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Amazon Echo vs Google Home: Which is better right now?

May 12, 2021
Google Home Hub vs Amazon Echo Show 2

Google’s Home smart assistant was released in 2016, and a lot has changed since then. At the time of launch, many people were disappointed at the ability of the Google Home vs Amazon Echo. The latter had already been on the market for almost two years. Hundreds of developers created custom voice commands to control Amazon hardware, making the Echo an exciting prospect.

It’s been a long time, and Google has made a huge amount of improvements. Hands-free calling, added support for smart home products, and visual Chromecast help make Google Home much more exciting than before. Not to mention the addition of plenty of voice commands and abilities. Things have changed so much that Google Home went through a rebranding to the Nest moniker. The Nest branding covers all types of smart home products coming from Google.

Of course, Amazon hasn’t kept its arms crossed this whole time. Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences in this Amazon Echo vs Google Home battle. Keep in mind this is just a general comparison of different Google Home/Nest and Echo products that should help you decide which ones come out on top.

Here: What’s the best smart speaker you can buy?

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: Aesthetics

Google Home

Pictured is the gray Google Nest Audio on a bookshelf with the lights blinking.
Adam Molina / Android Authority

Looks certainly matter in the war between Amazon Echo vs Google Home. Google tends to stick with minimalist designs and simple colors. Most like white or black, but newer Google Home and Nest devices include blue, pink, green, and orange colors for the adventurous souls among you.

Google tends to stick with minimalist designs and simple colors for its speakers. David Imel

Lines are also smoother, and nothing is too flashy, making Google Home and Nest devices products that may go unnoticed. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your smart speaker must integrate as seamlessly as possible into your home. And if you want to get creative, some Google Home and Nest speaker parts can be changed on older models. The original Google Home speaker can have the base switched out, for example.

There is only one physical button (it can also be a toggle) present on most Google Home and Nest devices, and it’s used to mute the microphone. Most newer ones only have the toggle. Otherwise, most of the features can be controlled using your voice alone, though the touch capacitive areas can be used for adjusting the volume and halting timers/alarms.

Google Nest Hub Max Angle

On the other hand, we have the Google Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max, which follow a similar pattern. They have a textured base with little to no fanfare on the screen. It’s just a frame with a display. As simple as it gets.

Most Google Home devices come with lighting and animation to ensure you know what’s going on with the speaker. Cable management is nice on Nest products, so you should be able to position your Home or Nest devices in various locations without adding too much clutter. Overall, we think Google Home and Nest designs are more elegant, though some would rather have something more futuristic to show off.

More: A complete Google Assistant guide

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo 2019 smart speaker in gray

So how do Amazon Echo products stand in the Amazon Echo vs Google Home battle when it comes to looks? It depends on which of the many speakers or displays you get, but Amazon units are definitely much flashier than Google’s. Amazon’s older Echo is a tall cylinder with padding all around the sides. The top houses the usual Alexa buttons: Mic off, Volume up, Volume down, and Action. This device is arguably among the most discrete in the Amazon Echo line-up.

Amazon smart speakers are definitely much flashier than Google's. David Imel

The newer Echo devices come in spherical shapes, which make them pop wherever you place them. And that light ring is nothing close to discrete. In the dark, they look like an absolute light show. We can’t forget the Echo Show displays, which come with futuristic designs and usually black bezels. And if you really want to get playful, there’s the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition, which comes in a couple of designs featuring panda and tiger prints.

Echo Dot 2020 fourth generation ring of light from the front
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Amazon Echo products look great and catch attention, but it will be a bit easier for them to look out of place in the usual household.

Also: A complete Amazon Alexa guide

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: Music and entertainment

YouTube Music on smartphone stock photo 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Another important fact in this Amazon Echo vs Google Home battle is the music and entertainment options available to you. Both Google Home and Amazon Echo gadgets have the ability to stream major audio offerings.

Google Assistant plays nicely with YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Deezer, and more. Of course, Alexa can play music from Amazon Prime Music and Music Unlimited, but Echo devices also play nicely with third parties. These include Apple Music, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Sirius XM, and others.

Google Play Music stock photo 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

All speakers sound pretty good when compared to their direct competitors. The Echo Dot sounds similar to the Nest Mini, for example. The consensus is that Google’s speakers sound a bit better, though, usually offering a deeper bass and richer, well-rounded audio. If you want to fill your whole residence with audio, both platforms allow you to link multiple smart speakers and play music simultaneously.

Amazon Echo and Google Home ecosystems suffer from the issue of sometimes being unable to hear keywords when playing audio.David Imel

One problem both ecosystems suffer from is sometimes being unable to hear keywords when playing audio. Both speakers use your voice to trigger listening for commands, so playing music loudly can be an obstruction. However, Google’s options listened better in our tests and continued to hear us at higher decibels than Amazon’s offering.

Both Google Home vs Amazon Echo devices can control their respective TV platforms without a remote; these being Google Cast and Amazon Fire TV, respectively. This used to be an issue in the past, as Amazon lacked this feature for some time.

Google Home Hub

Google Home and Amazon Echo have several fun entertainment uses. They can both play games like trivia, though all of the Echo games are built into different “skills”. This isn’t necessarily bad, as it widens variety thanks to help from a plethora of developers. Just search through the various skills Amazon has to offer and choose the games you want to include. Google’s games are fun and all, but there aren’t as many.

You can ask both systems to do things like tell jokes and sing songs, and these are really just all meant for a quick laugh. The engineers have obviously spent a lot of time working through the thousands of responses these things can use, and there are many unique and funny ones out there if you look hard enough. Both will sing you happy birthday, but the Google Home has an arguably much more melodic voice for use cases like this.

