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Google Assistant vs Alexa: Which is the best digital assistant in 2019?

Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are the two most popular digital assistants, but which is the best in 2019? Our Google Assistant vs Amazon Alexa guide reveals all.

Yes, Google and Amazon are very much at war in 2019, vying for control of your living room, kitchen, and bedroom (in the least dubious way possible) with their respective AI helpers. The big question, then, is which side should you join?

Let's take a look in more detail.

Google Assistant vs Alexa – The Basics

Let's start with the actual basics to avoid confusion, as this is an area where several technical terms intersect. Google Assistant is the AI ​​software you talk to when you use a speaker Google Home or when you press the Home button on the latest Android phones. It's Google's Siri, if you want.

Alexa is the equivalent technology of Amazon and what you talk to when you use a smart speaker Amazon Echo or a Fire TV remote.

If you want to dim the lights with a voice command or get a traffic update, you can often choose which assistant to use. Both are compatible with a wide range of third-party smart home products and speakers.

Now, let's dive a little deeper.

Google Assistant vs Alexa - How smart are they?

Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are getting smarter every day. However, I find the Assistant to be the more natural of the two to use.

Although Alexa has gotten better recently, with the ability to interpret your questions based on ones you've already asked, right now, Assistant knows more thanks to Google owning the Internet search space for what seems like an eternity. Questions to the Assistant are less likely to be answered with a response of "Sorry, I don't know that answer," which can put an abrupt end to the illusion that you're dealing with something intelligent.

For example, Google Assistant doesn't crash when asked, "When are taxes due in the UK?", but Alexa does. Likewise, say "I don't like this one" when playing a Spotify song and the Assistant will skip to another track. Alexa, on the other hand, tells you: "Thumbs up and down are not supported on Spotify." Thanks, that's very helpful!

If you're looking for a digital assistant like those featured in popular sci-fi movies, Google Assistant is clearly on the cutting edge today.

However, Alexa is ahead in a trite but, unfortunately, important way. Alexa's "wake," which is what you say to make a smart speaker start listening, isn't as good as Google's. "Alexa" is simply easier to say than "OK, Google," which is a vowel salad.

Google Assistant vs Alexa - Which does more?

Alexa has a greater breadth of skills thanks to "skills." These are effective apps for your smart speaker that allow you to do more with your device than you are capable of taking out of the box.

Particularly useful are recipe 'books' and guided meditations, or you can play radio stations with Radioplayer. There are tens of thousands of these skills, some very specific. Multiple skills are available just to let you know the value of resistors by their marks, to give an example of how niche things can get. Other abilities let you voice control your smart home equipment, robot vacuum, or Plex settings.

Google Assistant offers something similar in the form of 'actions', but there are far fewer available. The total number is in the hundreds, rather than thousands, and you still can't use Google Assistant to tell you the values ​​of a resistor while you're trying to fix a broken device.

However, while Alexa lets you interact with more smart home devices, apps, and other useful services, there's still a feeling that Google Assistant's underpinnings are more appealing. Again, it's all about the naturalistic way you respond.

For example, you can ask either system to "play This American Life" and both will find the latest episode of this popular podcast. But the results are different if you ask to play a lesser-known political podcast, "Reasons to Be Cheerful."

Say, "play Reasons to Be Cheerful," and both systems will play the song of the same name by Ian Drury and the Blockheads. Add "podcast" to the end of that request and Google Assistant finds the correct podcast, where Alexa fails again, offering a dead end.

Alexa skills can also seem a bit modular, as some cannot be loaded simply by requesting the right type of content. You should mention the actual name of the skill, which may feel awkward and hostile.

Since these AI platforms are changing rapidly, we can't say what they will look like in six months. But Google Assistant's approach of tightly integrated skills, rather than a sea of ​​things activated by precise commands, is more appealing overall.

Google Assistant vs Alexa - Assistants on your phone

There is also the phone side of things to consider. Alexa is primarily an assistant for Amazon Echo speakers, Fire TV devices, and to a lesser extent, Fire tablets. Google Assistant is available for iPhones and Android phones, and comes built into almost all new Android phones.

You can download Alexa for Android and iPhones, but the app doesn't give you full access to the Alexa experience, just a control panel.

Google Assistant vs Alexa – Exclusive Features

Each side also has some special features worth considering. For Google Assistant, Chromecast lets you take media from your phone and cast it to your TV. Chromecast is a low-cost media dongle that plugs into a TV's HDMI port. There is also one for audio, called Chromecast Audio.

