The Her-ification of our living rooms is upon us. Just as Spike Jonze predicted, soothing female voices will soon pervade every household, ready to stream our favourite songs, man our smart home devices, answer our inane questions, and do everything short of breaking our hearts. (Hopefully.) With Apple throwing down the gauntlet to the Amazon Echo and Google Home by unveiling its HomePod — slated for release this fall — the smart speaker wars are officially on. And for good reason: according to market research firm Strategy Analytics, these AI-powered, voice-activated assistants will make up 90% of all wireless speakers by 2022. That means, sooner than later, you’re likely going to buy one. But which is right for you? Even ScarJo’s disembodied whisper can’t answer that. Luckily, we can.
Resident chambermaid: Google Assistant
She’s got a huge brain. Google Assistant knows more about the world (and, well, you) than her rivals, thanks to her tight integration with the Internet’s largest search engine. In less than a year, she’s learned new tricks, including the ability to recognize different users and call anyone anywhere.
Red Flags: Her lack of self-awareness. While Google Assistant can control Chromecasts, she fails to integrate with many of Google’s key services; she can’t write an email or help schedule events.
Best-matched with: Chromecast owners, inquisitive types
Resident chambermaid: Alexa
She’s the most mature of the bunch. Being the OG of smart speakers, the Echo’s had the most time to advance. Alexa has over 15,000 skills (Google Assistant, by comparison, has just 378), which run the gamut from calling you an Uber to supporting most smart home devices (Philips Hue, the Nest, etc.) to — believe it or not — syncing with your Google Calendar.
Red Flags: She throws a lame party. The Echo’s got the poorest sound quality of the three.
Best Matched With: Home automation junkies, introverts
Price: $180 USD
Resident Chambermaid: Siri
She sounds heavenly, mostly because her speaker — with its seven tweeters along- side a primary woofer — outsizes those of her rivals. She’s also got the coolest record collection, drawing on the extensive iTunes store and Apple Music streaming service.
Red Flags: She’s the jealous type. Though the HomePod offers full voice control of any smart home device compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem, it has a closed attitude towards third-party support.
Best Matched With: Music nerds, Apple addicts
Price: $349 USD