudos.
The google home has the ability to be turned off (the mic) – alexa can only be unplugged…but that being said, I don’t think/worry about it…yet…
I have a smartphone and use all kind of apps. I care about privacy, but I don’t want to lock myself in a cave. However, I try to evaluate new risks and put them in context with what the new device brings me. This new category doesn’t make the cut just yet.Btw, check myaccount.google.com > My Activity > Other Google activity > Google Play Sound Search HistoryListening to your own voice is scary. Of course, search and browsing history is also scary, but there is something different with voice.
From my New Year’s Eve blog post:”not saying or doing anything online that you would not do in public, because that is where you are doing it.”
Precisely! I’m hesitant to put an online mic in my home because I know that whatever info it gets, it can (will) eventually end up being public.
I’m with you on this. I do many things in my house that aren’t public. That is one of the purposes of a house, yes? When I am writing an email, texting or posting a comment I agree I assume it is going to be public, but if I’m in my underwear in my house? Certainly not acceptable public behavior, I tape all of the camera’s except the rear one in the iPhone
I wonder if and how some of these devices may violate federal and/or state wiretap laws.For example I have cctv at the office and found out that the mics are enabled by default and record to the dvr. From what I was able to tell that is a violation in my state. At least technically for perhaps the cameras located outside where one of the people being taped is not present (meaning the owner of the camera). Two party consent vs. one party consent.
That is a really interesting angle. I always think about the legal implications of storing so much data, specially if you lose it, but you are right that there are also implications at the collection level.
Yep.Example of one party consent (NY):http://www.dmlp.org/legal-g…Example of two party consent (PA):http://www.dmlp.org/legal-g…With respect to phone recordings there is also potentially where one party is in a one party consent state and the other is in a two party consent state. Can theoretically at least charges be filed in the two party state for an action that is in a one party state? And what if the resulting recording resides in a two party state? Doesn’t matter who wins or what happens in the end, bottom line is ‘leg to stand on’ to cause grief?Can of worms. Luckily only a very small chance of a large thing happening at least to a small player.And then there is Hipaa. On a rental property that I own I wanted to install cctv cameras and notified multiple tenants. One was a psychiatrist who absolutely freaked out and got his lawyer involved saying it was a violation of hipaa. . I determined that it wasn’t but it’s a grey area for sure. In that case I should have just installed the cameras w/o notification and ‘asked for forgiveness’ (not really..)
Yeap, big can of worms. I can envision many accidental breaches that you don’t even need Google or Amazon failing to create uncomfortable situations that can have legal implications.Your case has reminded me of the story this summer about facebook asking psychiatrist’s patients to friend her and other patients, probably because of them going to the same location or all of them having her phone number:http://www.businessinsider….
You’re not alone. I wonder about the amount of data being collected through the mic, but I still have Alexa listening every day in my house.But it does open the possibility for beneficial use cases… What if Alexa (or Google) could listen to background noise, voices, and words and predict with a high degree of certainty that a break-in was occurring and summon the police?Personally, I think it would be fun if the wake word could be “Bezos.” As in: “Hey, Bezos, what’s the weather today?” Servant leadership.
I agree that there are interesting use cases, I’m just not sure if the trade offs in privacy are worth the benefits of those use cases.In any case, I’m just talking about me, everyone should be free to decide what they allow into their houses. I understand that maybe I value privacy more than the average person.
Play it a Donald Trump speech. It will switch itself off.
We put both side by side too this Xmas (had Alexa, just got Google Home) and in 24 hours Google Home made the cut (alexa happily was demoted to my 13-year old’s bedroom)When one of them connects with Sonos we will be in music heaven.
I thought Echo did that?
That was going to be my question – if they connect to Sonos. We just put one in and other than the fact my husband set all them up as Dining Room which makes it super confusing when I’m trying to figure out which room is which, I love it.
You can use Yonomi for connecting to Sonos on Alexa. A little funky but it works.
Will try that. Thx!
What this video is making me think is that there are at least two types of requests you can make of one of these devices and what the impact would be to me personally.One would be annoying and the other would not.The annoying requests would be anything that you have to wait for an answer which essentially stalls you in place until you have a result. Example “population of Greece” or “tell me the temperature”. Non annoying would be “play this song”. Doesn’t hold you up.The difference? In case one problematic to have to sit and wait. And if you go on to something else even for a second you will miss the reply. The other (say a song) doesn’t matter you can begin another activity and the song will just start playing (or the lights will turn off/on etc.).The pause seemed forever to me. Reminds me of 300 baud back in the day.
