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Report: Google Home still the best by far, but Apple's HomePod makes progress

In the fight for the title of best smart speaker, the Google Home is still the reigning champ in almost all metrics.

Published onDecember 20, 2018

  • The latest testing from Loup Ventures concludes, once again, that Google Home is by far the best smart speaker.
  • The Google Home outperformed all other smart speakers in nearly every metric.
  • However, Apple’s HomePod made some big progress this year, so Google’s “best smart speaker” title is by no means assured forever.

Back in July, research company Loup Ventures posted its annual testing results of the four major virtual assistants: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana. Google Assistant topped its competitors in every category except for one.

Now, Loup Ventures just published its comprehensive testing results for smart speakers in 2018, judging the best smart speaker to be the Google Home.

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You might be wondering why there are two different tests. Loup Ventures explains that using a virtual assistant on your smartphone is a different experience (and can net you different results) as compared to using a smart speaker. Therefore, determining the best smart speaker should be treated differently than choosing the best virtual assistant.

Although there were some slight differences between the comparisons of smart speakers and comparisons of virtual assistants, both tests conclude Google products to be the most accurate and the most efficient overall. However, Apple’s HomePod smart speaker made some serious progress this year as compared to the last time Loup Ventures determined the best smart speaker of the year, so Google should be on guard.

These results make it very clear that Google Home is the overall best smart speaker, once again.

As with the previous testing of virtual assistants, Loup Ventures asked each smart speaker the same 800 questions, with each question falling into one of five categories:

  • Local – Where is the nearest coffee shop?
  • Commerce – Can you order me more paper towels?
  • Navigation – How do I get to uptown on the bus?
  • Information – Who do the Twins play tonight?
  • Command – Remind me to call Steve at 2:00 P.M. today.

Google Home answered 86 percent of the questions correctly and understood every single one. Apple’s HomePod correctly answered 75 percent of the questions and misunderstood three, while Amazon’s Echo correctly answered 73 percent and misunderstood eight questions, and Microsoft’s Cortana correctly answered 63 percent and misunderstood five questions.

Check out the chart below to see the breakdown:

You can see that Cortana is struggling pretty much across the board and Amazon’s Alexa is not doing too well, either. Remarkably, Amazon’s commerce-centric Echo device is nearly half as good at commerce-related queries as a Google Home (we also saw similar results with the testing of virtual assistants earlier this year).

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However, you’ll see all the way to the right that the Apple HomePod trounces every other smart speaker — including the Google Home — when it comes to command-related queries. This is because, as Loup Ventures puts it, “HomePod’s lead in this category may come from the fact that the HomePod will pass on full SiriKit requests like those regarding messaging, lists, and basically anything other than music to the iOS device paired to the speaker.”

Apple's HomePod speaker wins the Command round, but it might have won because it isn't playing fair.

In other words, the HomePod kind of cheats in this category, as asking it a command-related query will use the smartphone to answer, not the speaker itself. However, Google Assistant also didn’t do as well as Apple’s Siri in this category earlier this year, so this is definitely a sore spot which Google should give attention.

For a better idea of how each smart speaker is improving, check out this year’s results as compared to Loup Ventures’ best smart speaker tests from last year:

The charts make it very clear that the Apple HomePod has made some significant progress nearly across the board. While the HomePod’s high price and deep integration within the Apple ecosystem will continue to make it hard to recommend for general consumers, it clearly is going to give Google a run for its money if it continues on this path.

What do you think from these results? Are you happy with your current smart speaker setup? Does this make you want to switch teams? Let us know in the comments!

NEXT: Google Home Hub vs Lenovo Smart Display

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