The Google Home and Amazon Echo are a pair of chatty Cathys that can respond to a whole host of commands. But if you’re going to buy a smart hub you can talk to, you want one that’s a good listener.
Commands you can give range from mundane queries, such as asking for a news update or what the weather’s going to be like, to more adventurous ones, like booking a taxi or reserving a table at a restaurant.
If you’re going to put the fate of your evening out in the hands of a smart hub, you want to be sure it’s understanding you properly. Or else the taxi taking you to your 7.30 booking at the local bistro could end up dropping you off at Burger King instead.
The wide range of accents in the British Isles adds another challenge for these hubs to overcome. Are the hubs a dab hand at understanding the Queen’s English, but struggle with Scottish? We threw a range of accents at them to see how well they coped. You can see the results in our video below.
Find out if the Google Home and Amazon Echo feature in our list of the top smart hubs for 2017.
Amazon Echo vs Google Home
Impressively, both these hubs were top notch at understanding (our best attempts at) accents. The Google Home has the edge, though, since it can answer questions based on ones that preceded them.
The contextual responses mean you could ask the Google Home who was in a film, and then who the director was, without needing to repeat the name of the film. Clever. Should you be buying the Google Home, then? Well, there are more differences between the two talkative hubs.
What else separates these two smart hubs?
The Amazon Echo’s attention-grabbing feature is the Skills Store. Skills are the equivalent of apps – installing one adds extra features to your Echo, and allows it to respond to more commands. With skills installed, the Echo could tell you whether there are delays on your tube line, or let you check your bill with your mobile provider, or even go on a choose-your-own adventure.
Amazon has made the tools to develop skills available to anyone who wants to have a go. While that may lead to some naff ones, they are all free, so you won’t be out of pocket.
Google may not have added an equivalent of the skills store to the Home, but its hub is the only one that can recognise you based on your voice. Different family members will get different responses to questions. You can link up to six different Google accounts to the Home, so if someone asks what appointments they have today, it checks a specific Google calendar based on who is talking to it.
There’s more to consider, too, such as which hub is best at controlling smart tech, and which is best for playing music.
Read our full reviews of the Google Home and the Amazon Echo for our verdict on their smart-hub capabilities. And if you want to know which one sounds best, head to our audio reviews of the Google Home and Amazon Echo.