I managed to wheel and deal a little bit today and got a 3rd Generation Alexa Echo Dot. And I though Google Home Mini had a long name...
The first thing I noticed, immediately out of the box, is that Alexa is HEAVY!
Both the Alexa Dot and Google Home Mini went on the scale (without their power cords) and the Mini came in at 174g versus 295g (6.1 oz vs 10.4 oz respectively). This is likely due to the better speaker on Alexa- we all know Alexa has better hardware while Google has the better software, or at least that seems to be the general consensus. I would concur as well, at least as far as my initial testing has taken me. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I will say that I also prefer Alexa's fancy circular light to the Mini's 4 dots. It is a lot easier to see if she's listening- and yes, I have fallen into the trap of calling them "she" because of the female voice on them. Yes, you can change it, but I'm pretty sure I prefer the female voice. Maybe I am sexist, wanting a female assistant, but I prefer to think of it as just preferring that the competent and helpful voice around the house doesn't sound like it's going to have a few beers later and take a swing at me.
Bear in mind that some of what I am about to say is the result of me already having Google Assistant software on my phone.
Alexa was harder to set up initially.
With the Google Home Mini, the app on my phone asked me if I wanted to connect my Mini to the same router, using the settings the phone used. I said yes and it did the rest for me. The app (Google Home) was already installed on my phone, and I believe it is already on most (all?) Android devices as part of the OS.
For Alexa I had to download the Alexa app on my phone, then connect to the device, then select the router and input the password. Not a big deal for most of us, but Google was a lot easier.
I then had to create a voice profile for Alexa, which resulted in me having to repeat ten phrases for her. With Google, creating a voice profile is a lot easier, as I think (if I recall correctly anyway, it has been a while since I set it up) you just say "Ok Google" three times and it's ready to go.
The speaker on the Dot is easily far superior to that of the Home Mini, and the light show you get while things are playing is much cooler, although I wonder what it is like to fall asleep to?
If you ask Google Home whether she is better than Alexa (or Siri, or Cortana etc) she will come up with one of many phrases that are amusing and noncommittal, while praising the others.
For example- I asked Google Home Mini right now whether she was better than Alexa. Google responded that she was sure that Alexa loved Canada as much as she did, and that she (Google) was looking forward to them singing the national anthem together someday. She then played O Canada.
I then asked her again and she said "I couldn't compare myself to Alexa- assistants have to stick together."
If you ask Alexa, she just says "I like all AI's" every time.
Not a big deal really, but it shows you that the difference between Alexa's AI and Google's is just as far apart as the difference between Google's speaker and Alexa's. Google's speaker is perfectly functional and adequate, but if you had Alexa first you'd be disappointed in it. Alexa's responses seem a lot more generic. Again, it is obvious in the Easter Eggs. Asking each of them silly questions like "will you be my girlfriend" or "drop a beat" and you will get the same (amusing) responses from Alexa each time. Ask the same questions to Google Home and it will come up with a different amusing answer every time.
How are babies made?
Alexa- "Babes are made through the process of reproduction."
Google- Actually gives the scientific process and then sends a link to your phone in case you want to know more
Is there a Santa?
Alexa- "Santa makes a lot of people Ho Ho Hopeful for a happy holiday and I definitely believe in that"
Google- dial tone, touch tones, elf switchboard, operator connects you to Santa, who then asks you to help him choose what band to have for Elfstock. Say yes you will help and it starts asking you some follow up questions which then leads to a holiday song.
If your kids don't believe Santa exists after that virtual, simulated two way conversation, then you have failed miserably as a parent.
All in all, I like them both, but I think (at least so far, bear in mind I have only had Alexa for an hour or so!) if I had to choose one, I would stick with Google. I will continue to test them against each other over the next little while and let you know if I change my mind.