Google is going to continue winning your tests because of its huge lead over Amazon in their machine learning and artificial capabilities, which are superior & they have more experience in it.I would also try the IFTTT link-up, because that opens up another level of integration capabilities.
Ask them both to send you more detergent.
Siri? Siri, are you there?
Who’s Siri? Man Apple really dropped the ball there. Remember, they were first. Might be time to short that stock.
I am still holding out for Apple to buy Sonos…With the Play 5 reved 1-2 yrs ago – it now has a mic in it….Then I would prefer to fill my house v Play 1 Version 2’s (waiting for Sonos to rev play bar and Play 1 – with mics).
I wrote the Math Mania skill for alexa (about a year ago) if you want to give it a try.I am going to release something for the google home soon too, but haven’t had a ‘production worthy’ idea for it yet.Btw – playing your owned music is way better/cheapr on alexa (google requires a subscription to listen to your own music – STUPID)
That is EVIL.
interesting to see someone else’s ‘jobs to be done’ requirements when evaluating products. especially when it comes to super broad platform product like these.i don’t think jazz or any other playlist “creation” would be in my top 10 requirements.shows why a product manager/designer job is so hit and miss.infinite arbitrary desires/ finite resources.
Is that because you don’t like Jazz or because you wouldn’t ask for any playlist?
Google Home watch Whiplash. It’s a movie based around a Jazz drummer
btw – single BEST feature of Google Home…say:Hey google, give me a beat.
i’m down with jazz!But I don’t think I’d ask Echo/Home to *curate* a playlist for me.Sure, they can play one from my integrated music services – but curate? I see them at best doing a subpar job to Spotify etc – so why target that.Point being: their music curation abilities wouldn’t factor into my general purchase decision.Form factor/speed/accuracy/integration options my top 4 requirements.
Definition a factor? As in hi res music or movies?
spotify does a worse job at that to be honest
Well it is a speaker…so I would assume that playing music of some sort would be in most people’s top 10 requirements (in fact, prob. 1, 2, or 3).I’ve had my Alexa for over a year and would say 95% of what I actually use it for is just playing music (it’s in the kitchen and works great in the mornings as I get the kid’s breakfast and their lunches ready for school).Outside of music, the next biggest thing is prob. ‘tell me the weather report’ or ‘tell me the news’…everything else I do with it is still mostly ‘gadget-y’ or ‘gimmick-y’ and therefore a very temp. fad…so far.
was referring to playlist ‘creation/curation’ not play music generally.
Oh – then agree with you.Actually, when you don’t subscribe to Google Premium and try to ask the device for a specific song or playlist (from your owned music already in google play)…it will give you a ‘related’ playlist or song instead (infuriating experience as a new user)I wasn’t sure if it was just not understanding my request or what…had to google around for awhile before finally finding a ‘bug report’ thread (filled with people) that explained it’s “by design” and the only way to play your specifically owned music is to become a subscriber to the premium service (9.99/mo)…which SUCKS.I’m assuming enough “new” users are going to be complaining about it over this month that *hopefully* they’ll rethink and fix that situation…until then, my Alexa remains the winner in my house…
Google bought Songza which was a service I loved. Songza was tech applied loosely to a bunch of music nerds who created a lot of awesome playlists.
Jess Bachman:don’t fall in love with anything Google engineers create because soon as millions enjoy it they will create something else with their never ending free time killing apps and replacing them. Lets see if we can remember the important Google killed apps.Google ReaderKnolGoogle BuzzPicnikHelpoutsGoogle Talk replaced HangoutsPostiniGoogle Adwords Keyword ToolGoogles Web hosting Services will be closed in one year. (If a business hosted a website, uploaded files, photos, etc. needto migrate that content to another Google service or competitor)Are you getting the picture?
Why do I *need* this product?
because without it you are only talking to the walls.
You know me too well 🙂
I’m an all-in Spotify user and Spotify has great integration with Alexa/Echo (even setting is as your default music source).And Sonos/Alexa integration is due this month (it’s been announced by both companies). So soon it will be “Play my xyz playlist in the kitchen.”My other primary uses:- adding todo’s to Todoist (again, properly integrated)- adding items to a shared family groceries list in AnyList (a bit of a hack using IFTTT and iOS Reminders)- quick kitchen timers
I’m not a Spotify user. I use Rhapsody (now called Napster) and SoundCloud
Rhapsody? Old school.
yup, that’s me
My artistic side by side suggestion.The Alexa to the right framed by the cream coloured wall, and the Home to the left framed by the red brick building.You really collect art? ;)#7 you may not question the bartender’s taste.
