Introduced in 2016, the Google Home is a direct competitor to the Amazon Echo. At the start, the functionality was a bit lacking behind Alexa but has since then pretty much caught up to even with Amazons voice assistant.
You can ask both of them questions, play music, control smart home devices, etc.. As one assistant gains the ability to accomplish some new task, the other almost immediately copies them to even up the score.
I will say that the Google assistant does sound a bit more natural than Alexa and can recognize some commands better. There are some commands that Alexa picks up better than the Google, however.
So it comes down to which ecosystem do you want to buy into?
The Amazon line of Alexa devices includes the Echo, Dot, Spot, Show, Tap, Plus, and Look. You can also pull up Alexa on a FireTV, Fire Tablets, and your smartphone through hands-free music in the Amazon Music app.
You can purchase products from Amazon on the Echo, and it uses its own Amazon Prime and Amazon Unlimited as the default music service respectively. You can also control your Fire TV natively and consume all your Prime video content through that integration.
The Google Assistant is native in the Google Home, Mini, and Max. You can also access her through Chromecast and on your Android smartphone.
You can purchase products through Google Express, and it uses Google's Play Music service as the default. You can control your Chromecast natively and consume all your purchased programming, and you can easily control Youtube.
While there isn’t much of a gap between the two voice assistants at the moment, Google is working on some things that might differentiate it from Alexa.
Codenamed Duplex, Google has created the ability for their voice assistant to call and make an appointment for you.
They do this by dialing up the number and having a real conversation with the person who picks up the phone. This “real” conversation is actually Goggles computerized voice assistant disguised as a real human being. It sounds so natural and human-like that the person on the other end can’t tell that it’s not you.
They are also going to be releasing third-party Google Home devices with a built-in screen from a handful of companies like JBL. The advantage over the Echo Show and the Spot is that Google supports Youtube natively.
The HomePod, like the Echo and Google Home, is a smart speaker designed and developed by Apple. It was introduced in 2017 and is the latest entrant into the race.
It's lagging behind its competitors in a handful of ways but is a worthy advisory nonetheless. You can listen to music, control your smart home, and ask it questions.
Asking a question is currently where the HomePod struggles. Where you might ask Alexa and the Google assistant sample questions and get a quick, easy answer, the Homepod often gives either the wrong answer or she will tell you that she can’t answer it at all.
As I said, it can control your smart home but only if the smart home device you purchase is HomeKit compatible. That covers many of the popular devices like Philips Hue, but it leaves many hundreds of devices out of the mix.
If you’ve seen or done any research on the HomePod, you would know that where it shines is in its hardware. The speakers sound absolutely fantastic, and for a stand-alone unit, the Echo or the Google Home (even the Google Home Max super large speaker edition) can’t compete.
The microphones in the device are also superior to anything else on the market. You can have the HomePod cranked all the way up, and by speaking normally, without yelling, the HomePod can hear your command.
The HomePod is a very new product, and it’s reasonably accurate to say that even though it costs in the neighborhood of $350, it’s still in beta.
Apple will no doubt increase its abilities and functionality in the near future. The biggest question in everybody's mind is whether or not Siri will ever become the capable voice assistant that Alexa and Google currently are.