Google Home vs Amazon Echo: Which One Is Best For You?

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home
Lifewire (Amazon Echo: Amazon; Google Home: Google)

​Want a little more music out of your smart speaker without paying an arm and a leg? The Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini are great devices for controlling your home, keeping track of your schedule or answering the oddball trivia questions that pop into your head, but they aren't exactly bringing the volume. The Amazon Echo and Google Home hit that mid-range with a good speaker setup but not so over the top that they cost too much.

These smart speakers are basically better-sounding versions of their little siblings, so if you are trying to save the most money, you can also compare the Echo Dot and the Home Mini that both come in at about half the price.

Best Speaker

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is loud enough to be used as a single-room speaker and is a major upgrade over the Echo Dot. Like its smaller sibling, it sounds best in the mid-range, which is where the human voice registers, but it still holds up well when playing music.

What We Like

  • The Amazon Echo has plenty of volume and is noticeably louder than the Google Home.


  • The 3.5 mm audio out and the ability to use Bluetooth audio out allows you to hook up an external speaker, which can turn the Echo into a system an audiophile would love.


What We Don't Like

  • The focus on voice rather than music makes the Echo's sound quality equal to a much cheaper Bluetooth speaker.


The Google Home speaker is designed to emphasize high and low range, which gives it better treble and bass sounds with a dip in the mid-range, which gives it an advantage playing music at house volume levels. 

What We Like

  • Good sound quality for a speaker in this price range.


  • The dual passive radiators help bring out the bass.


What We Don't Like

  • The sound quality deteriorates somewhat when you try to crank the volume close to max.


  • It's not as loud as the Echo.


Our pick: Depends. ​

This one is really going to come down to how you plan to use the smart speaker. Neither speaker will be mistaken for an upper-end wireless speaker like the Sonos system or Apple's new HomePod, but both hold their own as a single room smart speaker.

If you are primarily going to be asking questions and listening to podcasts, the Echo is the clear winner. But if you are paying more for the better speakers because you want to listen to music, the Home is the best choice.

Best for Streaming Music

Amazon Echo

In addition to Amazon Music Unlimited and your Amazon music collection, the Echo supports Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Tunein, Deezer, Gimme Radio and SiriusXM. You can also add music streaming skills to play music stored on Plex or listen to a TED Talk.

What We Like

  • The Echo will also read Kindle and Audible books


  • The ability to stream music to the Echo via Bluetooth gives you access to anything on your smartphone or tablet.


What We Don't Like

  • Amazon is canceling the service that allows users to upload their own music.


Google Home

Google Home natively supports Google Play Music, YouTube Music, Pandora and Spotify. You can also link apps like iHeartRadio and TuneIn to your Google account and begin streaming from them via voice commands to Google Home.

What We Like

  • You can upload your personal music collection to Google Play and listen to it on Google Home.


  • You can stream anything on your smartphone or table to Google Home using Bluetooth.


What We Don't Like

  • More limited in the number of streaming apps supported natively or through linking the app to your Google account.


Our pick: Echo

The Echo supports more services natively, with even more available through Alexa skills. She can also read books to you.

Best at Shopping

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo goes hand-in-hand with the Prime membership, realizing that dream of asking your house for new light bulbs and having the automatically ordered for you. In addition to buying from Amazon, you can keep track of a shopping list in the Alexa app for when you are at the grocery store.

What We Like

  • It's easy to add items to an open cart.


  • You can order single items immediately, and Amazon remembers your preferences when you reorder.


  • If you live near a Whole Foods you may be able to order groceries for quick delivery with Alexa, depending on the location.


What We Don't Like

  • You can't remove items from your cart.


  • You can't check out for your cart, so you'll need to go to the Amazon website to complete orders with more than one item.


Google Home

Google uses Google Express as its shopping backbone. Google Express got a real shot in the arm when Walmart, Target, Frys and Costco signed deals with the service. 