Pls do. It makes me think
Dirt on the cream colored wall is a pet peeve of mind. I immediately noticed it but didn’t want to mention until your ‘pls do’. If it bothers you as well you can offer anonymously to power wash it off periodically at no cost to the building owner.  Most people won’t do this because there is no social proof that people do things like this.
Try an art class in composition?Look at the way Robert Frank frames his photographs. Shape, and form, and juxtaposition.With a little more consideration today’s objects could be presented through art and not just as tech.
Google was a little late to the party. It would take a killer feature to make Echo owners divest, especially if they have more than 3-4 Alexa enabled devices. This is clearly a case where first to make it into a household and prove some level of value and engagement wins.Promoting 6 for 5 Echo dots and enhancing existing Fire tablets was a master stroke. Google is shut out of my house of 1 Echo, 1 Tap, 6 Dots & 2 Fires unless it can slice bread and catch mice (actually Lady Bugs in my case).
Dunno, it’s still an early adopter market, I presume. In my case, I have none, but am more inclined (or biases) toward the Google one. There is still room for Google I think to capture a portion of the uncaptured market if they make the appropriate effort of iterating on the product. If they’re just being a lame copycat, they’ll fail. As far as making Echo users move to Google: much harder indeed.
Over 5m Alexa speaker devices according to http://files.constantcontac… (not including Fire or Voice enabled remotes for their TV products). The $49 dot ($39 during holiday promos) was the gateway drug. Google will need to come up with a entry level model to thwart the adoption of the Dot.On another note, I think Echo Dot will start to affect sales of Sonos as consumers hook up their Dots to receivers, Bluetooth Speakers and analog amplified speakers they had lying around.
The early adopters phase then. Good time for Google and (maybe?) Apple to enter the market. What draws me to Google personally is the integration with Chromecast and the ability to control YouTube (and eventually Netflix) with always-on voice commands. It’s all about what ecosystem one is most vested in, all other things being equal.
i thought the dot can’t stand alone
Boom. http://www.androidcentral.c…Google back in the game with Nvidia’s assist. The spot is closer to what I envision, with every future light switch retrofitted with connected mic and light bulbs with basic speakers. No cords please.On a sidenote on retrofits, I see Ring announced the Floodlight Cam, which is a better retrofit than the Stickup Cam. I’d love to see these devices with mesh networks that can envelope a property.
I’d also recommend the Yonomi app (not sure if it exists for Android yet but you can run it on an iPad and also install on Alexa). It’s not super user friendly but their Alexa skill means you can also control the Sonos using Alexa (“Alexa turn Sonos on/off” or “Alexa set the Sonos to 30%”). I’ve also heard Sonos may be adding an official Alexa skill/support pretty soon…
Will do. Thanks Chris. Keep em coming. Makes me think there is a niche publishing opportunity (the third party skills blog)
I was developing skills with Amazon Echo and the biggest show stopper is on the Interactive skills where Echo expects you to keep talking or it cuts down the interaction. A frequency of 15 seconds idle time. For example if you are using a interactive skill and trying to write down notes or something before next interaction you got 15 seconds and Amazon SDK is not providing a way to control that.
Agree – there are def. a lot of limitations via the SDK right now…idle time limit is a tough one for sure.The biggest challenge I found was in trying to develop things that aren’t really “open-ended” conversations…meaning you need to try and lead people to use specific words/language (and you need to provide as many examples of that for training data as possible).I think it’s a whole new skill to be able to do this without sounding/feeling like a ‘dumb’ robot. The UI/UX of sound (and most of us *really* suck at it so far).
I haven’t played around with these devices. I got an echo for a present and gave it to my step daughter since I didn’t have any use for it. It didn’t solve any problem at least from what I could see.The biggest challenge I foundWhat I want to know though is if there is an opportunity for a 3rd party company, (like a Twilio), to enable developers to use this by tying in something in the cloud and making it easier than it is currently w/o that intermediary. Make it simpler if it is already not simple.(Or is the answer to my question ‘you can already do this now with existing tools provided by Amazon’?)
I think most 3rd party companies will be looking to put the features directly into their products (i.e. thing X has Alexa ability). At least that is what it feels like they are pushing even more than the ‘build a skill’ stuff.IMHO – the big ‘tech’ thing both of these platforms do for you is the ‘speech to text’ translation…they pass it to your web service in a nicely packaged REST call (JSON formatted)…and so then it’s up to you to develop a good back-and-forth and value.Not unlike Twitter or Facebook in the early days – they give you massive early distribution and simple API hooks – but since it’s new/early tech and platforms, it’s unclear what they actually want to own/do (pretty sure they don’t even really know yet)…and so it’s fun and easy to play with some prototypes and ideas, but it’s also too early/scary to try and build a real business that would rely on either of these things…
Albert Wenger thinks it’s a trap.