This is great if you want to turn your old, but still great-sounding, “non-smart” hi-fi system into a smart home-controlled system. However, Chromecast does not have a complete interface, it is just an intermediary that bridges the old technology with the new.

Amazon alternatives are the Fire TV Stick and the new 4K Amazon Fire TV More powerful . These are more familiar TV devices that have a full on-screen interface and come with a remote control. They allow you to play Netflix, play games and download a wide variety of apps - the Fire TV family is based on Android, so it enjoys access to a pretty gigantic ecosystem.

Alexa comes into play with the new Fire TV remotes. There is a microphone on the included plastic wand, through which you can request content with a voice command. We tend to recommend the Fire TV bar to people looking to stream the latest services on their non-smart TVs, or those with creaky old smart interfaces.

However, Chromecast features much closer integration with your phone, and while it's less accessible, it may appeal to more techies among you.

Google Assistant vs Alexa - first-party hardware

The most common way to interact with Google Assistant or Alexa is through a smart speaker. The assistant may be more easily available on phones, but in our experience, you won't use your digital assistant on the go compared to your home.

External speakers and other devices are starting to integrate the two digital assistants, but most smart home buyers will likely buy a speaker from Google or Amazon first. Here's a summary of what's out there. Note that we've left out Amazon's newest device, the Echo Spot, because we haven't reviewed it in its entirety yet. But you can get an idea of ​​where those slots are located by reading our Echo Spot hands-on review .

The cheapest way to connect with Alexa is with an Echo Dot 2, a puck-shaped speaker with an LED ring on top. It comes in black or white, but it's not exactly the most attractive gadget out there. That said, the light on top looks clean. The microphone sensitivity is excellent, although its sound quality is poor. Don't rely on this one to listen to a lot of music.

Google Home Mini

The Google Home mini speaker looks better than Amazon's unit, with a top grille that's available in shades of gray ('chalk'), charcoal, or pink coral. Its LEDs are hidden behind the grille, for greater subtlety. This speaker sounds better than Amazon's Echo Dot 2, with fuller bass. You might guess that the controller is firing upwards from the layout; These are actually downward shots.

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Amazon Echo 2

The Echo 2 fills a price gap between the Echo and the original Punto (discontinued). There's nothing from Google at this price, yet. The sound quality is much better than the Dot, but it's not on par with the Sonos One. We wouldn't recommend it to audio fanatics looking for an everyday music speaker, but it will work as a next-generation bedside or kitchen radio.

Google home page
The original Google speaker is Home. It is a curved looking unit with a wedge cut out on its top. Remove the bottom grille and you'll find a 5cm driver and two passive radiators. The sound doesn't compare to the best wireless speakers at the price, as the clarity is okay and the bass isn't as well controlled or fast. It's a pretty enjoyable listen, though.

Amazon Echo Plus

Arguably the best-sounding of the first smart speakers available as of January 2018, the Echo Plus takes the design of the discontinued original Echo and tweaks it a bit. There is decent detail and sound projection. Put it on a desk or coffee table and it is a good casual music speaker. However, the Sonos One still beats it by some margin for sound quality.

Amazon Echo Show
The most dynamic digital assistant device, the Echo Show is a speaker, but it also has a camera and a screen that will display Amazon Prime quotes and movies, and other results for your requests. The sound quality doesn't match the Echo Plus, but this isn't really the point. This is a very neat interface to put, for example, your kitchen.

'Drop In' is an interesting, if disconcerting, extra feature. Allows friends and family to chat with you whenever they want, or simply check what your Show's camera can see. Some people will be fine with this, but it's other people's idea from hell.

Google HomeMax
We haven't reviewed the Home Max yet, but it's the obvious first-party choice if you want a digital speaker assistant to fill your rooms. It has two tweeters and two 4.5-inch woofers, capable of big bass and very high volume. However, for the price, it has a lot of competition from traditional multi-room speakers, many of which can be controlled through Google Home.

Google Assistant vs Alexa - third party hardware

Sonos One
The most important third-party smart speaker of the moment is the Sonos One. It's the old one Sonos Play: 1 renewed with a tight design and support for Amazon Alexa. As we've seen in other areas, Amazon comes first almost every time.

However, Google Assistant (Home) support will arrive in the future.

The Sonos One is a great-sounding little wireless speaker that beats the Google Home smart speaker and the Amazon Echo Plus for sound quality. However, its microphones are not as sensitive, so you can't make commands from as far away or with as much ambient noise as Google and Amazon.

