The age of smart speaker virtual assistants is here. Indeed, the competition is hot currently. Vendors want to create the most useful features as fast as they. As a result, the Google Home and Amazon Alexa speakers, with their machine learning, grow smarter all the time. The cloud hardware for them is growing faster too. Here, we compare the key features of the two in this Google Home Vs Alexa speaker side-by-side lineup.
Google Home Vs Alexa Smart Speaker Intro
In this piece, we compare and contrast the two assistants. We look at their assistant features as well as the physical device features for each. Generally, we find them equal in what they do. E.g…
- Both Google Home and Alexa can play music for you. But they may differ in which streaming services they each can stream.
- They both receive voice commands and can answer back.
- They both can tell you the weather, traffic, and play simple audio based games.
- Both can control your TV with the right hardware add-ons to your TV.
- They both have functions that we expect from a smart speaker. In fact, it was these two that taught us what to expect.
Currently, Google Home has three smart speakers (the original Google Home, the Google Home Mini, and the Google Home Max). Amazon offers several speakers that connect to their Alexa assistant. These include the…
- Echo tower.
- The Dot.
- The Echo Plus.
- Echo Show.
- Echo Spot.
Also, as of 2018, Amazon offers the Echo Sub sub-woofer too.
Note that Amazon no longer sells the Tap speaker. But you can still find it on eBay. Details below.
Now in the talk below, we discuss Alexa in terms of its speakers. We give some of the key differences and likenesses between Alexa and Google.
Google Home Vs Alexa Assistant: Product Maturity
The first Amazon Alexa talking speaker, the Echo, was released in 2014. Then, other releases followed, like the Tap and Dot speakers in 2015 and mid 2016 respectively. There’s even a third generation version of the Dot now, released late in 2018.
The first Google Home smart speaker, Google’s direct competitor to the Alexa devices, came out in November of 2016. So, Amazon had roughly a two year head start on Google. At first, Amazon offered more supporting speaker devices, although Google Home has caught up fast. Google themselves offer at least three speakers. Plus, third party vendors like JBL and Sonos also offer speakers with Google Assistant in them.
Google’s search infrastructure, based on Google Now, is quite mature compared to Amazon’s “context free” answers.
Cost of Google Home Vs Alexa Speakers
The Google Home speaker, powered by Google’s virtual assistant, currently costs $99.99. That’s down from $129.99 in its earlier days.
The current Amazon Echo speaker, 2nd gen model, costs $99.99. That’s down from $179.99 in its first generation years.
The Amazon Tap speaker has a built in battery. So it’s portable. But it looks like Amazon does not sell this speaker currently. But in its heyday, it cost $99.99.
And finally, the Amazon Dot 3rd gen costs well under $50. Very cheap even though it provides full access to all Alexa functions. We believe the current Dot is the best buy of all so far. It has the best sound compared to its earlier generation speakers.
Also, there’s currently no charge for either the Alexa or Google Home voice services.
Google Home Vs. Amazon Speakers Pricing
|Price / Cost
|Google Home Mini
|Google Home Max
|Amazon Echo Plus
|Price / Cost
Google Home Vs Alexa Speakers: Physical Dimensions
The Amazon Echo speaker is the tallest of their smart speaker line. Its cylindrical design also towers over Google Home, as well as above the Tap and Dot. The Amazon Tap is of medium height, roughly the same height as the Google Home speaker. The Dot is the shortest smart speaker on the market, barely as tall as a hockey puck. On the other hand, the Google Home teardrop shaped speaker is the fattest of them all, especially near its base.
Smart Speaker Physical Dimensions
|Google Home Speaker
|5.62 in (142.8 mm)
|3.79 in (96.4 mm)
|1.05 Lbs. (477 g). Does not include the power adapter.
|Amazon Echo Speaker
|9.3 in (235 mm)
|3.3 in (84 mm)
|37.5 oz. (1064 grams)
|Amazon Tap Speaker*
|6.9 in (174 mm)
|2.6 in (66 mm)
|20.4 Oz. (579 grams)
|Amazon Dot Speaker
|1.5 in (38mm)
|8.8 oz. (250 grams)
Note that the dimensions for the Amazon Tap include its charging cradle.
Google Home Vs Amazon Alexa Streaming Music Service Features
Both Google Home and Amazon Alexa speakers play Spotify, Pandora, and TuneIn radio. Currently, Amazon provides iHeart Radio exclusively on its devices. YouTube Audio may only be streamed on the Google Home speaker only. Both Amazon and Google offer their respective music streaming services (Amazon Music and Google Play respectively). You may each service only on their their own speakers. I.e. Google Play plays on Google Home, while Amazon Music plays on Alexa.
