Winter is here! You’re on your bed comfortably wrapped up like a burrito watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones. After you finished watching, you are tired and ready to go to sleep. But wait! The light switch is on the other side of the room, and you don’t want to get out of your comfortable bed to turn it off. What do you do? You can scream your roommate’s name and have him come in to help you, or you can use a smart voice assistant.
Voice assistants are one of the first things you want to get if you want to build a smart home. Currently, the two dominant voice assistants for smart home control in the market are Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Following behind these two giants is Apple’s Siri. But which one is good for you? In this article, we’ll talk about which of these voice assistants you should get for your smart home system.
Smart speakers and Price
Google Assistant and Siri come pre-installed in Android phones and iPhones respectively. And you can get Alexa to your phone by downloading the Alexa app. Having a voice assistant on your phone is great, but what you really want to do is get a smart speaker. Smart speakers act as a gateway for your smart devices and provide a much better home control experience. Below are some of the speakers you can find for each of the 3 voice assistants.
Alexa Echo Speakers:
- Echo Dot 3rd – $49.99
- Echo Show 8 – $129 (With Screen)
- Echo Studio – $199
Google Assistant Speakers
- Nest Mini 2nd – $49
- Nest Hub – $129 (With Screen)
- Nest Hub Max.- $229 (With Screen)
Apple Siri Devices
- Homepod – $299
- Apple TV/ 4K – $149/$179
- Old iPad
Both Amazon and Google have affordable options. Apple, however, only has the Homepod speaker for $299. Apple TV and iPad can also be used to control smart home devices. If you’re just getting started, I’ll recommend the Echo Dot or Nest Mini.
To give your voice assistants more functionalities, you can install an Alexa skill or a Google Action from the Google Home or Alexa app respectively. Currently, Alexa has over 58000 skills, while Google has 4000+ actions. That’s a huge difference, but realistically most of the skills or actions are not useful. Instead, we’ll focus on which of the popular devices and brands you can control with these voice assistants.
- Philips Hue – Alexa, Google, HomeKit
- Lifx – Alexa, Google, HomeKit
- Nest – Alexa, Google
- Ecobee – Alexa, Google, HomeKit
- August – Alexa, Google, HomeKit
- Yale – Alexa, Google, HomeKit
- Smart plugs
- TP-Link – Alexa, Google, HomeKit
- Wemo – Alexa, Google, HomeKit
- Ring – Alexa
- Wyze – Alexa, Google
- Arlo – Alexa, Google, HomeKit
- Nest – Alexa, Google
- Smart Hubs
- Smartthings – Alexa, Google
- Mixtile – Alexa, Google
- Aqara – Alexa, Google, HomeKit
With the exception of Ring devices, all the devices above work with Google Assistant and Alexa. Ring is owned by Amazon and it only works with Alexa. The list of compatible devices (HomeKit) for Apple’s ecosystem is limited.
Smart hubs are gateways that allow you to connect to various types of smart home devices. They usually support many radio protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, etc. All the Echo and Google devices (with the exception of Echo Plus) can only connect Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. To give your assistants more compatible devices, you need to get a smart hub and connect it to your speaker. To learn about Mixtile Hub, click here. And to learn about Zigbee and Z-Wave, click here.
Alexa and Google Assistant devices are priced similar and they work with most of the popular brands in the market. For the purpose of home control, either one will be fine. There may be other none-home-control features that you want to consider such as aesthetics, sound quality, subscription services, etc. If, however, you must use the Apple ecosystem, set up an old iPad as a gateway and buy HomeKit-compatible devices.