In this blog post, I’d be reviewing the Echo Dot and talking about Home Mini’s initial impression.
I purchased the 2nd Generation Echo Dot last year in November from US, and after receiving it was ecstatic to try it out. Unfortunately, Amazon was stringent enough to actually ensure that only the countries in which the Echo devices were officially launched would be able to download their App. I still got my hands on the app in a couple of days, but won’t be covering how in this post. Amusingly, now that Amazon has started with pre orders in India, the Alexa App is still not available to Indian users.
Surprisingly, Google on the other hand has already made it’s Google Home app available to everyone, even though the country availability as of now for the Home devices is – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, United States (except Puerto Rico).
The inital procedure of setting up Alexa is pretty straight forward – Power on the Echo Dot, navigate to the Alexa App, Select Setup a New Device, Connect your Dot to the WiFi, follow the rest of the steps and you’re done. A very standard procedure for any smart device.
Google Home on the other hand asks you to turn on your Location Services, which I found a bit weird, but because it’s Google, pretty sure there might be a reason for it. Only time (when I get my hands on a Home Mini) will tell.
COMPANION APP REVIEW
Alex’s Companion App seems to offer more features/options for the User to explore with respect to the Home’s Companion App. A quick glance of the Navigation Drawer (by clicking on the 3 horizontal lines on top left side), shows what all options can a User choose from (L-R, Alexa’s Options and Google Home’s Options):
Obviously Google as of now lacks what Alexa is known for – it’s Skills. The vast library of skills ensures one can teach their Echo Dot a lot of stuff like Remote starting your vehicle, Find your Phone, Create your own commands using IFTTT, and the common ones like – Controlling your Smart Home appliances, catching a ride via Uber or Lyft and so on.
One can even create their own skill by referring to their Website or attending one of the Alexa Days events happening nearby. For India that’s in Bangalore (Nov 8 -9) & Delhi (Nov 14-15) for now. You can register for those from here
Coming to the Music & Video player capabilities, the best part I loved about Google is the option to choose from the applications one already has pre installed on their devices for their Music & Video needs. Home supports playing music from Indian applications like Wynk and Saavn, and video from Netflix!
Till now, these are the only features common to both the applications, with Google probably working on more things for the future. Amazon on the other hand, has went all the way and provided features like chatting and calling other Alexa users, and giving Shopping notifications via Alexa.
I’ve heard Google Home also supports receiving calls from external numbers, but not calling back, so let’s see how they expand on that.
What do you think? How many of you will be purchasing the Amazon’s Echo Dot or will prefer to wait for the Google Home Mini to arrive? Let me know in the comments!
Rishabh is an Intel Software Innovator and Senior Software Engineer at Ericsson. While not at work, he loves to review restaurants, get acquainted with new technology, and visit new places.