With Amazon, Google and Apple battling to create the most useful voice assistant, there’s a lot to consider when you’re shopping for your first smart home hub. To help you pick a side, we’ve uncovered which works best according to your priorities.
Whether you’re looking for a smart hub to act as a living room DJ or a remote control for your lights, you have plenty of options to choose from. Ultimately, which smart hub suits you best will depend on the apps you use the most.
See below for more on how to choose between Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.
Smart hub reviews – control your home with top smart tech.
Third-party apps – Amazon Alexa
When it comes to adding functionality to your device using third-party apps, known as ‘skills’, Alexa is way ahead.
The Alexa voice assistant lives inside a selection of Amazon gadgets including the Echo smart hub, Fire HD 10 tablet and Amazon Fire TV streaming stick.
Why it’s so good
Like its rivals, it aims to make your life easier by interacting with your most-used apps and controlling your smart devices. Keen online shoppers will be pleased to hear that you can order goods from Amazon UK with Alexa. A quick voice command lets you add items to your shopping list, or track packages on their way to your doorstep.
We’ve tested Amazon’s smart hub range in our test lab, recently putting the 2nd generation Amazon Echo through its paces. Following in the footsteps of Amazon’s original best-selling smart hub, the new Echo comes with Alexa pre-installed. The smart hub costs around £90, which gets you a smart Bluetooth speaker that can play music, schedule alarms and events and control your internet-enabled devices. This new version has five different fabric finishes – charcoal, heather grey, oak, sandstone or walnut.
Is Amazon’s smart hub one of the best around? You’ll have to read our full Amazon Echo (2nd generation) review to see if it’s a Best Buy. Alternatively, see our full range of Amazon smart hub reviews.
Speedy web searches – Google Assistant
For browsing the internet, Google Assistant comes out top.
If you own an Android smartphone, you’ll probably be familiar with Google Assistant already. The handy voice assistant can manage content on your smartphone (schedule alarms, save notes, send messages) but is also found in Google’s smart hubs.
Why it’s so good
The budget-priced Google Home Mini might be on your radar if you want to chat with a smart hub without spending big. The hand-sized speaker arrives with Google Assistant tucked inside, and you can use the Google Home companion app to generate personalised responses. Tell the app where you work, for example, and you can request live traffic updates before you leave the house.
Controlling your smart devices – Siri
If you want to have maximum control over the internet-connected devices in your home, Siri is hard to beat.
Apple’s AI helper made its debut on the iPhone 4S back in 2011. Since then, it has been treated to regular updates, the biggest of which added smart-device support through the free HomeKit app.
Why it’s so good
Siri has been available on the iPhone and iPad for years, and now it’s made its way to Apple’s first Bluetooth speaker and smart hub hybrid – the HomePod. Its main function is to serve as a capable Bluetooth speaker, but it also supports a range of Siri commands. If you use Apple’s own apps on your iPhone or iPad you’ll feel right at home, as Siri on the HomePod can access Calendar, Music, Notes and Reminders.
Want a summary of the HomePod’s headline-grabbing features? See our Apple HomePod first look review.
We’ve updated our smart hubs advice to give you even more tips on how to choose the right one for you. For more details on the differences between each voice assistant, see our new guide to Amazon Alexa vs Google Assistant vs Siri.
And if you already own a smart hub and want to learn some new tricks, read our guide to essential smart hub commands.