My eldest son has recently wanted to listen to more music. So for his birthday we decided we would get him a smart speaker. We were mainly looking at the Google Home and the Amazon Alexa, as these seem to be the 2 main players in the smart speaker market. We soon started to realise its not as simple as it seems to decide. Which features do each of them have? Which music streaming services are available for them?
What can a Google Home do?
It seems quite a straight forward question for a speaker, “what does it do?” With a smart speaker it isn’t as straight forward. Smart speakers such as the Google Home do so much more than just play music, they are a personal assistant to. My son (as am I ) is quite geeky when it comes to tech, so he would make the most of any feature it has. Although the Google Home in this case will mainly be used as a music streaming device, I wanted to investigate all of the other features and compatible services. Googles AI is pretty sophisticated and is capable of some pretty awesome stuff, especially when you consider the price.
Google Home – Music Streaming
As Google offer their own Music Streaming service, it was pretty obviously this service was going to be compatible and the preferred services. I don’t think Google’s music streaming service is the best on the market, so I wanted to see which other options I had.
Spotify is compatible and probably a preferred solution for a lot of families. Both the free and paid versions are supported on Google Home, which is great. Spotify has one of the biggest music libraries of all the music streaming services available, so is a great choice for most families.
Pandora is supported, but only in the US. So if you outside of the US (like me) your out of luck. Which is a shame as Pandora is a great streaming service, although I guest support for more counties will eventually come.
YouTube Music is also supported, but is only supported in the US and Australia. Again, I assume these will be available to more countries soon.
I was disappointed to see that Napster isn’t supported on the Google Home, as we currently use Napster on Sonos. Napster offer a great streaming service, I assume Napster will eventually supported, there is no news on this as yet.
Maybe not so much of a surprise, but Amazon Music and Apple Music are not supported. As Amazon and Apple are the main competitors to the Google Home, I doubt there are any plans to support either of these anytime soon.
Google Home – Chromecast integration
As you might expect Google Home integrates pretty well with Google Chromecast. You can send you results straight to your Chromecast. So if you ask the Google Home a “how to” type question for example, you can send the YouTube results straight to the Chromecast or to you Android phone.
Google Home – device compatibility
Google work closely with most big home automation companies, to make the Google home compatible with as many devices as they can. There are literally 100’s of devices compatible from heating and lighting to Roomba to pet feeding devices. This makes the Google home a great choice if you have home automation devices in your home. Here is a list of Google Assistant partners.
Google Home – Build quality
The build quality of the Google home is pretty good. There haven’t been too many complaints of quality issues and on the whole seems quite sturdy. The construction is made from a strong plastic which seems ok. As the device isn’t really designed to be moved about too much, they don’t seem to get dropped too often. The bottom plastic is interchangeable, so even if you did managed to break it, you can buy replacements for the bottom section. These bottom sections are also available in different colours and finishes, both Google and 3rd parties make these parts so there are lots of choices available.
Google Home – Speaker Quality
As the main purpose for my son is to play music, the sound quality is obviously important. The speaker sounds quite good and for the price isn’t too bad, however don’t expect earth moving sound. The speaker only quite small, so isn’t capable of deep base. However, the speaker is capable of providing a decent sound in a bedroom or kitchen.
Google Home – Personal assistant
The personal assistant feature in the Google Home is the most fun and cleverest part. I wasn’t holding out too much hope for the voice recognition and responsiveness, luckily I was wrong, both the Voice recognition and responsiveness are awesome. The voice recognition is usually pretty accurate, it has the bonus feature of disguising between 5 different voices. This means you can configure it with up to 5 Google accounts and get personalised response based on your voice. Sometime I found myself expecting too much from the personal assistant, but on the whole it is pretty clever!
Google Home – Dads Tech Hub Thoughts
I ended up buying a Google Home for my son, so I obviously was impressed. I think the Google personal assistant is slightly better than the Amazon Alexa, although the Amazon Alex has more actions available, I think the Google Home offers a better all round experience. The only area where I think the Google Home falls behind the Amazon Alexa is from a shopping front, the Alexa personal assistant obviously integrates with Amazon, so it tends to work better for shopping.