A Buyer’s Guide: The Best Smart Home Assistants
No matter if they are in the form of smartphones or compact speakers, smart assistants have effectively infiltrated our lives and become a part of our everyday routines. In 2011, Apple’s Siri was not only introduced as the newest iPhone feature but the first consumer-friendly voice assistant as well.
Since then, virtual companions have been introduced across the board, hoping to sway devotees away from Apple’s platform and exorbitant price points. Although it seemed as though such success was impossible to achieve, Amazon and Google have effectively undercut their fellow tech titan, providing the public with effective, affordably priced smart assistants that outperform even the newest Apple invention: the HomePod.
However, some consumers are still conflicted, unsure of which smart home assistant would best meet their needs — or if they even require a smart home assistant at all. With that in mind, let us compare these competing smart home hubs.
What was once just the Echo has expanded into an entire line of products, varying in shape, size, and price, making it one of the most consumer-friendly brands on the market.
Equipped with Alexa, Amazon’s wildly popular smart assistant, this smart device can do more than just answer the questions that pop into your mind. Instead, Alexa is capable of ordering pizzas, calling you an Uber, and connecting with your other smart devices — such as vacuum cleaners, fans, air purifiers, diffusers, and kitchen appliances.
Furthermore, these devices provide excellent sound quality, especially if you purchase the newest full-size Echo, which comes complete with Dolby Atmos speakers.
The biggest competition for the Amazon Echo family is, without a doubt, Google Home. Available in three levels and sizes, this line is just as accessible, user-friendly, and affordable as its competitor.
Plus, this speaker is equipped with Google Assistant, a robust companion that is backed by the one and only search engine that shares its name. Because of this, Google Assistant has been proven to answer questions faster and more accurately than Amazon’s Alexa.
Additionally, this device is able to understand questions of varying structures and carry on comprehensible conversations. Finally, Google Assistant is also capable of differentiating between users via Voice Match, meaning their personal data — such as login credentials, banking information, and Netflix access codes — are completely inaccessible by those with whom they share the device.
Last and, unfortunately, least, we have the Apple HomePod. Originally, this device was slated to hit the shelves just before Christmas 2017, making it a strong competitor to Amazon and Google alike. However, due to some production issues, the Apple HomePod was delayed until just this month, effectively losing Apple the advantage it so desired.
Now that the device has been made available to the public, many consumers are underwhelmed by its design, features and, most importantly, price point. Granted, the HomePod is equipped with six microphones to ensure Siri can hear your every word, regardless of your distance, but that is really its only standalone feature. That is, unless you subscribe to Apple Music, own an iOS device, and do not mind spending $350 on a smart assistant that will likely misunderstand your request.
Users with Android phones or those who are not subscribed to Apple Music will likely encounter some issues, as the device is not compatible with competitors’ smartphones, Spotify, Pandora, or virtually anything outside of the Apple ecosystem.
Ultimately, the decision is the consumer’s to make. However, it is important to note that some of these smart assistants clearly outperform others. So, be sure to look past brand names and choose the device that would best suit your own needs, rather than dropping an exorbitant amount of money on a lackluster product.