Amazon Alexa vs. Google Assistant: Which Voice Assistant Is Best for You?

Amazon Alexa vs. Google Assistant: Which Voice Assistant Is Best for You?

As music-listening devices, voice-controlled speakers are convenient for people who like to always have music or podcasts around them but don’t want to fuss with a smartphone to select their channels or playlists. Simply say a trigger word and tell it what you want to listen to, and it starts playing. But they’re also digital assistants that can be used to control smart devices, order products online, and much more. Both Alexa and Google Assistant are pretty good at these tasks, but Alexa can do more things, especially when it comes to controlling smart-home gear.

The best smart assistant for your home will vary depending on your priorities, the devices you may want to control, and the services you subscribe to. You’ll also have to choose between an increasingly complex variety of speakers with extra features like screens, upgraded audio performance, and extended smart-home support. We’ve included only Alexa and Google Assistant devices here, though Apple’s Siri is popular by default because it’s in most iPhones and iPads. Apple’s voice-controlled HomePod, however, hasn’t had nearly the same impact as the Amazon and Google speakers.

Our pick

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot

Alexa for less

This is perfect for audio-lite applications or basic digital-assistant and smart-home tasks.

Buying Options

$50* from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.

As an entry-level device for Alexa, the Amazon Echo Dot isn’t yet the all-capable computer from Star Trek, but it’s still a pretty smart digital assistant that does everything its bigger siblings do, and for a smaller investment. If you care at all about smart-home controls, or if you’re a frequent user of Amazon Prime, Amazon’s Alexa platform is the best option for your home for its depth of capabilities, wide smart-home device support, and ability to play the most popular music streaming services. In addition to its built-in features, the Alexa platform includes a growing list (more than 100,000 as of this writing) of Skills—akin to apps on a smartphone—that unlock capabilities such as reading recipes, ordering pizza, or calling an Uber. Not all of its Skills are useful, but Alexa still does far more than Google Assistant. Amazon offers several other Alexa-enabled smart speakers in addition to the standard-model Echo; we recommend several here, or you can read our guide to Alexa speakers to find our favorites.

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Our pick

Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation)

Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation)

Ground-level Google Assistant

This is great for creating an inexpensive multiroom audio system and connecting with Google apps, though it’s less useful than Alexa for some tasks.

Buying Options

$35 from Amazon
$35 from Best Buy
$50 from Staples

The budget-friendly Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation) has the advantage of Google’s search and voice-control expertise, plus the ability to tie in to your various Google accounts, so you can check your Google calendar for the day, manage reminders in Google Keep, and report traffic conditions on your commute harnessing Google Maps data. If you have more than one user account, the Nest Mini can even differentiate who is talking by the sound of their voice (which means it can serve up the right data to the right person). But the Google portion of the Nest Mini isn’t quite as capable as we’d like. It generally provides more detailed answers than Alexa, but in day-to-day use, it’s not noticeably more capable at performing simple tasks—for example, the process to add events to your Google calendar is needlessly awkward. And while it has some smart-home integrations and third-party Actions comparable to Alexa’s Skills, it has fewer of either than Alexa does, though it continues to improve. We recommend a few other Google Assistant devices below and have a guide to the best smart displays and the best Google Assistant devices.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot

Alexa for less

This is perfect for audio-lite applications or basic digital-assistant and smart-home tasks.

Buying Options

$50* from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $25.

Our pick

Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation)

Google Nest Mini (2nd Generation)

Ground-level Google Assistant

This is great for creating an inexpensive multiroom audio system and connecting with Google apps, though it’s less useful than Alexa for some tasks.

Buying Options

$35 from Amazon
$35 from Best Buy
$50 from Staples

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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