Smartphones have forever modified how we communicate with the outside world. From doing a Google Search to finding somewhere to eat in a foreign country, we live during an exciting time. Having the web at our fingertips is something we probably didn’t think was possible just a few decades ago.
However, if there’s one concept that’s only become popular until recent memory is the widespread automation of devices. Take into account a time when ideas of the future included advanced robots as standard household equipment, and everything else was automated. The Internet wouldn’t come around until the early 90’s and the future the Internet of Things (IoT) still had a ways to go. Even then, home automation was not attainable until mobile technology developed a little more.
To create a fully automated home, tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google have stepped in to try and offer their own solutions. While they each try to achieve the same things, the Amazon Echo, Google Assistant and Apple Homekit are different in their own ways. Here’s a look at what each does well and not so well.
Google Home with Google Assistant
Google’s own properties like search and Android mobile OS impacts so many on a daily basis, it’s only natural Google wanted another angle to get into everyone’s home. Until Google launched the Google Assistant, Amazon was your only option for home automation.
The major benefits of the Google Home and Assistant is that they are backed by Google’s network of software and tools. The biggest of which include Android’s level of customization, and Google Search. Amazon has had a head start in home automation, but Google has far more experience with voice commands and user behavioral data.
Google Assistant with Google Home – Pro’s
– Google Search gives high-quality answers to user questions
– Syncs with Google properties plus Google Chromecast
– Decent speaker with heavier bass qualities
Google Assistant with Google Home – Con’s
– Fewer “skills” than Amazon Alexa
– Can’t connect via Bluetooth
– Far less devices and services are compatible compared to Amazon
Google Assistant with Google Home Price
If Google Home seems like a viable option for automating your home, there’s only one option if you want voice control. Looking at just the device, the Google Assistant does less than the Amazon Echo and can be bought for roughly the same price at $129. But the Assistant is Google’s only device option, and Amazon has more budget-friendly alternatives.
Amazon Echo with Alexa
The most common home automation device, and automation system, is the Amazon Echo. To date, the Echo is one of Amazon’s most popular pieces of tech to date, and that’s including the Kindle and Fire Stick. Amazon says that the Echo functions primarily as a music player, but the real reason behind the Echo’s popularity is Alexa; Amazon’s very own digital assistant.
A digital personal assistant similar to Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana, Alexa can provide sports scores, traffic reports, and queue up your music as just a few common tasks. Alexa works from voice commands, but there is so much more that this digital assistant can do. Alexa is the core of the Echo and makes it act as centralized “hub” for connecting users’ IoT devices.
Looking at the Amazon Echo’s list of compatible devices that are compatible with the, the list is huge and continues to grow all the time. Connectivity includes many popular standalone automation devices like home security and smart thermostats. But it also can connect with purely automation smarthubs like the ones offered by Samsung and Wink.
Let’s break down the pro’s, con’s and other stuff you should know about the Amazon Echo.
Amazon Echo – Pro’s
– Has the largest list of compatible devices, and streaming service connectivity
– Alexa has the largest “skill” library; can perform more tasks than Google & Apple
– Great speaker with Bluetooth connectivity
Amazon Echo – Con’s
– Temptation for impulse purchases increases since it connects to Amazon buyer account
– The original Echo is large in size
Amazon Echo Price
For the original Amazon Echo speaker and digital assistant, pricing can vary since Amazon runs sales on the Echo regularly. Consumers are looking at a price of $129.99 direct from Amazon, although other retailers are selling the device for much higher. If the Echo has a high price point, you can always opt for the more compact Echo Dot at $50. The speaker isn’t as good, but Alexa is still there with all that she can do. Since the Echo only functions via voice command, the Echo Dot can also be added to an existing Echo device.
Apple Homekit with Siri
Apple is one of the undisputed kings when it comes to creating one of the most poplar and in-demand technology on the planet. But they were the last to jump in when it came to home automation; what took so long?
Siri is synonymous with voice command technology, and Apple has years of research and data to craft a good experience for consumers. Apple fans rejoiced after the news of the Apple Homekit, their solution for creating an IoT connected ecosystem.
The only thing to be said about the Homekit is that it is far behind Amazon and Google. The biggest difference is that Apple has yet to launch the HomePod, which is its only way to stay competitive with Amazon and Google.
Additionally, because there is no dedicated hub device available yet, things become more complicated. If you want control when away from home, you either need an iPad or Apple TV left at home to act as a gateway.
While the Apple Homekit is compatible with a very limited number of devices like garage door openers, what’s baffling is why it doesn’t connect with the market’s most popular thermostat device, the Nest. Apple’s Homekit has a very restrictive number of services and devices with which it can connect to.
Apple Homekit – Pro’s
– Integrates easily with Siri and iOs software
– Doesn’t require a hub or central device for control
– Low fuss and decent entry point for connected devices
Apple Homekit – Con’s
– Far less compatibility than Amazon and Google
– Requires an iPhone/iPad to use
– iPad or Apple TV required as a gateway if you want control away from home
Apple Homekit Price
Because there is no dedicated device available for the Homekit, the platform is essentially free to use. Provided of course that you have a device loaded up with the latest version of iOs (meaning you have to own an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV in order for it to work).
Who’s the winner?
When comparing Google, Amazon, and Apple for home automation, it can feel like there is a lot to consider. However, it’s clear that being the first to jump into the IoT market has given Amazon an incredible advantage.
For the largest list of device and overall compatibility, the Echo is the best choice for home automation. With multiple price points to get you started, and a better overall device hub, Amazon has the most to offer. Perhaps Google and Apple will catch up eventually, but the Amazon Echo will give you the best bang for your buck.