Friday, 12 January 2018

Amazon Echo or Google Home?

We have both. Our household is slowly getting used to the presence of two machine learning devices. What do they offer?




Both are excellent devices. The family make extensive use of music services almost all of the time they are in the room with the device and we have heard music as diverse as Monteverdi, Frank Sinatra, Vera Lynn and the British Grime scene. ( My son will be disgusted I can't remember any Grime artists). 


We have occasional times when we explore how much it actually knows and can respond to. Recent questions include:

  • How many seconds are there in 55 years? Turns out I am 1,734,480,000 seconds old!
  • Will you marry me?
  • What is the weather like?
  • What is this piece of music?
  • When was (insert an historical event)?



The Google Home arrived first. It was really simple to set up and I am really pleased with the sound quality of such a small device. We would have stopped there except during the family holiday to Crete in August 2017, my Mother-in-Law found the Google Home an invaluable companion. She would ask it for weather reports from Crete so she could compare it with her own weather here in the UK and ask it to play her music. My Mother-in-Law is registered blind and she really enjoys her Audible book subscription and Google doesn't have a link to that service yet. So, an Echo arrived at the house. A few clicks later and the Audible account was linked to the echo and she started her new friendship with Alexa.


She really enjoys her books and radio on her Echo. I do have to say that Alexa is really fussy about her name. My Mother-in-Law is 85 and she should be allowed to call Alexa Alexia and get away with it. That is not to say that Google is any less particular!

The control system for our heating is not compatible. I am sorely tempted to change it so my Mother-in-Law can control her own heating but the cost is a little high. We have yet to explore lighting but I suspect it may come if the bulb prices come below £20.00.

The next step will be Echo Connect. This has the potential to be huge for us.  My Mother-in-Law staggers from her room most evenings to ask us to dial a number for her. Echo Connect will allow her to manage her own landline via her Echo. Her phone is an absolute saviour for her and keeps a connection to her friends who are now dotted all around the country and world. We dial numbers for her gladly and will always continue to do so but she worries about pestering us and it would be nice to give her back a modicum of independence and control. Two things she really misses with the onset of her blindness.

So in conclusion, two fantastic devices and very little to choose between them. Still, some further integrations and cross compatibility to sort and longing for a link to the landline. If you are wondering which device to go for, I would recommend you go for one that integrates with most of the rest of your digital self. Finally, apologies who started reading looking for a detailed insight into these two devices.