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Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Which Voice Controlled Speaker Is Best for You?
Follow the instructions below to try the Cloud Speech API, which recognizes your voice speech and converts it into text. Retrieved October 5, Launching calls, texts, and email is one of voice commands' most common actions. One of the major changes was replacing the classic navigation bar with a black one. Google Now can even remember where you parked you car. How to update, best new features and more. The global village that was once the internet

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Bonus points for the Home: Say the word, and you can watch your favorite show on Netflix or pull up a video on YouTube. Soon, you'll be able to use your voice to watch shows from a bunch of other streaming sources, including Hulu and HBO Now. Just like with music, you can pause, rewind and fast-forward streaming video with your voice. That said, you can't yet fully control any TV with Google Home. You won't be able to turn your TV off with a voice command, for instance.

Home's built-in speaker plays music well enough for me, but the sound quality didn't satisfy our audiophiles. Alexa -- the assistant built into the Echo -- integrates with Fire TV , but you need to press a button on a specific Fire TV remote, so the always-listening Echo can't help you with your TV yet through first-party support. An upcoming Element TV has Alexa built-in, but again, you'll need to press a button on the remote to give a voice command.

Both the Echo and the Google Home can do more with your TV if you have a Logitech Harmony setup , and the Echo also works with universal remotes from dealer-installed setups like Control4. One other big advantage for Home? You can group multiple speakers to play one song simultaneously in multiple rooms of your house. The Echo still can't do that. Both the Home and the Echo play games, tell jokes, and respond wittily to movie lines such as, "I am your father.

And Alexa's version of Jeopardy is also much better than Home's simplistic and over-the-top trivia. Still, I'm giving this category to the Home because extras aside, the Home's ability to group your speakers and cheaply control your TV makes it wonderfully useful as a whole home entertainer. Since Google Home learns more about you through a variety of Google services -- such as Google Calendar and Google Maps -- it should have been able to easily beat the Echo in this category from the beginning.

However, the Echo managed to take this duel in round 1, thanks in large part to its breadth of abilities. Still, the Home uses the Google Assistant Google's aptly named digital assistant built into the Home and Android phones like the Pixel -- and now available on iPhones to respond to voice commands conversationally, something Google was eager to demonstrate when the Google Home made its initial debut back in May Then, you can follow that question with "What other movies is he in?

Surprisingly, the Echo kept up with the Home on this front. We asked Alexa to tell us the weather. Then, we asked, "How about Friday? The Google Assistant understands a little more context than Alexa, but not by much.

The Echo also lets you set reminders and make to-do lists, and the Google Home still falls short at a few of those sorts of basic tasks. It doesn't, for instance, let you change anything on your calendar yet. That should change soon. You'll even be able to see personalized results to your questions as Google recently added support for multiple users up to a maximum of six , making it a much better personal assistant for the whole family.

Your family members can each spend a few minutes training Google to recognize their voices. Once they do, Google should do a pretty good job of telling you all apart , provided you don't sound too similar.

From there, if you each ask it for traffic info or a calendar update, the Home will customize its responses depending on which one of you is asking. The Echo can't do anything like that. Both Amazon and Google are making a play for the kitchen and both devices work with the Anova connected sous vide cooker.

But here Google goes a step further again, as the company just announced the ability to search for more than 5 million recipes on your phone, then send them to the Home for step-by-step directions.

Both companies also want to replace your home phone with their respective speakers. The Echo lets you call other Echo devices. In theory, you should be able to tell Cortana "Stop [the name of the band or song]", but Cortana interpreted that command as a new Web search. So what happens when you ask to see a song you don't own? Siri tells you it isn't in your library, but Google Now and Cortana at least provide links so you can play it yourself online.

Google's search result lists the YouTube video first; Cortana serves up Last. There are a few instances when you and Cortana can take turns to whittle down a search. Right now it works when you search for a business or look up the weather. For example, "Show me the weather," followed by "What's it like on Thursday?

Google's voice action and Siri do this as well. What is unique to Cortana being able to follow up on questions related to looking up businesses. Cortana alone remains contextually aware around this search, which lets you continue to request anything from distance show me the ones within five miles , star ratings, even commands to call a business on the list or find out more about it. For example, you can say: Microsoft bills Cortana as a cheeky monkey, sassier even than Siri.

I'm not so sure of that. It really depends on what you ask. We had a lot of fun passing Cortana around the office to see what "she" would say. Cortana will toss back a few witty remarks when you ask questions about the story of Halo, if she loves you, what she's wearing a phone!

She also has a ready retort for questions about Siri and for questions about when she was born -- but not about where. Cortana will sing you song actually, it's only a few lines long and it's kind of creepy and tell you a joke it did make me chuckle.

Cortana will respond to your gratitude "You're awesome. So far, so good. However, when Cortana is finished amusing you, show's over. Your next comment will launch a new search. Siri, however, will play ball for awhile longer, allowing you to stretch out some semblance of a back-and-forth conversation.

