That comparison is even more obvious with the release of the Google Home Mini, essentially the same thing as the Echo Dot, except with Google Assistant instead of Alexa and no wireless option. In theory it’s a good idea that makes voice assistants more flexible around the house, but in practice, the Home Mini is already in trouble, even without looking at Amazon’s superior market share.
If you haven’t heard the news yet, Google is fighting a wave of bad press after the company was forced to admit that the Home Mini was listening in on random conversations around the house even without the keyword phrase (“OK, Google”), and recording those conversations.
This is an incredible disaster for Google, and probably a blow to Apple and Amazon’s similar products, too: if there’s one thing consumers worry about with these voice command devices, it’s that they might be eavesdropping on private matters.
Now that this nightmare scenario is confirmed for the Home Mini – even though it appears to be a mistake – the future of this device is uncertain. Google has currently issued an update that makes the Home Mini activation button useless (apparently this activation button was causing some of the issues), and we wouldn’t be surprised if the product is pulled from the market for a while.
But whether or not Google decides to wait for a more opportune time to sell the Home Mini, let’s take a quick look at its features: In essence, the Home Mini offers the same capabilities that Home does, with the ability to ask questions (weather, recipes, sports scores, the usual voice assistant things), and control smart home devices.
The smart home side of Home devices is particularly strong, since Google has excellent relationships with smart home brands and plenty of compatibility with all common smart devices.
The draw to the Home Mini vs. the Home is that the Mini is more affordable at $50, and that it’s a lot smaller. The Home is meant to be placed in a central living room or family center location where it can broadcast tunes and hear people around the house. The mini is designed for the bedside table or kitchen, where it’s not going to play much music but rather give simple reports and command smart devices. Of course, you have to get over the whole eavesdropping thing first.