Forget personal assistants, The real battle is for voice UIs
Stacey Higginbotham
14212

Google is going to win this battle, easily.

People always bring up the fact that the Echo has 5,000 skills. What they always fail to mention is that 99% of them are junk, almost all of them require some sort of manual configuration, and many of them require exact voice syntax to work at all.

In contrast, Google’s natural language processing and speech recognition is astoundingly smart, and is a league ahead of what I’ve experienced with the Echo.

I’ve had the Home for few weeks, and the Echo for months, and only the Home actually knows how to put my Nest thermostat in Heat.Cool mode. Better yet, I didn’t need to configure anything to get it working. I didn’t need to memorize and voice perfectly pitched syntax commands. I just needed to grant Home the permission to access my Nest. That’s it.

This experience is the same for everything Home natively supports. It just works. No configuration. No fiddling. No tweaking. Even when my request contains errors, either in syntax or semantics, the Google Assistant on Home somehow manages to figure out what I want to do, and executes it flawlessly.

For example, I’ve never configured any Podcast on the Google Home. Even so, Home has yet to fail me when I ask it to play any podcast.

This is where Home shines. It’s not the fact that it has 10000 crappy skills. It’s that the skills it supports are smarter, seamlessly integrated and more sophisticated than the 9000 skills the Echo supports. And when it comes to general knowledge, there’s no contest. Home wins. Period.

“Play Adele videos on TV.”

My TV, Nvidia Shield setup box, and surround sound speakers woke from sleep and proceeded to play an Adele Mix from YouTube. That simple command was all it took to get a bunch of Echo fanatics to order Google Home on the spot. It was magical. It was surreal. It was the future.

If Google plays its card right, and that’s a big if because Google has chronic ADHD, Google Cast may become the Home automation protocol we’ve all been waiting for.

I’m selling my Echo. Amazon showed us the way, but Google Home is the future. It’s true that Home doesn’t support all the smart devices the Echo currently supports, but if my experience with Home’s Nest and Hue native support is anything to go by, when Home eventually supports your smart device, it will do it better and smarter than what the Echo does today.

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