The battle of the personal digital assistants is clearly upon us. Case in point, the recent launch of Google Home, the Mountain View company’s answer to Amazon Echo at its developer’s conference on Wednesday.
As such, a direct comparison between the two is unavoidable even though both Echo and Home start off on a similar pitch. Both are smart speakers that are capable of receiving voice commands, can perform a variety of tasks and require a wired power connection for their basic survival.
Google Home again owes its existence to Google Assistant, the company’s voice-activated, artificial intelligence based digital assistant that serves as the real brain behind Home. As such, the smart speaker can chip in with the same daily chores such as playing music, reporting weather information, providing driving directions or flight information, sending text messages and such that are already available with the latest Android devices.
The same for Echo is performed by Alexa, Amazon’s take on digital assistants.
Besides the above mentioned set of tasks that are fast becoming commonplace with every other digital assistant in town, Google Home will also be endowed with special capabilities such as booking a cab, ordering a pizza, select groceries and so on. To pull off such tasks, Home need to have access to third party apps and Google already has on board the support of some of the biggest names here. That includes the likes of TicketMaster, WhatsApp, Pandora, GrubHub, OpenTable, Spotify, Uber and Instacart.
While the above capabilities does provide the Home with the kind of start it needs to carve out its space in this fast emerging segment, what also sets it apart from the others is the vast Google search database that Home can fall back on to further improve its services. Google also has the added advantage of several decades of experience in dealing with search request. That’s something Alexa, or for that matter Amazon, obviously lacks at the moment though the Echo smart speaker too can carry out quite a similar set of tasks.
Google though isn’t providing free access to its Home platform to all third-party developers (something that Amazon has done with its Echo) but it does have the support of the who’s who in the business right away. Further, Google also aims to integrate Assistant, and hence Home, with its Nest acquisition which again will open up newer vistas for them endear us with newer functionalities. Those include the likes of controlling thermostats or other smart devices Nest intends to come up with in future.
For comparison’s sake, Echo does have the required linkages already in place that allows it to communicate with say Samsung home hub, Wink home hub, or Philips Hue lighting.
Another likeable aspect of the Home is that it is smaller, more portable compared to Echo. Besides, Home also offers customizable options in that the lower base of the same comes in different color options. Not so with the Echo that always comes in the black shade.
In short, the Home can pull off almost all that the Echo does even though Echo has the credit of being the early-starter in the business. That said, Home seems to have a far bigger vision at the moment and can gobble up Echo unless Amazon too rethinks its strategies here.