I remember commenting on that post of his as well…trouble is, it’s a really good trap and there are always new/young/hungry devs. that are going to be willing to happily walk right into it 😉
The killer app is the Alexa Woof Woof skill. “Alexa, enable the Woof Woof skill.” Then, “Alexa, Woof Woof.” It’ll keep your doggie busy for 15 minutes.
I love that one.
Me too. I’ll admit that I’ve used youtube many times to confuse/entertain my dog 🙂
Today i tried out the Xiaomi Mi Mix with miui 8. I think you may love it too. The future, but now.
Nice. I’ve had a MAX Prime 64GB for a week and really enjoying it too. Did you buy one or try it in a store / via a friend?(the MAX is very comparable to the MIX, but 1/3 of the price)
In a store in England. Owned personally by an assistant. He imported it from China. The phone is not officially available in the UK.It has the same physical size as the iPhone 7 Plus but is in another league with the screen coverage, although the PPI is sub 400. Not the ‘perfect’ device, but definitely a step change.I’ll check out the Max.Edit: I checked it. Even wider and taller than the Mix. One handed function saves it. As you observe a great price. Not too big?
no, the size is perfect for handling with one hand; and it’s amazing for reading and everything. I don’t know how i survived on 5.5 inches before and 5 prior to that or 4 even before 🙂
I’ll be waiting for CES to wrap up and then choose. I think I’ll skip the 5 and 5.5 stages and go directly to big.
Go big or go home ;)Actually, I’m finding the size easier to handle. My hand goes less numb after prolonged usage.
I predict i’ll be in landscape mode much of the time. My typing experience will hopefully be much improved. I now see small phones as inadequate and a dumb choice.
William Mougayar:Once a power user of technology gets more of what they previous had it is difficult to return to a less equipped anything. Especially a phone screen size.
William Mougayar: on your suggestion we purchased the Xiaomi Mi4 and had a lot of work to do to flash to Android and the glitches. We just gave it to a niece. We realize that second and third adoption is more our speed. We wait until you wealthier folks test the technology. We are awaiting for the Pixel price point to adjust for second and third adopter’s.
Ha!I hope your Mi4 experience wasn’t too frustrating.I skipped the 4 (after the 3), and went to an Mi5. Now I’m on a new Mi Max (6.44 inches) and enjoying it to the max, literally. Only had to flash it today actually to get to Global MIUI 8. All other updates with the other phones were done OTA.
William Mougayar:You and Fred are two of the rare people we actually stop and provide ten minutes of undivided attention on new anything we haven’t heard.And that is usually not the case with our subscriptions to various forward looking publications on IoT, technology, biotech or policy that haven’t even occurred or isn’t expected until 5 to 15 years out. So your Xiaomi suggestion doesn’t count. We like energy efficient vehicles but if you suggested a Tesla Model S and I ended up with a Fisker Karma we are still in the same room. (We commute totally by the way, No carbon emissions to think about)Did you attend Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Road Trip which stopped in Phoenix Oct 7, 2016? You mentioned you would be in Phoenix but no date.
No, haven’t seen Steve Case’s tour. Yes, I stayed briefly at the JW Desert Ridge end of October, for less than 48 hours, due to a speaking commitment & was tied up mostly. It was 103F. Sorry, maybe next time.
what about Xiaomi bloatware William? is MIUI 8 an easy experience? i’m coming from Motorola Android, which is undiluted.
What is bloatware? You want to have the Global Roms, not China ones.
Interesting. What was the problem you encountered, and was it insurmountable?I’m contemplating buying a Xiaomi.
Jason wright:We can not indict an entire product line but the following reasons we returned to at the time back to Nexus 5 and followed that with a purchase of the Nexus 6 and now await the price adjustment on the Pixel line.Xiaomi Mi4 is plain and simple a IPhone 5/5S knockoff. The Mi4 lacked 4G and that was in 2014. The NFC chip was removed from the Mi4 but was in a lesser earlier version Mi3. (Xiaomi CEO Jun said it was to cut Mi4 costs). Forward 2017 and you know how important NFC has become in payment systems. The phone was considered one of the best for Android in 2014 and the suggestion by William Mougayar. (The reason we adopted it with the low price point and 5 inch screen) The MIUI was heavy on customized bloat and no app drawer. The reason we had to jailbreak it to Android custom.(Our posts regarding our dislike of Apple products are duly noted, but acknowledge the excellent technology Apple usually incorporates via their acquisitions or as lawsuits and counter-lawsuits suggest)The camera is in the middle of the phone and not the side like IPhone and used a plastic panel. It has a 5 inch screen.The micro sim is on the side.Hope this provides a better view of why we passed it on. Passing on the Mi4 was and still is very much appreciated even with the college student now cracking the screen as teenagers do.