Like Cortana, Siri is just pulling from a database of ready-made responses, but the exchange hangs together. Here's what happened when I riffed the script with Cortana:. Google is the most staid of the three, by a long shot, and that's simply because Google hasn't chosen to anthropomorphize its search app.

Tell Google Now it's awesome and it just creates a new Web search. In addition to catching up to Siri and Google Now, Microsoft also wants to carve out its own style. Most of this takes place in the voice app's settings menu, called Cortana's Notebook. Here you set your interests, look at reminders, name places you visit most often, and reference music searches.

Quiet Hours is where you can set a no-call and no-texting zone, like when you're in a meeting or catching up on some Z's. To designate an exception to the Quiet Hours rule, nip into the Inner Circle setting. This is also where you establish relationships, e.

Cortana also gives you somewhat of a newsfeed. Even when Cortana is idle, you can swipe down to see suggestions for locations, headlines, the weather, and other items that Cortana thinks you might like -- this is based on your searches and also on interests you've set up.

Google will also preemptively give you location cards, but iOS's Siri keeps it simple with just its electronic ears. All told, Cortana kept pace with the more established voice assistants, both in terms of its abilities and in executing tasks correctly. Although not every command I tried worked perfectly well for any of the programs, Cortana, like Siri and Google Now, never crashed.

For the most part, Cortana understood my commands and complied, though again, like the others , it struggled in noisier environments and couldn't always filter out cross-talk. Ideally, voice assistants should act quicker than typing, and that's often the case when Cortana understands you the first time. In some instances, though, it would have been faster to manually perform a task than to repeat a similar request -- this goes for Siri and Google voice actions as well. There's still much to explore with Cortana, especially after its understanding of casual language and accents grows as more people use it.

If you have a password, a dialog will appear asking for the pre-shared key This is just a fancy way of saying password and is borrowed from the Wi-Fi security standards. Pre-shared just means the password was given to you before you attempted to connect. Enter your password here and click OK. Watch the Wi-Fi icon you just clicked on to bring up the menu. It should begin flashing.

Once it's gone solid, you are connected. It will look something like In this case, the wlan part stands for Wireless Local Area Network and the 0 means it's the first device Linux identified. In this case, we want the IP address assigned to the wlan0 device, which is why we looked for it in the tooltip.

SSH allows you to do so from a separate computer. If you're not familiar with a terminal, download and install the Chrome browser and Secure Shell Extension , and proceed to the next step. Click that icon and then select Connection Dialog in the menu that appears. In the top field, type pi After typing this in, click on the port field. You can do this by right clicking on the icon in your toolbar and selecting Remove, then re-add it by following the instructions above.

At this point, the SSH extension has connected to your Raspberry Pi and is asking you to verify that the host key The SSH extension is designed to be secure, and because of this goal, it needs to identify that the computer you're trying to connect to is actually the computer you expect. To make this job easier, the computers generate a long number and present it to the extension for verification each time.

The extension saves this key somewhere safe so that it can verify that the computer you're speaking to is actually the right one. Since this is the first time your Raspberry Pi has been turned on, the data listed above this prompt is brand new, and it's safe to continue.

When you answer yes here, the SSH extension will save this information to your browser and verify it is correct every time you reconnect to your Raspberry Pi. The default, case-sensitive password is raspberry. Copy paste in Secure Shell Extension Copying and pasting in the Secure Shell Extension is a little different than other applications you may be used to.

To copy some text, highlight what you want by clicking and dragging with the left mouse button, and as soon as you let go of it, it'll copy it. To paste, click the right mouse button. On a touchpad this can be a little tricky, so try tapping or pressing in the lower right of the touchpad, or tapping with two fingers.

If so, type y and press enter. It will then ask you to press enter to record some audio and play it back. Do so, and it will ask if you heard your own voice. Go ahead and press the enter key to return to the shell prompt. Check to make sure that your speakers are connected to the right terminals. Type the following command into your prompt and press enter:. This starts the volume control program, as shown in the picture to the left.

Use the up and down arrows on your keyboard to adjust the volume. Press the Esc key to exit the program. Quick tip Press the up arrow key at the prompt to scroll through a history of commands you've run. You can edit the command if needed, then press enter. On your computer not the Raspberry Pi , go to https: Sign up for one here.

Welcome to the Cloud Platform. This is the control panel where you can configure your applications to make use of Google's developer APIs. From the top bar, click Select a project. Enter a project name into the bar and click Create.

You can leave the Location option alone. Now that we've created the project, we need to select it so we can turn on the APIs we want to use. From the overview click Select a project again. Then select the project you just created and click Open. This opens the dashboard view for your project you can tell by the dropdown at the top of the screen; it should display the name you chose in the previous step.

