Would you like coffee or tea? Do you want paper or plastic? Will that be cash or credit? Which is better- Alexa or Google Home? Decisions. Some are easily made and some are harder to reconcile. The choice between the two major voice assistants on the market is one of the latter. After playing around with both devices, I have noticed a few key differences that may help you make up your mind. Let’s dig in.
Let the Music Play!
Depending upon if and with which music streaming service you have a subscription, this might help you make a decision on which device to purchase.
Alexa can stream music from Amazon Music, Prime Music, Spotify Premium, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Audible. Pretty impressive list, huh? Google Home’s capability is slightly limited with only four options: Google Play Music, Pandora, YouTube Music (requires YouTube Red subscription), and Spotify (requires premium account linking).
With Alexa you can also upload your music collection from iTunes, Google Play Music, and more to your Amazon library and then stream your music through your Alexa voice assistant. If you are an Amazon Prime member you will enjoy access to plenty of free music, without having to pay a monthly subscription fee to a separate streaming service. You can ask Alexa to play a song and if it’s Prime she will play it in its entirety. If it’s not labeled as Prime she will play you a sample of the song. Alexa also has playlists that she will play for you if you ask for a specific type of music or artist. A trick that I’ve learned is when Alexa is playing a song that I like I ask her to add it to my library while it’s playing. Then I retain access to the song later on, even if it is no longer labeled as Prime.
With the purchase of a new Google Home device you will be able to sign up for a brief, free trial of Google Play Music. This will allow you to ask for specific songs and artists. However, once the trial period ends you will be forced to pay the monthly fee to either retain a Google Play Music subscription or sign up for a subscription with one of the other supported services. The only free option being Pandora, which will not allow you to request specific songs and also includes sponsored commercial breaks. Once your trial subscription ends, if you ask Google Home to play specific songs that are not in your library the device will suggest a similar song or playlist to you.
To learn more about how you can play music through Alexa visit: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201549700
For information about listening to music on your Google Home device visit: https://support.google.com/googlehome/answer/7030379?hl=en
You be the judge of which music experience is more suited to your needs, but from where I’m standing Alexa wins this contest by a landslide.
ALEXA 1, GOOGLE HOME 0
Information is Power
Ask me anything! The Google Home device can handle it. It’s Google, for crying out loud! With this heritage the search capabilities of this device are endless, so you can feel confident that you are getting a solid answer to almost any question. Google Home also cites its sources for the information it dishes out, making the data more credible. In one instance my kids asked both devices if Punxsutawney Phil had seen his shadow on Groundhog’s Day. Alexa said, “Rumor has it that he did,” while Google Home spewed a long answer beginning with, “According to Newsday…” The gist of the answers was similar, but I’d rather get my information from a device that has a wider knowledge base and tells me where its information is coming from. Google Home is also great at handling follow up questions so that your interchange feels more like a conversation.
There are ways to hack your Alexa into searching Google for information, but the out of the box experience with Google Home is far better for seeking answers to your burning questions.
ALEXA 1, GOOGLE HOME 1
Eeeeeeeek! We’re Out of Toilet Paper!
Like a cross between Rosie from the Jetsons and I Dream of Jeannie, Alexa is able to seamlessly handle requests to purchase countless items from Amazon. As long as you meet the following criteria: you are a Prime member, have a U.S. shipping address, have a payment method issued by a U.S. bank with a U.S. shipping address, and have enabled voice purchasing in the Alexa app, all you have to do is say “Alexa, order toilet paper,” and you are two days away from having a package on your doorstep. Alexa is careful to select the correct item for you before confirming your order. Just follow her chain of voice prompts to ensure that you want the 12 count of Charmin Ultra Soft rather than the Ultra Strong and you can cross that off your to-do list. Just be careful that your kids aren’t requesting boatloads of play dough and Chips Ahoy by adjusting your purchasing settings in the Alexa app. You can turn off Alexa’s ability to process voice prompted orders altogether or you can simply make sure there are no mistakes by setting up a passcode.
Google just announced that they, too, are now offering voice powered ordering via Google Express. They are even offering free shipping on orders until April 30th of this year. Score! Or so I thought… Unless I am missing something, it doesn’t seem that Google has its act totally together on ordering just yet. After many unsuccessful attempts to get the process going with the Google Home App I was unable to test out Google’s capability to handle voice prompted orders.
I can easily see this capability being the deciding factor in voice assistants for many busy parents. Who has time to order household essentials online, much less drive to the supermarket, when you can simply say what you need aloud from the comfort of your own home (while helping your child with homework, chopping up a head of kale, and sorting through your email inbox all at the same time)?
As of today, when it comes to getting the stuff you need- and fast, Alexa’s your girl.
ALEXA 2, GOOGLE HOME 1
You’ll have to decide which capabilities are most important to you in order to choose your voice assistant. For most of my everyday needs, I’m sticking with Alexa.