We humans are tribal by nature. Of course, our tribalism against them has passed into technology - AM vs. FM, VHS vs. Beta, Windows vs. Mac, iPhone vs. Android, PlayStation vs. Xbox, etc. The smart home market continues this technological tribalism with compatible clans.
So how do you decide which of the three major voice-controlled smart home tribes ... er, I mean ecosystems - Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit - is right for you?
Your decision on the smart home ecosystem may have already been made for you. You probably already have some smart devices that are compatible with Amazon, Google, or Apple - a smartphone, a smart TV, a smart lock, a camera Wi-Fi or bell security, smart light bulbs or lights, smart thermostat, smart smoke / CO2 detector, robot vacuum cleaner, smart garage door opener, smart windows, etc. Analyze current devices. Even if it currently works with its own separate smartphone apps, check to see if they are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple HomeKit.
See also: What is a smart home?
If you don't already own a smart speaker - and only about a third of American households - or any other smart device, Amazon, Google and Apple each have their ergonomic and functional advantages and disadvantages. (Our sister site TechRadar recently posted “Best Smart Speakers 2020,” as well as a “Amazon Echo vs. Google Home” showdown.)
To choose the right ecosystem, you want to know three things:
1. How expansive is each ecosystem?
2. How "smart" is each system?
3. What is best for home security?
While the cost of entry for the Apple Homekit is more expensive than most Amazon Alexa or Google Home / Nest speakers, most smart home components don't vary much in price from ecosystem to ecosystem.
How extensive is each ecosystem?
You can start your smart home with one or two devices, but eventually you'll want to expand with additional devices.
To control your smart home voice, you need to make sure that smart gadgets can be heard anywhere, anywhere in and around your home. Google sells a small variety of Home and Nest Google Assistant speakers, and Apple has a single smart speaker for HomeKit, HomePod. But all Android phones and many smart watches allow you to control your voice at home, and every Apple mobile device - iPhone, iPad, Watch, AirPod - acts as a HomeKit speaker via Apple's Siri voice assistant.
Amazon has licensed Alexa for a lot of smart speaker manufacturers, which means that there is a huge variety of Alexa compatible smart speakers available in different sizes, shapes and prices. But you may not need a separate Alexa smart speaker in each room. Hundreds of smart home gadgets have even incorporated Alexa. An Alexa-compatible device, equipped with both a microphone and a speaker, can answer your questions, play music, control other gadgets, etc., just like a separate Alexa speaker. Or, your device may simply include a microphone to listen to your device-specific Alexa control commands.
Not only are there a lot of Alexa compatible speakers and gadgets to choose from, the universe of Alexa compatible products is also much larger. According to Amazon, "[t]here are currently over 100,000 smart home devices that can be controlled with Alexa, from more than 9,500 unique brands. ”
One year ago, Google said the Assistant "works with more than 30,000 devices from over 3,500 home automation brands." This number has probably increased, but Google still has a long way to go before it can get equity with the Alexa-compatible product universe.
HomeKit lags far behind both Amazon and Google in the number of brands that produce compatible products. According to Apple, "[o]100 brands around the world are committed to providing HomeKit compatible accessories, and the number available is increasing every day. ”
How smart is each Smart Home ecosystem?
Although there may be more Alexa-compatible products, Google Assistant can not only perform smarter actions at home, but has been considered smarter in general.
According to Google, the Wizard can perform more than a million actions, while Amazon celebrated about a year ago that it exceeded 100,000 "skills".
Not only can Google Assistant do more smart things for the home, but he's been smarter than Alexa in general. According to the latest IQ test of the voice assistant conducted by venture capital firm Loup Ventures, "Google Assistant correctly answered 93% of the questions in the 800 query test, compared to 83% for Siri and 80% for Alexa." These results make perfect sense; after all, Google is a search company. However, some reports in the last year have indicated that Alexa has closed the information gap. Amazon, Google and Apple are constantly striving to make their ecosystems smarter and more responsive, even primitive conversational.
Google Assistant is also more language-savvy than Alexa. According to Globalme, a language and technology company, Alexa understands eight languages while Google is fluent in 13 languages, each with different dialects. HomePod is the most multilingual of voice assistants, however, able to respond to queries in 21 languages, plus distinct dialects in each.
Surprisingly, given Alexa's connection to Amazon shopping, Google was also considered superior when it came to voice commerce. According to Loup Ventures, "The Google Assistant correctly answers many questions about product and service information and where to buy certain items, and Google Express is just as capable as Amazon about actually purchasing items or replenishing regular goods. which you have bought before ”.
Which is best for home security?
Being able to control or turn off the lights, the window to fill up or down or set the temperature of your house is very convenient. But your decision on the smart home ecosystem may depend on how smart you can make your home.
Both Amazon and Google offer smart DIY security options, both through third-party compatible devices, purchases or partnerships with home security vendors, and links to professional monitoring companies.
If home security is the reason for your decision about the smart home ecosystem, then Amazon has an advantage over Google.
In terms of product and price, Amazon offers a much wider variety of smart home security equipment options for less money, thanks to the purchase of the pioneering ringtone ring in April 2018. For example, Google sells a single kit Nest Secure boot for $ 399; the comparable alarm bell package is $ 150 less. In addition, while there is only the unique Nest Secure package, there are five Ring Alarm packages, including one for $ 329.99, which cover twice as much physical space in your home as the Nest Secure kit.
The ring also offers home monitoring benefits and features. Ring Protect 24/7 professional monitoring costs only $ 10 per month; Google is partnering with Brinks, which charges three times as much.
In addition to cheaper home monitoring, Ring adds its Neighbors by Ring feature, which allows you to share security images and security alerts with Ring ringer owners and security cameras living around you and local law enforcement.
However, in early August, Google bought some of the ADT home security giant. A Google-ADT partnership could substantially change the smart security competition of Google homes with Ring and Amazon.
Your final decision
Your home will become extremely smarter by installing any of the three major smart home ecosystems. There may be differences in how many smart gadgets you can add, how smart each ecosystem is, and how secure your home can be, but your ecosystem decision will come down to exactly what specific features you want for your home. smart to perform.
See also: What is a smart home