Thinking about buying a Google Home? Want to know if you should get this device or an Amazon Alexa device instead? Before making your purchase, check out the Google Home pros and cons listed in this article. I review the reasons why you should consider Google Home over other devices, and why you might want to wait until it supports more features.
Google Home Pros and Cons
Please note that the Google Home pros and cons listed in this review reflects the current functionality of the device, as of November 2016. Just like the Amazon Echo before it, expect more features and functionality to be added to Google Home over time. For now, check out my current assessment.
Google Home Pros
Here are some of the pros and advantages of the Google Home wireless speaker:
- Second to none in its ability to answer questions. The biggest advantage Google Home has over other voice controlled apps and devices is its ability to to provide factual responses to questions. The device leverages Google’s Knowledge Graph, a system that contains millions of facts about people, places, and things, and how all of these entities are connected. This allows Google Home to provide responses to questions far beyond the capabilities of other voice controlled apps and devices. Google Home can also understand follow up questions. For example, you can get answers to questions like, “How are the Sixers doing?” and “When is their next game?”.
- Can cast video to your TV. The second biggest advantage the Google Home has is the ability to cast video to your TV. Currently you can cast video from YouTube. Support for Netflix and other video services are expected to be added over time.
- Can cast audio to multiple devices. Using Chromecast Audio, you stream music to one or more sets of speakers in different rooms.
- Supports Google Play Music and YouTube Music. These services are not available on Alexa devices.
- Pretty good sound quality considering its size. For casual music listening, I think Google Home sounds good.
- Appears to understand my Spotify requests better than Alexa devices. In my personal experience, I’ve encountered far fewer mistakes with Home versus Alexa. Your mileage may vary.
- Aesthetic design and customizable appearance. Google Home looks like a small piece of furniture that can be customized to match your decor. The Echo looks like a speaker while the Echo Dot looks like a hockey puck.
Google Home definitely has some positive traits. But what about the negatives? Check them out below.
Google Home Cons
Here are some of the cons, limitations, and drawbacks of the Google Home:
- Supports only one Google account. multiple people in the household will not be able to inquire about the calendar, commute to work, shopping list, etc.
- Can’t read or send emails or messages. You’ll have to use your phone for that.
- Can’t create calendar events. You can inquire about calendar events but you can’t create or modify any.
- Can only recite items in our main calendar. Home doesn’t support shared or secondary calendars.
- Costs more than twice as much as the currently more capable Amazon Echo Dot. Something to consider.
- Doesn’t have an audio out port. An additional $35 Chromecast Audio purchase is required to stream to external speakers
- It’s powered by Google Assistant, which is different than Google Now. This may create some confusion for people that already make use of Google Now powered phones and tablets.
- Launch phrase not customizable. Thus, multiple devices may respond, or at least, wake up when you use the launch phrase. Also, your devices will occasionally be activated by Google TV commercials.
- I don’t like the lack of buttons on the top of the device. I find the swipe-oriented volume control to be finicky and annoying. I’d much prefer physical buttons or clearly marked capacitive buttons, and not the current, where’s Waldo button implementation.
- Doesn’t hear me from a distance as well as the Amazon Echo does. Your mileage may vary.
- Only available in the United States. Sorry UK peeps. No Home for you! (for now)
As you can see, Google Home definitely has some missing features. Should you still consider buying it? Check out my buyer’s recommendation below.
Should you Buy Google Home?
If you plan to make use of its ability to answer Knowledge Graph sourced questions, the Google Home is the best option. Google Home is likely to maintain its Knowledge Graph advantage for the foreseeable future. Over time, it will catch up to Amazon Alexa devices in terms of skills and supported services.
If today you want features that Alexa devices have that the Google Home does not, consider getting an Amazon Echo Dot. It’s so inexpensive that you won’t mind replacing it with a Google Home later.