Control Your Home With Voice Recognition

Voice assistants can control many smart home devices. So much that when Amazon’s Echo came to market in 2014, voice recognition entered the mainstream and it continues to gain traction today.

From turning off the lights through opening the door, you can control just about any appliance and device in your smart home hands-free with today’s smart speakers that come enabled with voice assistant.

Amazon keeps expanding the Echo smart speaker range at the same time Alexa keeps getting better. As a digital assistant, she’s hard to beat.

Apple, too, is challenging Amazon for supremacy in this vertical so competition is healthy which can only be good for the consumer.

We’ll start today by giving you an overview of Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod then we’ll contrast these 3 giants across many categories.

We’ll also look at a couple of other strong options if you’re looking to control your home with voice recognition.

3 Ways To Control Your Home With Voice a Voice Assistant: Amazon, Google, Apple

1) Amazon Echo

Black amazon echo

The pioneer of voice-activated smart speakers and still a consistent best seller; the 2nd generation Echo is always a great way to control your home with voice recognition.

With uprated fabric and wood finishes, you’ll get a compact smart speaker that looks great but won’t let you down on the performance front.

While the speaker itself might not be strong enough to act as your primary listening device, the sound quality is impressive. Take control of your music streaming using voice commands and press Alexa into commission for far more besides from helping you with to do lists through ordering an Uber.

The intelligence of Alexa means she’ll become accustomed to your speech patterns and behavior so your experience just keeps improving.

If you’ve got other compatible smart devices in your home, you’ll be able to control thermostats, lights, garage doors and sprinklers using voice commands and your favorite digital butler.

For a cost-effective and thoroughly tested method of controlling your home with voice recognition, Amazon Echo is still hard to beat.

Pros

  • Alexa can hear you from all angles thanks to 7 mics, noise cancellation, and far-field recognition
  • Make hands-free calls to other Echo devices
  • Adapts to your speech patterns and behavior to keep making your life easier

Cons

  • Alexa app still has room for improvement

2) Google Home

Synch google home with just about any device,

Google Home offers the hard-hitting Google Assistant so you can use your voice to control many areas of your smart home.

You’ll be able to control lights, switches and other appliances using voice commands. Integrating with Chromecast, you’ll be able to stream a variety of media using just your voice.

Beyond this, you can get assistance with your scheduling and household admin through to weather or traffic reports.

On the audio front, you’ll get a surprisingly deep and smooth sound for such a compact speaker.

The clean design of this scaled-down speaker and customizable nature means it slots neatly into both traditional and contemporary rooms.

While you’ll dip out on Amazon Prime and you might feel third-party support is somewhat lacking, Google Home is a smart bet to consider if you’re looking to control your home with voice recognition.

Pros

  • Always-on and responsive to your voice as soon as you say “OK Google.”
  • Google Assistant is arguably superior to Alexa and Siri in being able to respond to any conversational commands for a smooth and very natural experience
  • Customizable shells so you can get something to fit with your decor

Cons

  • Third-party support could be improved

3) Apple HomePod

Making use of Siri, Apple’s HomePod is indeed not the cheapest voice assistant, but you’ll get a smart home hub, digital butler and outstanding speaker rolled into one.

When you’re looking to control your home with voice recognition much depends on the systems you’re already invested in, from your smartphone through to your smart home appliances and devices. If you’re committed to Apple, taking charge of your music library using Siri is one way to make full use of the diminutive but the bass-rich speaker that looks the part and delivers fully regarding performance.

With 6 mics, you’ll have no problem engaging Siri’s attention even if the room is noisy and you’re on the other side of the room. What you say is encrypted and sent to servers at Apple without being linked to your Apple ID.

As with all Apple devices, the HomePod is not cheap so only you can decide whether you feel it represents value for money.

Pros

  • Siri is much improved and can pick out your voice even from across the room with music playing
  • Educate HomePod about your musical preferences, and it can start to make suggestions
  • You can sync multiple HomePods throughout the house for a fully immersive and effective sound

Cons

  • Considerably more expensive than the completion so decide whether you feel it’s worth paying a premium for brand heritage

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home vs. Apple Home Pod

We’ll look now at how devices from the big three stack up across a few significant categories.

