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What voice assistant is most practical? Battle of Google Home, Amazon Echo, Samsung SmartThings, Apple Homekit & Microsoft Cortana

Today we’re going to talk about Start Home, generally speaking. What voice assistant should I use? I hope this helps serve as a guide for the ultimate experience you are looking for!

It’s still pretty hard to tell but one thing is definitely certain- it looks like Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft are all still in the race with voice assistance.

Does it matter who you go with?
Not really, in some cases.  However if you want to have a better experience and you want to have a stable and working smart home system, with features you want- then there is some pros and cons with whatever route you decide to take..  Amazon is great for Alexa, but seems to have a fragmented experience on the hardware side of their offerings. The fact that they are releasing all different kinds of variations of the Echo and voice assistant devices, leaves me to believe- that they might be dabbling to figure out the best selling product offering or trying to tap into every Niche you can think of.  I’m hoping it is to serve some amazing purpose, but it’s hard to tell at this point.


Microsoft Cortana:

Microsoft is making its way around, but I’m not too convinced that they are trying to buy into the smart home experience, more-so than simply trying to integrate their own products like the Microsoft Xbox, Windows 10 pc, windows phone, and they’re Affiliated devices.  I like that you can connect it with Alexa, but using the interface in cortana both on smartphone and pc- is a little wonky. However, I also like that you can interact throughout your home with features like streaming your Xbox on your home computer… But these are things aren’t that seamless and take some technical “know-how” to get up and running. In addition, it’s not like I’m going to use Bing to search for products to buy or interact with their app when shopping.  They have such a limited experience with all of the different offerings that they have in the online world, and they may be trying to oversimplify which is a curse that Microsoft has always over-complicated for us techies. It gets a half-thumb.

Cortana can integrate with Philips Hue, Alexa, among other devices- but here’s a speaker I found with Cortana:

Amazon Echo:

The Amazon Echo has been a flagship for The Internet of Things. I don’t know where I would be today without it. Nevertheless, it’s not for everybody, especially if you’re not a prime user… However, if you’re trying to control as many devices as possible, and also take advantage of all of the different multi-platform experiences that Amazon has to offer- then Alexa is a great choice.  There are some limitations with the voice assistant in comparison to the homekit and Google home, but they are few-and-far between what is essentially needed for most entrants into the smart home space. I love the fact that I can have different Echos all over the house and use the multiroom music/sound experience. I also love how I can download a new skill like Jeopardy (try it out, trust me). I do not like when I’m trying to figure out geographic information and things that I would normally Google. That’s where Google home Is making great  progress in their home assistant. Echo gets a double-thumbs-up.


Here’s a few devices in the Echo’s ecosystem:

   



Google Home:
Google home is another experience that is admired by some and and has it’s differences depending on the user, ultimately. I think that it has went leaps and bounds compared to others with the machine learning and artificial intelligence for predicting what I am trying to do.  Whatever neat algorithms that Google has up its sleeve, only time will tell. I absolutely love using the assistant for when I am traveling or trying to find out information about things nearby like location, hours for the store, etc. I also like to use it sometimes to search the internet and find out the standard cooking time for chicken in the oven when baking… This is something to keep in mind, especially if you are a lifestyle-experience individual and do a lot of things from within your home that don’t involve multi-platforms. I say this because the echo is great with all of it’s multi-platform experiences like using Prime and Amazon video, but it also can lack in some of the generic questions that I ask it. Just something to keep in mind.  I give Google a thumbs up.




Samsung SmartThings:

I love SmartThings, so I’m definitely a follower of the Samsung movement.  The new app in comparison to SmartThings classic is pretty cool but I’m still not convinced that they are trying to be the dominator in the Smart Home space. That’s okay to me though, because the Hub is so versatile and works with Alexa and many other competing companies.  That said, I can purely experiment and add what I like from the SmartThings ecosystem into my own home, which I have done already! I’m not convinced they are going to go as far as Apple and Amazon want to go, but I’m okay with that. I definitely recommend buying into the Samsung offering, because the Hub and the app is so easy to use and can interface with so many other thing as an open-hub. Additionally, I love that you can also fickle with the SmartThings graph API and add things that aren’t normally certified for the hub like my Quirky window air conditioner and Nest protect.   I give Samsung and double-thumbs up.


Take a look at the variety of SmartThings on Amazon:
 



Apple Homekit:
Apple has been always a leader in use your user-friendly experiences and made a lot of headway initially when smart home started to Boom. However, I do not like closed experiences and I gave up using my iPhone a long time ago. I like to be able to do all kinds of things with my Android, but not everybody is comfortable with that or will do that. However, if you’re looking for a good base ecosystem and you are an iPhone user, it is a great place to start. I heard that the certification process was deeply entrenched and difficult- as I dealt with many smart home companies from my own experiences in the past.  This is why Amazon and SmartThings have taken the lead in versatility and compatibility- but I suspect that Apple will always have a great user-friendly experience, which they always seem to pull off. Hence why I believe they are very concerned with what can be compatible with the HomeKit.

Here’s some devices that work with Homekit:
 



At the time I wrote the first post on this topic- I was trying to find the best experience and product offering possible and ultimately I came to the same conclusion that I’m going to come to today…  Which was, that there is no one experience that will work for everybody- and it all comes down to strategically asking yourself a few important questions. What experience do I want? What solution am I trying to solve? Am I trying to secure my home, make my home easier to control, or am I simply a hobbyist trying to spice up my life with the love smart home has to offer?



In Conclusion:
So in the end, I guess what I have to say is-  that it doesn’t take a device, voice assistant, or a set of devices to create the smart home experience… It takes the user and the initial problems and ideas they are trying to solve- and how these devices can serve you. So you want to make sure that you’re asking the right questions when you enter the smart home space and you want to make sure that you get products that support your lifestyle. If you’re going to start somewhere, then make sure you start with a hub that is integrated with all devices that can solve the highest priority problems first. Then, everything else from there is a bonus after those needs are met! I hope you enjoyed my article and thank you so much for reading!

" The SmartHome Ninja : Owner, creator, imagineer, smart home enthusiast, tester, practical applicator extraordinaire.."

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