do you expect a Pixel price adjustment? i don’t see that happening…if my take on why Google created the Pixel(s) and at that price point(s) is correct. it’s the same strategic reason for the creation of its Alphabet structure, to camouflage its search monopoly to fend off the competition regulators.
jason wright:All consumer product companies have a price adjustment. When Apple, Samsung or Hoole makes a new product replacement in the same line they reduce the price of the older model. We are second and third adopter’s. Now I hope you agree that Google will have a price adjustment (reduction) when a new Pixel is released six months to a year? Or secondary market with offer one before that. Howardsforum, phonescoop, Craigslist. Jason are you a Babyboomer or Mellenial?
Ask them what they think of each other, and if they like living in New York City.
Like many NY neighbors, they may not be on speaking terms.
they are more like roommates, no? or they might think they are Airbnbing at Fred’s house…imagine if they liked each other, and they are left alone most of the time at home…maybe little ones will show up in other rooms.
There’s a movie script in you. Write it!!
Which one has better speakers to pair with it? Key for setting up a home entertainment system? Which one integrates with TV easier? With music apps you might use? Home cameras and inside the home utility products that are smart (Nest for example)?
did you consider a sort of limited test with Siri despite lack of standalone device? I guess AppleTV integration of Siri in Sept suggests next iteration could be be attached to or include speaker, but product still in hobby mode.
Bezos understands that the Echo/Google home are the next platform and that number of “skills” will be, at least in the short-term, the deciding factor in the winner and loser in this race.Older article, but illustrates the point.http://www.forbes.com/sites…
Ask each for ratings of constituents in one of your funds 🙂
“one day Google, all this will be yours” 🙂
I like the Echo Dot, but have had it say several times it does not understand what I’m asking when I didn’t ask it anything and the tv was off (no ambient background noise). Has anyone else run into that problem? Also it seems easy to stump *Alexa* which I’d image is next to impossible with Google?
I have both.IMHO Google is better and the gap is likely to widen.As soon as Google figures out that it can use its network with Home to provide voice commands for telephony the product will explode.
Amazon account management is frustrating with Alexa. My wife has prime and I do not. I have music apps and third party skills that she does not.To access Prime I need to ask Alexa which account she is in then switch over to my wife’s should we want to buy something. (Even though we have linked Amazon accounts online.) She needs to swap over to my account to access my skills.It might sound trivial but it is a frustrating additional step.
I returned my Echo Xmas present for this reason. AMZN allows sharing of Prime accounts within a household, except music. Result is Echo + (family) Prime use case is broken.
Fred would try to integrate with 3rd party to do list if you use one — Todoist has been great with Alexa!
Hey Fred, you once said that a person should act as if anything they do on the internet (like private emails) is part of the public domain, because for all we know it may one day be.Have you considered that with these kinds of devices the internet has a microphone inside your home?There have been a few situations now where law enforcement authorities have requested Amazon echo mic recordings to investigate homicides. As part of the terms of service, Amazon keep recordings of the echo on their server to improve product experience, voice recognition, etc etc… Link here: https://www.cnet.com/news/p…These devices are definitely targets for hacking whether from the government or someone else. Just curious how everyone feels about this, this is my current hang up for having something like this in my living room.
Will these things do the washing up and iron my shirts?
Compare the new follow up question feature in the echo to the Google home follow up questions
Try adding an item to your shopping list , them ask your device/s to remove the item .I tried this the other day on Google home and got a reply ” i can’t do this yet “. Maybe i did it wrong , or perhaps there’s a better way of phrasing it ? While these are cool new gadgets , they still seem fairly limited in some ways.
They look so cute together, like they’re about to embark on an adventure/the start of a beautiful friendship! 🙂
Find a friend with a heavy accent of some sort to see if the same functions work(also, watching this)
Funny piece that Steven Colbert show did on Alexahttps://www.youtube.com/wat…
Perhaps we can revisit this in a month or so for a community sourced conclusion on which device has the edge.
Today i checked out Echo in my local dept. store (Home is not out yet in the UK). Do I need an Amazon Prime account to use/ make best use of Echo? A bit confused on this basic point.
I did a review here!http://www.alexanderworldpe…
And in full view of the neighbours. Why pay to go to the theatre?
I find them both to be conversational pieces – alexa good for background playlists during parties.
They’re actually great conversation starters. “Alexa tell me a joke” is a great way to get guests interested in them.