It's kinda like using an ice cream maker; you put things in and get a delicious result back! If the left navigation is not already visible, click on the three-line menu icon at the top left of the page to open it. This turns on the Google Assistant API for your project, and gives applications you write access to its features. From here you can get more details on how you're using the API and see how many requests you're making.

In the "Where will you be calling the API from? Finally, under "What data will you be accessing? This will generate the credentials in Google's servers and prepare the APIs for use.

Click Download which will download a. In this case, this data contains information that the demo scripts will present to Google's servers to identify them, but they can contain any kind of data. This command starts the nano text editor so we can paste the contents of the JSON file we downloaded earlier into a file on disk.

A prompt appears to verify the file name you already specified: Type Ctrl-G to find out more. Type ls ls is shorthand for LiSt and prints out all of the files in the current working directory.

It's a great way to look around and see what changed on disk. This shows you all of the files in your current directory. You should see assistant. Think of it as clicking through file folders. You should see the path in the command line in blue.

Practice using cd and ls to navigate around! Python is a programming language that we use for the majority of our demos and scripts. It's a simple language and is very easy to learn. You can find out more about Python at https: Now that you've changed directories You might have heard the terms "folder" or "directory" before.

They are synonyms for the same thing: Think of them like a table of contents: Learn more about working in the terminal Check out some guides from our friends at the Raspberry Pi Foundation: Conquer the Command Line and Linux Commands. Copy and paste the link you see in the terminal into your browser.

Left click to select and copy in the the terminal. The demo application makes use of the Google Assistant. Because of this, it the Assistant needs to access your Google account's data safely. To do this, you have to authorize it by going to the URL it printed out and giving it an authorization code. This is the authorization code that the script needs.

Copy it and paste it into the Secure Shell Extension. You may have to press enter after you paste. Note On a Mac or Windows, highlight the code in the text field and copy it. To paste in the Secure Shell Extension, simply right click.

This can be a little tricky on a touchpad. Try tapping or clicking in the lower right of the touchpad, or tapping with two fingers. Download the Google Assistant app on a device this can be your smartphone or tablet, and is available for both Android and iOS devices and run it. Try speaking from a little further back. Once you see the prompt to R econnect, C hoose another connection, or E x it?

Remember when you reconnect your power supply to wait until the LED stops blinking before reconnecting your kit via SSH. Important The demo will stop working if you close the Secure Shell Extension or unplug your kit. To reconnect to your kit, plug it back into the power supply and wait for it to boot up about 4 minutes. Below are some options to change the device behavior and suggestions for extensions if you want to hack further. Alternately, the project source is available on GitHub: Please see the table below for a list of modules available for developer use.

An activation trigger is a condition in the code that starts a conversation with the Google Assistant. The assistant demo from above uses a press on the top button as the activation trigger, but you can implement different triggers.

For example, you can use a motion detector not included as your activation trigger as shown here:. Sometimes, we also want to use an external trigger to start a conversation with the Google Assistant. This section shows how to start a conversation with a button press. It is little trickier because of the way the assistant library works. If you are new to programming, you may skip the "Design" section and jump to the "Implementation" subsection.

Each python app has a main thread, which executes your code in main. For example, all our demo apps contain the following code:. You may wonder why the following does not work with assistant library:. This is actually because the assistant library's event loop blocks the main thread, so the internal event loop inside the button driver does not get to run. To summarize, the button driver runs an internal event loop from the stock GPIO driver in the main thread.

And assistant library also runs an event loop that blocks the main thread. To solve this problem and allow both event loops to run successfully, we need to use the powerful threading library in Python and run the assistant library event loop in a separate thread.

For more information on Python threading, take a look at the official Python threading doc. The source code for a working demo is at: We created a class MyAssistant to capture all the logic. In its constructor, we created the thread that will be used to run the assistant library event loop:. In that function, we created an assistant library object and ran the event loop. This event loop is executed in the thread we created, separate from the main thread:.

We have yet to hook up the button trigger at this point, because we want to wait until the Google Assistant is fully ready. This is the simplest demo of utilizing the button trigger. It's a powerful OS that helps you build connected devices on a variety of embedded hardware systems. So if you also have a Raspberry Pi 3, follow this codelab to build a voice assistant on Android Things, or download the sample code on GitHub.

Want to try another API? Follow the instructions below to try the Cloud Speech API, which recognizes your voice speech and converts it into text. The Cloud Speech API supports 80 languages, long audio clips, and the ability to add phrase hints for processing audio. Why do I need to turn on billing? On your desktop, double-click the Start Dev Terminal icon. Then start the app: Check that it works correctly On your desktop, double-click the Check Cloud icon. Follow along with the script.

To issue a voice command, press the arcade button once to activate the voice recognizer and then speak loudly and clearly.

To add a voice command, first make it explicit what command is expected to the recognizer. This improves the recognition rate:. Then add the code to handle the command. We will use aiy. You may add more voice commands.

Several ideas include a "time" command to make it speak out the current time or commands to control your smart light bulbs.

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