Amazon Echo or Google Home with Home Assistant?

Some of you might be wondering which one should you use: Amazon Echo or Google Assistant? I’ve used them both and in this post I’ll try to give you my honest opionions of both voice assistant.

Background

As stated in the about section, I’m native Finnish speaking engineer living in Finland, therefore I’m forced to use a Nordic verison of Google Home and English language. There’s no Finnish support yet (and I doubt it won’t be available for many many years..).

I’ve used both of the Assistants, two Echos for about a year and two Google homes about 6 months now, so I got experience from both and that’s where this comparison is based on.

Originally I ordered Amazon Echos from amazon.de and Google Homes were bought from Nordic electronics store called gigantti.

Must have features

The needed features for the voices assistants for me were

  • Integration to home assistant without using the nabucasa cloud service. Don’t get me wrong, the nabucasa cloud is very easy to setup and does not break your bank, so I’m highly suggesting that. But as an engineer, I wanted to setup the system myself.
  • Must understand english (ok, all voice assistants do that of course:-))

Amazon Echo

Setting up Amazon Echo to support home assistant can be quite tricky. You need to have https enabled with your home assistant, opening route to your home assistant from AWS and configure/create new amazon skill with your HA instance.

However, once you manage to integrate Echo into Home Assistant, it works pretty well. Only setback that I found was that when ever I commanded Echo to discover devices again, it lost all the custom commands for existing devices.

Also noticed that Alexa does not understand my English as good as Google Home. For example, saying “Alexa, clean the kitchen” is usually interpreted as “Play the kitchen”.

Techincal details: script to open required ports on Ubiquiti EdgeOS router for AWS can be found from my github project

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Required AWS IP-addresses can be directly received from Amazon in json format
  • I like the launch command ‘Alexa’

Cons

  • Loses all custom commands when rediscovering devices
  • Quite difficult to setup
  • No Echo versions with display available in Finland

Google Home

Compared to Amazon Echo, the Google Home setup was much easier. Of course you also need to do same configurations: setup https, create the google smart home skill and open the routes to home assistant. However, Google uses basically just three IP address ranges, but they do not provide those anywhere. Little googling and experimenting eventually worked fine.

Again once the setup is complete, everything worked very good. One thing was noticed though, if phone language is set something else that Google Home supported language, custom routines could not be made. No problem for me though, since I’m using my phone with English.

Techinal details: IP ranges required for Google Assistant are 108.177.0.0/17, 66.102.0.0/20, 66.249.80.0/20

Pros

  • Easier to setup than Echo
  • Affordable
  • Also Google Home version with display available in Finland
  • Seems to understand my English some what better than Echo

Cons

  • I hate the command ‘OK/Hey Google’
  • IP Addresses from Google can change at any time, since Google does not give those out officially
  • Phone Language needs to be setup as English (or another supported language) in order to custom routines to work

Conclusion

So, I’ve been using Amazon Echo for year and Google Home for 6 months now, and for my point of view, it seems that the clear winner here is the Google Home.

Even though the setup with Amazon was more difficult, it had to be done only once. But since Echo lost all the devices on every re-discovery, it basically was a show stopper for me. I needed to set custom commands to command my Roborock S50 to clean specific rooms and every time I installed or configured devices with HA, those commands were lost and had to be created again.

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