Google Assistant vs Amazon Alexa

We show the differences between Google and Amazon’s virtual assistants, so you can decide if Google or Alexa are more suited to your home.


Key points


What are smart speakers?

The Google Home and the Amazon Echo are hands-free, voice-controlled virtual assistants that have grown in popularity since their releases in 2014 (Alexa) and 2016 (Google).

They are wireless speakers that understand voice commands. They connect to the internet and to other devices around your home and can perform a variety of tasks for you.


What smart speakers can you buy?

It’s not just a question of the Google Home versus the Amazon Echo - each has its own operating system, so if you put the hardware aside, it’s more of a question of Google Assistant versus Amazon Alexa.

Both providers offer a flagship smart speaker (the Google Home and Amazon Echo), as well as a budget alternative (Google Home Mini and Amazon Dot). Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses, but your choice should come down to the virtual assistant software itself.


Smart speaker features

Both smart speakers boast the following features, all operated by voice command:

There are, of course, a few features that are specific to each device, most notably the Echo’s shopping function that lets you shop online vocally (on Amazon’s own website).

As of 2020, you can also shop via Google Home, with payments being made through Google Express.

Verbally, Alexa works better in a home with lots of supported devices, but Google Assistant tends to have better understanding of voice commands, which makes personal tasks and web browsing easier.


Apps and services

Alexa uses an App store-style service that lets you add functionality including a National Rail train time service and the ability to order a takeaway on Just Eat. You can add news apps, Uber and more to tailor your Echo to the functions you need.

When it launched in the UK, the Google Home had a decent number of services, but didn’t have anywhere near the Echo’s level of versatility. The Google Assistant has a few family friendly features though, like story-telling and children’s games. You can also connect it to a Chromecast to use it with voice commands.


Which is smarter - Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa?

There have been several attempts to work out whether Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa has a higher artificial intelligence. Google Assistant has been known to have a slightly larger brain, which allows it to interact more personally compared to Alexa, but does this necessarily make it smarter?

Each year, Loup Ventures conducts a digital assistant IQ test, giving each device 800 questions to answer and seeing how many they get correct. In 2019, Google Assistant answered 92.9% of questions correctly, whilst Alexa only scored 79.8%.

The more you talk to your smart speaker, the better it’ll learn your voice and be able to interpret your commands more easily. This applies to all smart speakers, so try out its features if you want to help it get smarter and work more efficiently.

 

Which smart speaker is right for you?

 This depends on what you want to use it for in your home.

If you’re a regular shopper you might prefer Alexa’s integrations and ordering capabilities, while you might rather the depth and breadth of answers served up by Google’s Assistant.

But there’s one other thing it’s vital to consider - what technology do you already own? If you already have Amazon devices, such as Kindle e-readers, tablets or Fire TV sticks, or you’re a regular shopper on its website, you’ll probably find it more practical to go for the Echo. On the other hand, if you use Chromecast and have an Android smartphone, you’re likely to appreciate Google Assistant’s ability to tap into these and share data.