For those who are wondering about the differences between the three smart home devices, or what they actually do, here’s some helpful information.
First came the Echo, featuring the cloud-based voice of Alexa (2014). Created by Amazon, Echo is a 9-inch tall cylinder speaker that now integrates with several other related devices: Amazon Tap (a portable Echo), Amazon Dot (formerly Spot, an alarm clock), Amazon Echo Look (for fashionistas), and Amazon Echo Show (which enables video calling).
In late 2015, Google released its own smart home device called Google Home. Google Home features Google Assistant who, like Alexa, answers your questions. Unlike Alexa, Google Assistant uses natural language processing, which many claim improves reliability.
Then, Apple launched Apple HomePod in June 2017, featuring Siri (a voice iPhone users know because of their cell phones). Unlike Alexa and Google Assistant, Siri can’t distinguish voices. As long as you address her as Siri, she’ll answer you.
What’s the Difference?
Everyone has their favourite, partly depending on brand loyalty. But here are some differences worth noting:
Google’s main Home device is nearly identical, in terms of functionality, to Amazon’s main Echo. However, when you’re deciding between the three devices, you’re deciding between three ecosystems. Amazon got a head start on Google, which in turn had a head start on Apple, so there are more Amazon Echo devices. The others, however, are bound to catch up.
What’s Best for You?
If you have an Android phone that already uses Google Assistant, you’re better to stick with Google Assistant-powered devices like Google Home, Google Home Mini, or Google Home Max.
If you have an active Amazon Prime account, you might prefer the Echo range of speakers, plus you can take advantage of Prime discounts and deals.
If you are an iPhone user and love your music, Apple HomePod comes equipped with impressive features that give 360-degree sound. In addition, the sound quality is much higher, partly because the device is equipped to analyze a room’s acoustics to adjust the sound based on its location. Plus using Siri, you can control the music on HomePod with your voice, and through Apple Play, bring in something like 45 million songs into your home.
Just because you need to know…
Smart home devices offer convenience, variety, even fun, with millions now installed in homes across North America. Remember, however, that because these devices are always waiting for voice commands, they are ALWAYS listening! Those concerned with privacy might want to know that such devices could be hacked.
There are ways to protect yourself. You can go into the properties of your devices and make adjustments, such as turn off microphones or erase history of voice recordings. Check websites for specific instructions.