Google Home is Here

In New Kid on the Block, I noted I had ordered the new Google Home, Google’s foray into the virtual (digital) assistant fray, joining Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri.

I also noted I would give my impressions of Google Home once it was received and I had a chance to compare and contrast it to Amazon’s products – the Echo, Tap, and Dot – devices spread throughout my house and which have been in use for some time. More specifically, primarily the comparison is to the Echo, the Amazon assistant which Home most directly competes against.

Google Home

Google home ships in attractive, sturdy packaging

Upon receipt of Google Home, I initially placed it in our front foyer. However, after a couple days, I decided to move it to the living room and place a Dot in its place, primarily because I have most of the lamps in our home, including the one in the foyer, linked to the Amazon platform.

Amazon Dot - Foyer

The Dot and its new leather cover sit in the foyer …

Google Home - Dot

While the Home found a home in the living room.

Description and Features

As a reminder, Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own Google, always ready to help. Just start with, “Ok Google” or “Hey Google” which is my preference. The specifications are as follows;

  • Connectivity: 802.11ac (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) Wi-Fi
  • Supported operating systems: Android 4.1 and higher, iOS 8.0 and higher
  • Weight: 1.05 lbs
  • Dimensions: Height: 5.62 inch, Diameter: 3.79 inch
  • Color: White body, Slate fabric
  • What’s in the box: Google Home, power supply, quick start guide

According to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Google Assistant will keep getting smarter the more you use it, to the point that it’ll be so customized to the user that essentially, each user’s Google Assistant will be unique.

Right now the primary way we use the digital assistants is to get news, listen to podcasts, manage lamps throughout the home, manage shopping lists, set timers and alarms, and listen to music.

On all fronts, Google Home and Amazon Echo are quite comparable. Each has intuitive, capable apps – iPhone versions for me – which makes setup, management, and interaction with the devices a breeze.

Each answers most questions with aplomb, allow you to configure your desired news sources, provide weather updates, manage shopping lists which are easily created and retrieved, effectively manage timers and alarms, and listen to a wide variety to music via their respective music services, Google Play Music and Amazon Prime Music.

I can’t discern a difference with respect to the ability of each device to listen and execute commands and inquiries. Both utilize an array of microphones to pick up sound and each works quite well. With respect to sound quality, I would give a slight edge to Amazon’s Echo which offers slightly better bass and a wider range.

As a nice touch, both provide the opportunity to customize their devices … or more accurately, some of their devices in the case of Amazon. While there are no covers for the Echo, there are six covers available for Dots. You might be able to make out the Merlot Leather case in my Foyer Dot above.

Echo Covers

Google has gone a different way and allows you to replace the entire base with a color and/or style of your choice. For now you can choose a fabric or metal base, both of which offer three colors. My Mango Fabric base has been ordered and is on the way.

Google Home - Bases

Final Thoughts

You can’t go wrong with either device. Both work with third-party devices which allow you to control/interact with devices around your home such as lights and thermostats; and I would expect the number of third-party accessories/devices will expand significantly for both in the near future.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is upon us and I have no doubt Google and Amazon – primarily via their respective digital assistants – will play significant roles. Your choice for which device(s) to scatter throughout your home, should you choose any, will likely come down to simply which company/platform you’ve already formed a relationship. A member of Amazon Prime and own an Amazon TV streaming device or two? You’ll probably go with an Echo and a few Dots. Do you prefer Google Play for your digital distribution needs and have a couple Chromecasts connected to TVs? You’ll probably go with Home.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.

2 Comments

  1. James, you’re cutting edge, my friend. No surprise that the first place I read about Google Home was on your post, this morning. Always ahead of me, thanks for breaking the trail. As for me, I still use a light switch. I struggle to see the cost/benefit of these things at this point, though I’m continuing to monitor….thanks for being the light on my path.

    • A household can certainly get by without a digital assistant such as Google Home or Amazon Echo (or Amazon Dot). At this point they are largely useful as convenience tools and information sources. Even though an argument can be made than since the assistants provide the capability of turning lights on/off on a schedule and via voice commands (assuming people leave lights/appliances on because it’s easier than getting off the couch) a few pennies can be saved, I would be hard pressed to make the case the ROI would for $100 – $150 device would occur in a relatively short period of time. A stronger case could be made for devices like the Nest Learning Thermostat which work with the Amazon products.

      The justification for spending money on such a device may not be there right now; however, the IoT, of which the assistants are part of, is coming and our households (and cars, etc.) will be transformed in the very near future.

      Perhaps I’ll take the time to shoot a short video demonstrating some of the capabilities. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

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