Think of this as a general overview and the chance to examine which voice assistant would best fit you and your smart home. It’s not a case of a right or wrong answer, simply what works for you.

Software

When you’re looking at smart speakers to control your home with voice recognition, you’ll have the choice between Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.

For Android users, Google Assistant makes sense while for Apple fans it’s Siri all the way. For anyone not committed, Alexa is arguably the best option with the ability to use Amazon Prime.

As with all aspects of controlling your home with voice recognition, be clear about you want and need so you get the right kit first time.

Hardware

Smart speakers come in a range of configurations.

With Echo, you’ll get the flagship model along with Echo Dot, Echo Spot, Echo Show, and Echo Plus.

Google offers the Home along with Home Max and Home Mini if you’re looking for something bigger or smaller.

There’s no choice with Apple. It’s HomePod or HomePod!

Think about whether your primary focus is controlling your smart home with your voice or using the speaker for listening to music. While something tiny like Echo Dot is exceptionally convenient, it’s no replacement for your stereo. HomePod, on the other hand, acquits itself admirably as a stand-alone speaker.

Features

On the intelligence front, interacting with Google Assistant perhaps feel most natural. Bringing to bear all the information at their fingertips, Google Home has sharp search abilities.

Siri’s comprehension is more limited rendering HomePod more of a pure speaker than the most effective way to control your home with voice recognition.

When it comes to music playback, these 3 devices are each linked up to the manufacturer’s services. Echo gives you Amazon Music, Google Home uses Google Play while HomePod syncs with Apple Music. With HomePod, though, you’ll find your choice limited solely to Apple Music.

If your primary reason for purchasing a smart speaker is to control your home with voice recognition, with Echo Plus you get an integrated Zigbee hub and wide-ranging compatibility. Google Home works with a broad spread of devices and appliances while with Apple’s HomePod you’ll need HomeKit.

Sound Quality

While some of the Amazon Echo devices are stronger performers than others, overall sound quality can’t compare to Google Home or Apple HomePod. On a budget, though, Echo still delivers crisp sound in its 2nd iteration.

Google Home is bass-heavy with Home Max giving even more volume than Apple’s HomePod.

HomePod serves up a 360-degree soundscape with impressive clarity.

Privacy

The way in which Google and Amazon collect and use your data certainly improves and sharpens your experience with voice recognition but raises some concerns about privacy.

With Siri, data is randomized and encrypted and isn’t even linked to your Apple account.

If you’re prepared to dip out on the intelligence for the sake of security, HomePod is your best bet.

Multiple Users

With Google Home and Amazon Echo, you’ll be able to create multiple users which means you’ll get no calendar confusion when you ask for digital assistance.

As usual, Apple locks you in so you’ll be tied to a single iCloud account and there’s no support for multiple users.

The Verdict

We’re not evasive when we say there’s no standout winner here between the big three if you’re looking to control your home with voice recognition.

You’ll need to think long and hard not just about the smart devices and appliances you have now but those you might build into your system in the future.

The 2nd generation Echo boasts an unbeatable price to performance ratio with all the diversity of Alexa and her 30,000 skills that just keep growing.

Google Home gives you the super-flexible Google Assistant and all the benefits of the vast Google ecosystem.

While with Apple’s HomePod you get an undeniably great speaker, if your main goal is controlling your smart home with voice commands, it’s a weaker choice for many.

So take plenty of time analyzing your needs before jumping in, and it should soon be clear which of these smart speakers if any, deserves a place on your shortlist.

If you’re still not convinced, you could consider Insteon or Samsung instead…

Other Ways To Control Your Home With Voice RecognitionInsteon Hub

Insteon Hub Pro

If you want to take charge of Insteon and HomeKit devices from your smartphone and use Siri to control your Apple smart home ecosystem using your voice, the Hub Pro is another Insteon classic.

