Assessing Your Smart Home Options
It’s almost impossible to keep track of all the technological innovations happening these days. However, one trend you’ve surely seen lately is the rise of the artificial intelligence assistant. With all the big tech companies, from Apple to Amazon, getting in on the home automation game, these are the services to look out for – and the products that’ll you’ll be putting on your wishlist at the end of the year.
Amazon Echo and Dot
For all intents and purposes, Amazon is the company responsible for first shining a light on the AI assistant bot, thanks to the success of the Amazon Echo. If you’ve been living under a rock, the Echo is a cylinder-shaped device that contains speakers and a microphone. It’s voice-activated, so all you have to say is “Alexa”–the AI assistant’s name–to trigger help with anything from playing a song to buying groceries.
Because the Echo has been out longer than its competitors, it’s received the most support, with many app developers having found ways to tie the device to their services. And, with Amazon now offering different Alexa-enabled devices, like the smaller Dot and the portable Tap, customers can use Alexa wherever they may be.
While Amazon has been in the speaker assistant game the longest, Google is not far behind by any means. The company, which started as a search engine and now does pretty much everything under the sun, has gradually turned their search engine into a personal assistant. And, not very long after Amazon released the Echo, Google put out their own device, called Google Home.
Compared to the Echo (and Amazon’s other speakers), Google Home looks a little prettier, with some friendlier fabric materials and customizability to make it look a little better on the shelf. Powered by the so-called Google Assistant, Home might not offer the same compatibility that the Amazon products do quite yet, but there’s no rivaling Google’s vast knowledge database.
The Other Guys
So far, Google and Amazon are the only two big names that have actually released voice assistant products. That doesn’t mean there aren’t rivals on the way, though. Most notably, Apple is rumored to have their own challenger to the Echo and Home, called the Siri Speaker, which is named, of course, after Apple’s voice assistant. That said, anyone who owns an Apple product, knows that Siri could do with a little improving. Microsoft, with their Cortana assistant, also has similar plans in the works.
More exciting, however, is what Samsung might have up its sleeve. While Samsung is the last company on this list to get into the virtual assistant game, it could be the one that’s most prepared. Samsung manufactures the most popular Android phone in American–the Galaxy series–but also makes dishwashers, refrigerators, and televisions, all of which could end up getting smart assistant support, which is rumored to be named Bixby. If Samsung gets its way, it could have its Bixby assistant on all future Samsung devices.
So, who do you go with? Right now, you can choose between only Google and Amazon, so you don’t have many options. And, for the near future at least, each product is mostly going to do the same things. In that case, your decision will depend on how dedicated you are to each company’s ecosystem – or on which product happens to be on sale at the moment.