Lenovo Smart Display
Shown at CES 2018, the Lenovo Smart Display is an upcoming Google Assistant alternative to the Echo Show. It's likely the first of many, and there are 8- and 10-inch versions.

Answering privacy questions about the Amazon Echo Show's 'Drop In' feature, there is a cover that slides over the front camera.

There are already many other speakers that integrate Alexa; This is not the case for Google Assistant. These include Cowin DiDa, Jam Rhythm , ZOLO Halo and Kitsound Voice One. Some of these are battery powered for true portability (all of the speakers in the first part are wired), and most are competitively priced.

Google Assistant vs Alexa – smart home control

Amazon Alexa is ahead of Google Assistant in terms of support for other smart home devices. However, there isn't much point in basing your purchase on this alone, if everything you plan to buy is already covered by both platforms.

That said, if you're thinking about purchasing an experimental smart home device This became clear when we walked the floor of CES 2018, a huge consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.

Here are the compatibility outlook for some of the most popular smart home devices, as of January 2018.

Belkin Wemo
Amazon Alexa | AND 
Google Assistant | AND

Amazon Alexa | 
Google AssistantN| AND

Dyson Eye
Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | north

Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | Y (light and smart plugs only)

Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | AND

Logitech Harmony (Hub only)
Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | AND

Logi Circle
Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | AND

Amazon Alexa | AND 
Google Assistant | AND

Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | AND

Netgear Arlo
Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | N (works through SmartThings or IFTTT)

Osram Lightify
Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | AND

Philips Hue
Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | AND

Samsung SmartThings
Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | AND

Sonos One
Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | N (support coming)

TP Link Smart Lights
Amazon Alexa | AND
Google Assistant | AND

Google Assistant vs Alexa - Smart assistants in your car

The next space these attendees want to take is your car. In it CES 2018 , Toyota announced that it will bring Alexa to some Toyota and Lexus models in 2018, and other manufacturers will follow suit.

Also featured at the show were some low-cost Alexa car backpacks, including a $50 backpack from phone accessory giant Anker. This plugs into your car's power outlet (the cigarette lighter port) and connects to your phone via Bluetooth.

Google also announced that Google Assistant is coming to Android Auto, an established system found in some high-spec cars from most of the big manufacturers, including Ford, VW and Volvo.

For those without wallets deep enough to afford one of these, Auto also has a number of reasonably priced car stereos. The JVC KW-M730BT, Kenwood DMX-7017DAB and Sony XAV-AX200 among them.

Neither side has an advantage here yet, and there are undoubtedly plenty of people with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay-ready cars who never use these features. Or you don't even realize they are present.

This is more of a space to look at than one to base a 2018 purchasing decision on, unless you're a real car tech nerd.

Google Assistant vs Alexa – Privacy

Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are the technology of privacy nightmares. The data they collect powers these systems as much as any AI, and the data collected is used to inform the ads you see on your laptop and phone.

This is what the Amazon vs Google war is really about: data. Go to and what do you find? An Amazon marketing platform.

However, to suddenly get angry about this as a byproduct of the smart home is to ignore the fact that it has been the case for many years. This is the standard Google model. It's the Facebook model, too.

Both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant allow you to log into your account to view all recorded clips from your smart speakers and delete them if you wish. Google goes a step further, allowing you to disable recording of your voice commands in the 'Voice and Audio Activity' portion of your privacy settings.

However, disabling this will make your home experience worse. Therefore, if you are concerned about privacy to this extent, you should not start with any of the smart home systems.

Still torn? You may want to wait for Apple HomePod with technology Siri . While Siri stores voice data, it is anonymous, rather than directly associated with you. Amazon and Google disagree about the fact that they sell data, while Apple continues to sell hardware.

It's not that simple, of course. Apple makes the data of mine. But Apple's data collection is based on "differential privacy," which aims to ensure that this data does not lead to an individual. For now, in any case.

Google Assistant vs Alexa - Which is best?

Choosing between these smart home systems should come down to how you think you'll use a digital assistant on a day-to-day basis. If you dream of a Blade Runner-like AI that seems to have an almost unbelievable ability to know what you're talking about, Google Assistant wins.

However, it's also slower to gain compatibility with other smart home equipment. We recommend doing some research on the smart locks, lights, and thermostats on your "must buy" list to see if they are compatible with Assistant and Alexa.

One should also consider Fire TV, whose remote control is perhaps the most sensible access point for family members suspicious of a blatant "listening device," and the basic merits of smart home technology.

We've been using this technology for some time now, and Google Assistant's ability to avoid infuriating responses of "I don't get it!" It gives us a slight advantage.

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