India’s is often a neglected market for high-end and innovative consumer tech products. But gradually this is changing. Many of the latest consumer tech products are available in India after a few months of global launch. But for one of the hottest and fast-growing consumer product ‘smart speakers’, it is quite a delayed launch in India. Amazon Echo was launched in November 214 and Google Home was launched in US in November 2016. Both of these smart speakers were not available officially in India till 2017.
Now, suddenly things have changed. Both Google Home and Amazon Echo are available in India and soon we may have Apple Homepod making an entry.
Now if you are looking to get your first smart speaker here in India, here are a few things that can help you in making an informed choice.
- Not for audiophiles: First of all, if you are an audiophile, love your music pristine and high quality, these speakers are not meant for you. But these are good enough for most of the casual listeners and music lovers.
- Unlimited music streaming: Both the speakers Google Home and Amazon Echo, have their in-house music streaming service: Google Music and Amazon Music. But both of these do not match the music collection of Saavn, which is available for both the speakers. Although for an ad-free music streaming experience you need to shell out 100-150 per month for these services. Amazon Music is available free for Amazon Prime members (Amazon speakers come with one year free Amazon Prime subscription).
- Google Home is much more conversational and easy to converse with: Google Home beats Amazon Echo in its conversational ease. It leverages Google’s ecosystem and all the data Google has on you to provide you more relevant and accurate responses. You can get traffic details, weather, your google calendar integration etc. Amazon Echo does most of these things but Google Home is way ahead. Both of these are quite good at handling our Indian accent but initially, you may have to struggle a bit. But this should improve as both these companies are focusing on the Indian market.
- Sound Quality: Out of all the smart speakers launched so far the best sounding smart speakers are Google Max and Apple Homepod. You can toss a coin to select one if you are bothered about which ecosystem (Google Vs Apple) you want to step in. But both of these are not yet launched. Out of all the versions that are available in India, Amazon Echo Plus sounds best. Google Home is decent but both Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Plus have superior sound quality.
- Smart Home Capabilities: Both of these have quite advanced capabilities for interacting with our smart home devices (lights, air-conditioners, cctvs, streaming devices, smart tvs etc). But Amazon Echo Plus has an inbuilt hub for connecting many smart devices and Google Home does not have a hub. If you are relying on IFTT (www.iftt.com) for your automation, then you can read this article to know more about how these devices support IFTT.
- Privacy Concerns: If you are concerned about privacy, my take is to go with Apple Homepod. Google is in data business and thrives on getting as much data as possible. Amazon data practices are not that great either. The only company that has a relatively better policy on privacy and willing to go an extra mile to save your data is Apple. However, you can see these links ( https://www.wired.com/story/amazon-echo-and-google-home-voice-data-delete/, https://fieldguide.gizmodo.com/how-to-lock-down-your-privacy-on-the-amazon-echo-and-go-1794697554,) for more information on how to safeguard your privacy while using these smart speakers.