What We Like

  • There's something cool about ordering from a business like Target that's right around the corner from many of us.


  • Google Express offers free shipping as you meet a nominal minimum order amount and doesn't have Amazon Prime's membership fees. 


  • Local businesses can partner with Google Express.


What We Don't Like

  • You can't track your packages using Google Home as you can with Echo.


  • It doesn't have the sheer variety of Amazon.


Our pick: Depends

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, the Echo is the easy winner. If you don't, the free shipping offered on orders of at least $25-$35 on Google Express coupled with no membership fees is a great reason to go with Google Home.

Best at Answering Questions and Performing Tasks

Amazon Echo

Amazon started behind both Apple, whose Siri digital voice assistant kicked off this race, and Google, who has spent years perfecting the ability to gather knowledge from the web. But you would never know it based on the Echo. 

What We Like

  • Alexa is always ready to give you some quick facts about cats, dogs, birds and can answer many simple questions. She's also quite funny and can tell jokes.


  • The Echo has the ability to access calendars on multiple platforms including Google Calendar and Apple's iCloud calendar.


  • 25,000+ third-party skills expand Alexa's abilities.


  • Alexa's new blueprints let you create your own skills.


What We Don't Like

  • You cannot create a shortcut for a longer command.


  • You can change Alexa's name, but you are limited to just Alexa, Amazon, Computer or Echo.


Google Home

If there is one area where Google reigns supreme, it is answering questions. Give Amazon credit, they've done a great job feeding Alexa information, but they just can't compete with Google's knowledge graph.

What We Like

  • Google Home has answers to the widest range of questions and does the best job of mining the web for information.


  • You can create a shortcut phrase for longer commands.

  • The Google Assistant will also remember the context of your questions, allowing you to easily ask followup questions. 


  • You can string two commands together. "Hey Google, play The Beatles and set the volume to 3." 


What We Don't Like

  • Limited to Google's own services in key areas such as the calendar.


  • You cannot change the wake phrase.


Our pick: Echo

The Echo takes home the overall prize for answering questions and completing tasks thanks in large part to the number of third-party skills available. And the new ability to create your own blueprints for Alexa will add to this lead. 

Best Smart Home Hub

Amazon Echo

This is another area where Amazon being the first to market really helps. The Echo is compatible with the widest variety of smart home devices, so there is a better chance that it's going to work with what you already own. You will still want to check the list of Echo compatible smart devices to make sure yours are on the list. 

What We Like

  • Schedule a routine to go off at a set time such as turning on the lights and playing your favorite radio station timed for your arrival home from work.


  • The Alexa app dives into smart home commands, allowing you to control some aspects aspects via voice or app.


What We Don't Like

  • This is another area where the ability to string together multiple commands without needing to set up a routine would be quite useful.


Google Home

Amazon's Echo may have the quantity, but there is still plenty of quality to be had among Google Home's compatible devices, including the very popular Nest products and Samsung SmartThings, which work with both the Echo and Google Home. As with the Echo, you should check the list of Home compatible smart devices before making any purchases.

What We Like

  • Google Home now supports multistep routines similar to Alexa.


  • Chromecast support casts a wider net of compatible devices and can let you 'cast' Netflix and other apps to your television.


What We Don't Like

  • You cannot schedule multistep routines to go off at a certain time.


Our pick: Echo

The key here is which device is compatible with your current smart devices, but if you are starting a smart home from scratch or your devices work with both smart speakers, the Echo will tie them together the best.

And the Winner Is...

The Amazon Echo has the widest variety of skills, a more-than-adequate speaker and ties in nicely with the Amazon Prime membership. This makes it a great choice for those who want to use their smart speaker to actually do things, and Alexa can do anything from help you shop to turning off your lights.

Google Home is quickly catching up to the Echo in terms of skills, and this is especially true in the Smart Home category. The Google Home is best for those who want a smart speaker to listen to music and do quick searches of the web at a whim.