Wouldn’t it be great to have a personal assistant at your beck and call?
You can, with popular products like Amazon Echo ($129) and Google Home ($179).
While these voice-activated helpers for the home vary in a few small ways, both are similar products that have become two of the hottest gadgets available today – and for good reason.
Amazon Echo and Google Home are small Wi-Fi devices you can place somewhere in your home—such as a kitchen—that house a loud speaker and a sensitive microphone. That way, you don’t need to be right beside these gadgets to talk to it (or hear it).
After saying the “wake” word — “Alexa” for Amazon Echo, or “OK Google” for Google Home — simply ask a question or give a command, and you’ll hear a human-like female voice respond accordingly. Perhaps you want to hear a specific song, set a timer for the oven, or control your smart devices in your home, such as adjusting lighting or a thermostat.
It’s really that simple.
Ask how many calories there is in a donut (if you dare). Instruct your assistant to remind you to do something at a specific time. Get the latest stock quotes. Ask for a joke. Find out how long it will take you to get to the mall (with traffic, in mind).
And if the grandkids are over doing homework, Amazon Echo and Google Home can give language translations, math equations, geography facts, spelling help, and much more. Powered by Google Assistant, Google Home can also play noises for the kids on demand, such as animal and vehicle sounds.
Both smart home assistants can even detect different voices in your home, therefore you’ll get your own calendar appointments or curated music playlists when asking for them.
Pretty neat stuff, no?
A few more (little-known) examples of what these magical boxes can do:
• With hands-free calling on Google Home, you can call friends, family or businesses, using just your voice – and it doesn’t cost anything to call Canadian or American numbers!
• Use your voice to easily buy things on Amazon Echo, saying something like “Alexa, order an Insta Pot Duo,” followed by a four-digit verbal PIN code, and the product will ship to your door from Amazon.
• With Google Home, wake up and say “OK Google, tell me about my day,” and you’ll hear the date and time, weather, calendar events, and news. You can also change where you get your news from by opening the Google Home app and selecting desired sources.
• Both Amazon Echo and Google Home will find a song for you — even if you don’t know the title. For example, say “Play that song that says ‘Your love was handmade for somebody like me’,” and she’ll play Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”.
• Google Home can help you remember where you left things. Say something like “Ok Google, remember my passport is in the top drawer.” When you need it in the future, ask “OK Google, where’s my passport?” and she’ll tell you where it is, and what date you asked her to remind you.
• What’s more, these smart assistants are being integrated into many other Wi-Fi products in the home, too. Google Assistant is now available in select Sony and LG TVs, while Amazon Alexa can be accessed in the latest Wi-Fi thermostat from ecobee or Sonos speaker.
The future is here!
Which one should you buy?
Both Google Home and Amazon Alexa are worthy picks to give you hands-free access to information.
They both work in a similar fashion, by letting you use your voice to give a command (like “open the garage door”) or ask a question (“What the weather like in Miami next week”?).
And if you’re looking for smaller smart speakers that are more affordable, both Google and Amazon have other products that do much of the same thing: Amazon Echo Dot is only $69, while Google Home Mini costs $79.
You can even place a few of these around your home, and they’re all connected over your Wi-Fi.
If you’re a fan of Google products – such as Gmail, Google Calendar, YouTube, and Google Maps – then perhaps you might lean towards the Google Assistant-powered Google Home or Google Home Mini.
On the flipside, if you’re a fan of shopping at Amazon.ca, and are an Amazon Prime member (which includes access to streaming music and video services), then you might consider Amazon Echo or Echo Dot instead.
And you don’t need to be a smart assistant to know you can’t go wrong with either pick!