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November 8, 2017

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Which voice assistant answers questions best?

by John_A

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Being able to talk to these things is important, but the answers are even more important.

Amazon Echo and Google Home are the two big names in connected home tech right now. While it’s important to see which one sounds better in your room if you’re into music or which has the most features you might actually use, there’s one bigger thing. When you ask Alexa or Assistant a question, the answer needs to be useful. Those answers need to be plentiful, useful, and easy to digest.

Here’s how the Amazon Echo (and Alexa) and Google Home (and Google Assistant) compare in our tests.

See Home at Google   See Echo at Amazon

‘What’s the weather like tomorrow?’

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The ultimate softball question for any digital assistant, and it shouldn’t surprise you to see Google Home and Amazon Echo give basically the same answer. The response from these assistants confirm your location, let you know if it is partly cloudy or raining or sunny, and then give you a high and low temperature.

In our tests, these two platforms responded almost identically. The answer had all of the right information and was delivered in a way that makes sense. One point awarded to each.

Alexa ✔️ | Assistant ✔️

‘What is the traffic like right now?’

When asked, Google Home immediately responded with any traffic issues or delays within my zip code. At the time of day I asked, there were several slowdowns on local roads because the schools had just let out. Google Home didn’t tell me about the school buses, but the delays were all accounted for.

Alexa doesn’t have an automatic response to this question. Instead, it asks you to go to the Alexa app and add your commute information. When you do that, Alexa will tell you about any traffic on what it now knows is your commute to or from work. All of the information Alexa gave in this situation turned out to be accurate.

The difference between these two answers is important. Alexa doesn’t have a mechanism for giving you traffic details in your general area, and Google doesn’t immediately try to give you traffic information relevant to your commute. You can ask Google Home “What is the traffic like on the way to work?” and get that information as long as you have added a work location in Google Maps, but there’s no prompt anywhere to do so. One point awarded to Google, with the caveat that it needs some improvement still.

Assistant ✔️

‘Can you find me a recipe for fried chicken?’

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Google Home immediately responded with information it found on the web. Specifically, it started reading me the recipe found in the Google Search card for Friend Chicken recipes. Google Home read through the entire recipe in about 45 seconds, and then stopped.

Alexa offered me several options for recipes, and when I chose one with my voice it read the first few steps in the recipe and then offered to either keep reading or send the recipe to my phone. When I asked for the recipe to be sent to my phone, it was immediately available in the Alexa app.

While both of these systems had the “right” answer, the way Google Home delivered it was mostly useless to me. I didn’t retain any of the information, and had to search for the recipe on my phone even thought Google Assistant knew what I was listening to and could have had that information available to me quickly. No doubt about it, one point to Alexa.

Alexa ✔️

‘Who won the Ravens game?’

Google Home quickly points out the Ravens loss, final score, and what team they played against.

Alexa quickly points out the Ravens loss, final score, and what team they played against. Alexa then let me know what team the Ravens were playing next and when that game would be.

While both answers are correct, the answer Alexa gave is more complete and in this situation more useful. One point to Alexa.

Alexa ✔️

‘How much does an apple weigh?’

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Google Home found an answer from the web, and read a detailed explanation of what someone on a blog somewhere thought was the average weight of an apple.

Alexa immediately gave me a numerical answer to this question, sourcing Wikipedia.

While both answers were correct, Google Home took way longer to get to the actual numerical answer. On top of being longer, the answer didn’t contain any information that was more useful. One point to Alexa.

Alexa ✔️

‘What is 13 X 9?’

Google Home answered immediately with the correct answer.

Alexa answered immediately with the correct answer.

Not a lot to discuss here. One point to each!

Alexa ✔️ | Assistant ✔️

‘How do I make my feet warm?’

Google Home found an answer on the web, which happened to be from a blog with useful information and step-by-step instructions. The answer wasn’t too long, and in the end, I clearly understood what I needed to do.

Alexa had no answer to this question at all and quickly apologized.

Clearly, one point to Google Home for this one.

Assistant ✔️

The results!

This covers a small fraction of the wealth of knowledge accessible from these assistants, but gives you a reasonable cross-section of the kinds of answers these assistants are capable of delivering.

Google Home relies heavily on the web, specifically on the cards Google creates when you do a web search on your phone or PC. Just like searching the good ol’ fashioned way, these cards can be hit or miss when it comes to how useful they are.

Alexa doesn’t have every answer every time, but the answers it does have tend to be a little more thought out in the delivery. Those little details tend to matter quite a bit when someone less technical is using something like a connected home speaker.

While there’s still plenty of room for growth with both of these assistants, it’s clear Alexa is a little more prepared to consistently answer your questions in a useful way. That’s why Amazon Echo wins this little contest for now!

Google Home / Assistant ✔️✔️✔️✔️

Amazon Echo / Alexa ✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️✔️

See Home at Google   See Echo at Amazon

Amazon Alexa

  • Which Amazon Echo should you buy?
  • Get more Alexa Skills
  • How to enable and disable Alexa Skills
  • How to customize Flash Briefing
  • How to get sports updates
  • How to sync your calendar with Alexa
  • How to shop with Alexa
  • Send voice messages with Alexa

See more at Amazon

Google Hardware

home-family.jpg?itok=iUP4ApSp

  • Google Wifi review
  • Google Home review
  • Everything you need to know about the Chromecast Ultra
  • Chromecast vs Chromecast Ultra: Which should you buy?

Google Wifi:

Google
Amazon

Google Home:

Google
Best Buy

Chromecast Ultra:

Google
Best Buy

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