Although you will need a wired connection, the device is small enough to fit wherever it’s most convenient.

You can control your lights from your iPhone and control a range of devices at the same time by creating scenes.

This unit is only compatible with iOS devices so if you’re an Android user; this is not for you.

You’ll also need Insteon or HomeKit smart devices so you will find your choice is slightly limited with SmartThings and Nest off-limits.

Assuming you’re an Apple convert and you want an easy and effective way to control your home with voice recognition, the Hub Pro is a must.

Pros

  • You do need a connection to your router, but the hub itself is compact and easy to slot in just about anywhere
  • Mesh network highly dependable and gives you the enhanced range
  • Control your full HomeKit ecosystem and use a single voice command to trigger a series of actions

Cons

  • Insteon can be painfully slow to roll out Apple updates

Samsung SmartThings

If you want the flexibility of using either Apple or Android and you fancy a super-simple set-up with no wiring or any installation required, the SmartThings hub can be used to control a full spread of compatible devices.

For voice recognition, you can use either Alexa or Google Assistant, so you’ve got a hub adaptable enough for all the family.

You’ll be able to program devices to behave accordingly whether you want your lights to come on or your doors to close behind you and the routines make things even simpler for you.

SmartThings is compatible with both Zigbee and Z-Wave devices as well as IP-connected devices, and you’ll be able to control brands from Honeywell and Yale through D-Link and Bose, so you’ve got a hub robust enough for most smart homes.

If you’re looking for flexibility, compatibility and the chance to control your home with voice recognition, Samsung’s SmartThings hub makes perfect sense.

Pros

  • Take full control of connected devices within your smart home using either iOS or Android
  • Set up routines to help you streamline your mornings and bedtimes with voice commands
  • Works with both Alexa and Google Home so a very versatile option

Cons

  • Pairing can be a tiresome procedure

Is It Essential to Use a Smart Speaker To Control Your Home With Voice Recognition?

In a word, no.

It’s true that you’d typically associate voice recognition to control your home with a smart speaker like Google Home or Amazon Echo, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

With these smart speakers, your voice is sent to the cloud for processing, and then a control signal is passed back to the home device.

Local voice control means there’s no requirement for the command to be sent to the cloud using WiFi. Instead, it makes its way from microphone to gateway and then onto the home device in question.

Since the signal does not need WiFi, you’ll enjoy a very secure operating environment for your smart home.

There are drawbacks to local voice control systems, though. You won’t get the same voice processing power you’d get on the cloud. You’ll also run into potential problems with storage space.

Many companies are now producing products offering you the best of both worlds. As always, smart home technology continues to evolve quickly.

Beyond Voice Control: Automation

While controlling your smart home devices from your smartphone or using voice commands is convenient, automation takes things blissfully out of hands.

By automating processes, you can save energy while also making your life much more convenient. You won’t need to leave the heating on all day to come home to a warm house and light will switch off in unoccupied rooms.

You’ve got three main approaches at your disposal with automation:

  • Geofencing: With geofencing, you can ensure certain smart home devices turn on and off or perform another action based on your movements through the GPS on your smartphone. Whether you want the thermostat to regulate the temperature for when you get home from work or the lights to go off as you leave in the morning, make things easy on yourself
  • Scheduling: If you don’t want to use GPS, merely schedule lights and thermostats to go on and off at certain times throughout the day. While scheduling can be pretty convenient, it’s also reasonably inflexible unless you’re a creature of habit
  • Sensors: If you want to invest a little more, you can use motion sensors to trigger actions on connected devices

Final Word

Since Echo stormed on the scene in late 2014 introducing the inimitable Alexa, Amazon has continued to dominate smart home voice control. There are many devices that synch with voice assistants such as the water leak detectors, smart lights, and much more. 

Now, though, both Apple and Google are offering worthy alternatives if you want to control your home with voice recognition.

With local voice systems available too, there’s no excuse at all not to get involved with whatever makes the neatest fit with your smart home. Learn more about voice recognition at the smart home blog