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Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: A DIY perspective

Amazon and Google have been at each other’s throats with their personal assistants. The recently released third-generation Amazon Echo Dot caught up on the slightly older Google Home Mini.

The second gen Echo Dot was no competition to the Google Home Mini as far as aesthetics, and speaker quality was considered. As far as the virtual assistants go, it boils down to personal preference.

There are exclusives to both Alexa and Google Assistant. Google, however, being in the industry since the early days of the internet has quite a headstart on Amazon’s Alexa. In everyday use though, you won’t even notice much of a difference.

Hence, choosing one of these speakers is basically personal preference. There are tons of comparisons about these speakers, each with its own conclusion.

In this article, we put these two assistants head to head in the DIY space to see which one works out best shall you decide to tinker with your imagination and create something with these toys.

Also read: Alexa! How safe am I? A look at the dark side of smart tech

Google Home Mini

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The Google Home Mini is a nifty little speaker loaded with the Google Assistant. This means near seamless integration with Android devices, chromecasts, and a wide range of smart home appliances.

During my experiment using the Google Home Mini for home automation, I used a service called IFTTT (If This Then That). What this does is essentially allows you to do almost anything with your Google Assistant.

Bonus points here for working with Google Assistant. This means that you don’t necessarily need the speaker to work with this –an android phone will do.

Using Blink on the microcontroller side of things and webhooks on IFTTT, I was able to set up a pretty reliable home automation system within minutes.

The only downside to this is that when using IFTTT, the data sent/transmitted covers about 2-3 continents. This means a slightly higher latency on slower connections.

Also read: 3 ways Google Assistant can help protect your home

Amazon Echo Dot

Google Home Mini vs Amazon Echo Dot: A DIY perspective

Amazon has a different approach. In order to be able to use a microcontroller with the Echo Dot, you have to program it so that it gets detected as a WeMos smart home device.

While the coding might seem a little intimidating at the start, it is quite simple. There are a lot of repositories on GitHub with scripts like this, and most of them work pretty well.

Sure it’s a little bit of added work, but it’s slightly faster than the Google Home Mini approach in terms of latency.

The added complexity because of the coding also makes it a little bit more unreliable and at times harder to debug in case of a malfunction.

Which one should you choose?

While both the devices have their own pros and cons, the choice here comes down to the end product you’re trying to get from them.

The Google Home Mini approach is easy to set up, easy to diagnose and doesn’t even need a smart speaker. Using IFTTT, you can get creative with the voice triggers and might end up making something really cool.

The Echo Dot approach, while a little bit difficult, allows you to manage a larger number of smart appliances more easily. The grouping options in Echo Dot make it easy to control multiple lights together. You will, however, have to stick to the same default voice triggers.

At the end of the day, both are different devices functioning on different protocols. The differences will be there, but the choice will almost always come down to personal preference and the expected end product.

Also read: Can the Anki Vector robot assistant feel real emotions?

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