Google Home Vs. Amazon Alexa Music Playing Features
|Plays Spotify Recordings on Request
|Plays YouTube Red Audio
|Plays TuneIn Radio Stations
|Yes, after a fashion. Sometimes, Google Home does not understand the station being requested, even though it's present on TuneIn.
|Plays Pandora Stations
|Plays iHeart Radio Stations
|Plays Google Play Recordings
|Honeywell Thermostat Control
|Act as Bluetooth Speaker
|Act as a Chromecast Speaker
|Has audio equalizer (bass, midrange, and treble controls)
|Uploaded music to personal Amazon Music library
|Responds, to PLAY, STOP, NEXT, PREVIOUS, REPEAT, and SKIP commands.
|Finds a song based on they lyrics you say to the speaker.
Google Home Vs Alexa: The Apps
To fully utilize either smart speaker, the user must use the corresponding mobile app. Get these apps for either Android or iOS. You need these apps not only to set up the speaker devices. But you use them to manage…
- Speaker performance.
- Audio settings.
- To make content available to the speaker such as music and news.
- Home automation setup and control.
- Linking with Bluetooth or Chromecast speakers.
Both apps provide account linking for the streaming music, home automation, and most any other subscription. While the layouts of the screen faces of each app are cunique, they provide about the same functions. Both apps are easy to use, and lots of help is online should you run into problems.
Google Home Vs Alexa Sound Quality
The sound quality from most of the speakers is pretty good. It’s surprising in fact, because of how small these units are. The Alexa and Google Home speakers offer room filling, hi-fi sound, with some bass. The 2nd gen Dot, though it lacks much of this bass and volume, has a 3.5mm stereo TRS output plug. This lets you connect it to a better-sounding home music system. The quality of this line-out signal is quite high. Indeed, the Dot speaker can fully drive the AUX level inputs of most any stereo system.
Google Home Vs. Amazon Alexa Speaker Sound Features
|Sound Quality Feature
|External speaker support
|Yes via Chromecast
|Yes via Bluetooth
|Yes via Bluetooth
|Yes via Bluetooth as well as a 3.5mm stereo line output socket
|Group playback (same program on multiple devices)
|Internal speaker compliment
|One "high excursion" 2 inch driver, and two passive radiators
|Two speakers, one woofer and one tweeter
|Two 1.5 inch drivers and two passive radiators for better bass
|One full range driver
|Omnidirectional audio output
|No, fires mostly from the front with some bass coming from left and right sides
|No, fires from the front, opposite end from the electrical ports.
|Plays in stereo
|No, except to external Chromecast enabled stereo speakers and devices
|No, except to Bluetooth speakers.
|No, except to Bluetooth speakers.
|Sound Quality Feature
The Virtual Assistant Voices
Both Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices speak with clear, human female sounding voices by default. Alexa sounds a bit meek, while the Google assistant sounds a little bossy, according to one Home user. Both voices are quite clear, with little chop. While not quite human, both voices are closer to human than robotic.
Google Home Vs. Alexa Wake Words and Phrases
The Google Home speaker awakens when you utter either of two phrases. Those are, “Okay Google…,” and “Hey Google…” The Google speaker understands either of these, without having to choose one or the other in the Google Home app. The Alexa smart speakers on the other hand, understand three wake words. Those are, “Alexa,…” “Amazon…,” and “Echo…” But Alexa only responds to one at a time. That is, you must choose, in the Alexa app, which wake word you’d like to use, per speaker. Nice, because with many speakers around home, you can assign each one a different wake word. Why do that? To minimize two or more of your speakers from answering when more than one hears you call.
How well Google Home and Amazon Echo Understand Commands
Current versions of all the Amazon Alexa devices have seven far field microphones. Yet both Google Home and Alexa accurately hear commands, though Google Home only has two mics. Both can hear you through blasting music. But they both hear better when the music comes from themselves. They do not hear as well though, when a nearby radio or CD boom box is playing.
Google Abilities Vs. Alexa Skills
Both products have extensive function for home automation and media play control. They seem roughly equal in their abilities nowadays. They both can control thermostats, lamps, TVs, door locks, Etc.
Alexa Bluetooth Verses Google Chromecast
Both Google and Alexa speakers can acts as Bluetooth speakers now. So you could play Google music sources through an Alexa speaker, just pair your tablet to the Alexa speaker. Then play your Google-based music as you normally would on your tablet. You could also play Amazon music sources on your Google Home speaker, by pairing your phone with the Google Home.
In total, it’s hard to say which speaker is better than the other without considering your specific needs. If you listen to news, then Alexa might be a better choice for you. Why? Because she has many more news sources than Google Home.
But if you enjoy asking for music based on its lyrics, the Google Home speaker is the better choice. Neither choice through, works best on all features. But in our tests, we think that you wouldn’t go wrong no matter which speaker you pick. Indeed, we avoided the dilemma by buying them both. 🙂
Well, that’s all for now. We’ll update this piece as more advances take place. Stand by.
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References for Google Home Vs Alexa
- 2021-08-17: Shortened the internal links and tags lists.
- 2019-07-25: Added key word targeting for ‘Google Home Vs Alexa’, removed ad code, and added more links and tags. Revised content to account for recent software updates to these speakers.
- 2017-02-07: Originally published.