We’ve had an Alexa in our kitchen since close to when the device launched and it’s certainly been a fun and interesting product. It’s limits however are quite clear even with as many additional skills as have been announced and delivered since it was first shipped. Amazon doesn’t really have any of my personal or our household information loaded so it’s not a very helpful agent in managing things and the shopping list is a bit of a chore to use once loaded if you aren’t actually buying on Amazon.
The more I’ve thought about it the more excited I am for the potential of Google Home. For starters, I’m a power Google Now user and believe that the suggested content and connection to my inbox will prove very powerful. Additionally, we have 5 Google Cast devices in the house and see that as a really nice extension to play content from a single point of control.
The Alexa Flash Briefing is probably the thing that gets the most use after the kitchen timers which have certainly proved helpful. That said, I can’t queue something as seemingly basic as NPR One and the Spotify integration is sorta good but not great. I have a feeling that our Play Music and YouTube preferences will likely be a solid ingredient in the Google Home mix.
The smart home potential is interesting but currently very much a work in progress on alexa and frankly something I never even consider. I have been looking at the Nest Outdoor camera as a possible home addition and have to believe that the Nest / Google integration will be tighter than a 3rd party. Some additional hands free use cases could be to adjust (turn on or off) lights while cooking based on switch control … something I was sorta hoping I could have done while peeling potatoes tonight for dinner. I’ve also got a Belkin WeMo control on a few things in the house and I could imagine having that flash the lights to get the kids attention vs shouting up the stairs like the typical suburban American family that we’ve become.
It seems that Amazon Alexa is looking at these types of integrations as well given their recent showing at CEDIA which is the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association and where all the main home control and system integrators meet to map out the year(s) ahead. While this level of home control / integration is typically pretty high end compared to the more mass DIY level it will help create some standards for how all these things might connect. Google and others will also need to get things lined up in order to compete. There’s plenty to consider in DIY-land, but that is largely a pretty geeky place. We need something semi-simple and “family-approved.” Until then it will likely just continue to be fun but not entirely practical to have poop added to my shopping list.