Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa and Cortana are all trying to win the right to be the fly on your wall. Google just does it better.
There is one fundamental non-negotiable in creating an efficient and effective Smart Home, and that is the digital assistant. Think about it.
You plan your smart home solution. You choose the smart home hub you are going to use and then you begin to buy hardware – lights, locks, switches etc. You install the hardware around your house and you make sure your new, or existing digital assistant is integrated with it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a Samsung SmartThings, abode security system or you plan on using the smart home hub abilities built into your Apple TV or Amazon echo Plus (with Zigbee) for example. The main thing is there is a central place where your devices can be controlled from.
If your devices are separated and need to be controlled from separate devices, apps and assistants then I think you’ve already made a headache for yourself.
Anyway, I digress. There are 2 main ways to control your smart home. Those are:
- With your voice using a smart assistant – e.g google nest, Amazon echo.
- With apps on your phone or tablet – e,g Alexa, apple home, google home.
You can, of course, schedule things with IFTTT, or even within the smart home hub itself but this only creates a fixed and inflexible arrangement which only gets you halfway to smart home utopia.
Let’s consider the second option. Controlling your smart home with your smartphone and apps.
This works fine. It does. You can sit on the couch or whip out your phone to turn on the lounge light, change the thermostat or lock a smart lock on a door in the garage. Maybe you even use a tablet to do it.
Personally, this is great for home controls when you are NOT home. The ability to change the thermostat before you head home from work or open a garage door as you arrive home is great. BUT, this is NOT the point I am trying to drive home here.
The point, finally, is that to have an amazing Smart Home experience you need to have an amazing integration with a smart digital voice assistant. And this, my readers, is where Google wins, hands down.
The question is, why are they not winning the smart home race?
To make a smart home feel like a smart home it has to do a few things really well. Otherwise, it’s just like controlling your home with another remote control (your smartphone).
It has to:
- Be effortless. Speak to the air and your commands will be done.
- Be frictionless. You want to be heard and understood.
- Be efficient. You don’t want to have to say things like ‘Open this skill’ to action a command like ‘Close the garage door’.
We have had Amazon Alex and Google Home ) and Apple TV (HomeKit) in the house for well over 2 years, closer to 3 and there is one clear winner in the ‘understand me and answer correctly’ battle. That is Google Assistant.
Once integrated, all the smart home devices (she also integrates with my abode home security hub so all things talk to each other) can be controlled without needing to invoke an additional command.
My tailwind garage door opener can be controlled with ‘Hey Google, open the garage’. With Alexa it’s ‘Alexa, open tailwind’….wait, then ‘Open the garage’.
Here is why Google wins are the best Smart Home assistant:
She listens well. Alexa’s microphones are not necessarily better or worse but on the whole, Google deciphers poor audio quality better.
She understands. Google Assistant has incredible accuracy with answers and comprehension. While Alexa and Siri can often hear the question, they don’t know how to answer it.
In addition to this, the release of Google Duplex continues to show the rate at which Google is advancing it’s smart assistant features.
My proposition to you is this: without a fluid smart assistant to interact with, the smart home (and smart assistant) market will continue to frustrate and suppress the opportunities that exist to live like Tony Stark in an Ironman-esk home situation.
I don’t need Google to book my hair appointment, but right now she at least gives me the right answers to questions and controls my smart home when I ask her. She doesn’t frustrate me nearly as much as her peers.
Surely that is the fundamentally most important role of a smart assistant in the home to play. To do what I ask of it?
Thoughts? Put them here