More: 10 best music streaming apps and music streaming services for Android!

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: Personal Assistant

Amazon Echo Show 2

If you want to use your device for more practical measures, Google Home and Amazon Echo have many similar features. They can both tell you where the nearest store of your liking is, though Google can hook into its Maps services to give you more complete information, such as the estimated time by car. They can both give you the weather, though they seem to grab it from different sources, since they gave us different answers upon testing.

Read: Google Assistant vs Siri vs Bixby vs Amazon Alexa vs Cortana

Both Amazon Echo and Google Home products can tell you the latest news from various news sources, and they each default to NPR to give you an hourly briefing. You can also ask both of them for updates on things like sports scores and pull information from Wikipedia when asking more random questions.

We will say Google Assistant has the upper hand in this department, though. This is because Google uses its search engine knowledge base to its advantage, meaning it can pull information from what could be earth’s largest database of information.

LIFX smart LED light bulb stock photo 5
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Furthermore, one of the biggest benefits of having a personal assistant like this is controlling smart home appliances like smart light bulbs. With the Amazon Echo vs Google Home speakers, both can hook into various smart lights like Phillips Hue and LIFX. After you set up rooms, you can control groups of them at once or individually. This means you can walk into your home and tell your Echo or Home/Nest to turn on the kitchen, living room, or simply “all lights”. Both the Echo and Home work pretty seamlessly with these lights.

With the Amazon Echo vs Google Home speakers, both can hook into a variety of smart lights. David Imel

Google Home hooks into some Google services to set up events under your Google account, and you can mark a time and place to blot out your schedule. It only works with Google Calendar, whereas the Amazon Echo can plug into services like Microsoft Outlook. Both assistants can set timers to let you know when something will be ready, and they both work fantastically for things involving your kitchen. I happen to prefer Alexa’s step-by-step instructions, but Google does great with recipes too.

Amazon echo show 2019 screen 1

Amazon Echo and Google Home allow for setting up a single device to be used by multiple users. This can be great considering smart home speakers are usually located throughout the house, where multiple people live and all have different needs. They can also make calls to phone numbers and across their own devices. Either can make orders to places like Dominos.

If you’re an avid Amazon shopper and really value the ability to make orders with your voice, Alexa definitely has a leg up. Amazon also puts on various promotions that give you discounts for ordering with your voice, which is a huge benefit for the avid Amazon shopper.

And this: 10 best personal assistant apps for Android

We did a quick test to see which unit was faster to respond to voice commands, and the Google Home won 10 out of 15 times. On average, it took Google Home 1.56 seconds while the Echo responded in 1.66 seconds. This is probably nearly immeasurable by the human ear, though. Try not to make this metric make the decision for you for the Amazon Echo vs Google Home.

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: Smart home support

Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus review closeup

This is likely one of the biggest gaps between Amazon Echo vs Google Home. While many third parties work with both ecosystems, some important ones are exclusive. For example, Amazon owns Ring, which means Google Nest owners won’t have native support for Ring smart home products. Blink is another Amazon-owned brand.

Here: The best smart security cameras you can buy

Some important services are exclusive to a specific digital assistant.David Imel
google nest learning thermostat 3rd gen

Meanwhile, Google has Nest Cam, which has some of the most popular security cameras and thermostats. And while it currently works with both, Google has considered cutting off Alexa support in the past, making the future uncertain. Even so, Nest products work more seamlessly with Google, as the Nest home security system can’t completely connect to Alexa.

If you can adapt your security systems and some other exclusive services to your speaker of preference, though, most other smart home devices will work great with either platform.

Next: The best smart home gadgets you can buy

Amazon Echo vs Google Home: Verdict

Google Home Hub vs Amazon Echo Show 2

In the Amazon Echo vs Google Home debate, which reigns supreme? As it usually goes, it depends on your specific needs. Both smart speakers have robust positives and negatives, though Amazon Echo remains the most popular option.

It’s more important to pick a platform than it is to pick a smart speaker, though. Many of us, especially Android users, rely heavily on Google’s products and services. We use Google for email, mapping, notes, documents, cloud storage, smartphone usage, calls, the internet, and much more. On the other hand, some of you are also very invested in the Amazon ecosystem. Amazon Prime makes shipping fast and affordable, not to mention you get cool perks like Prime Video, Prime Music, lower prices on other Amazon services, free/discounted reading through Kindle, and more. You must also consider the few exclusively supported services each platform has.

It's more important to pick a platform than it is to pick a smart speaker. Do you use Amazon or Google services more?Edgar Cervantes

Of course, you can find a way to depend on one ecosystem and use the competing smart speaker, but you will have a harder time getting things to work, and sometimes it will be impossible to. For example, those who like Google Play Music but go with an Amazon Echo speaker will have to jump through some hoops to get that mix working. Likewise, you can’t really add items to your Amazon shopping list from a Google Home or Nest speaker. If you depend on Google Maps integration, Amazon Alexa won’t be as convenient. You also have to find workarounds to get Audible working on a Google smart speaker. As mentioned above, finding which is the best option in the Amazon Echo vs Google Home dilemma depends on the ecosystem you are most invested in.

If you want to get both the Google Home and Amazon Echo on the cheap, you can always invest in the Echo Dot and Nest Mini. These cost about the same and aren’t as expensive as other smart speakers offered by the tech giants. You could even get both and see which platform you prefer or use them simultaneously. While we’re talking about prices, it’s true that Amazon devices can more often be found on special. So if you’re on a tight budget, you can often find the Amazon Echo Dot going for about $30. That price is hard for Google to Beat, even when discounted.