Let’s find out, whether Alexa or Google supports our Logitech Harmony better. We will compare configuration, voice commands, smart displays, and assistant specific smart home features.
Now, that we have thoroughly examined the setup of Logitech Harmony: a Hub and it’s Elite, Ultimate, Companion, and we looked into the setup of our two assistants (links below), it’s time to compare them and draw our conclusions.
Note: Siri, unfortunately, couldn’t make it to the party and even if she would have come (on a Raspberry Pi project), I am afraid she wouldn’t be able to keep up with Google and Alexa.
If you are interested in the setup and voice-commands of a particular assistant with Logitech Harmony, you can find the dedicated posts here:
- Logitech Harmony and Google Home: New Setup and Voice Commands (NEW)
- Logitech Harmony and Google Assistant: (Retired) Setup and Voice Commands (RETIRED)
- Logitech Harmony and Alexa: Setup, Review and Voice Commands
Comparison of Alexa and Google with Logitech Harmony
As we are living in the exciting age of cloud AI, any of the features below can change silently overnight, if Logitech, Amazon, and Google decide to improve and update.
Mobile Hint: tilt your smartphone for a better table view!
|Amazon Alexa - Harmony Red Skill||Amazon Alexa - Harmony Blue Skill||Google Home|
Red Action (RETIRED)
Blue Service (NEW)
|Configuration: Supports multiple Harmony Hubs||PARTIALLY: 2 Hubs through additional red skill||PARTIALLY: 2 Hubs through additional red skill||NO||YES: with household sharing|
|Configuration: Imports and Displays Harmony Activities in App||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Configuration: Imports and Displays Harmony Favorites in App||YES||YES||PARTIALLY: only displayed during linking||PARTIALLY: only displayed during linking|
|Configuration: Friendly Names for Activities and Favorites||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|"Ask Harmony" Voice Commands||YES||NO||YES||NO|
|Optimized Voice Commands||NO||YES||NO||YES|
|Smart Display: Supports Harmony Activities||NO||NO||NO||YES|
|Smart Display: Supports Harmony Favorites||NO||NO||NO||YES|
|Assistant Feature: Routines||NO||YES: Alexa Routines based on:|
- Voice commands
- A time of day
- Sunset / Sunrise
- Limited set of sensors
- Echo Button
- Deactivating the Alarm
|NO||YES: Google Routines based on:
- Voice commands
- A time of day
Google's bi-lingual smart home support is unique.
How to draw our conclusions?
Having a favorite voice assistant is a matter of personal taste. Independent of their technical features and different approaches, I’m sure, you have your own reasons why you prefer one assistant’s company to another. Here, however, we will compare the current status of their Logitech Harmony support and smart home features.
You will find two columns for both assistants. Alexa, supports two different skills, the red and the optimized blue skill. They are different in functionality and in case you have two Harmony hubs, you will need to install both.
The two columns for Google indicate a similar approach, as we have a newer blue Harmony service. Google’s plan, however, is to retire the old red Action and replace it with the new integration. Google provides also an updated Google Home app, which supports a “Household” concept, through which additional Harmony Hubs can be integrated (one per household member).
If you like to tinker with 3rd party cloud services, you could also use IFTTT, Yonomi, and others, to support multiple Harmony hubs on both assistants. But that’s another layer of complexity, configuration effort and another cloud service, which needs to be up and running to mediate between the assistants and Harmony.
Both Assistants import the Harmony activities and up to 50 favorite channel names you can choose. Logitech has implemented the same excellent configuration options for both, where you can select what you’d like to import and specify friendly names for our voice assistants. Alexa displays the Harmony activities and favorites as scenes in her app. Google displays only the activities in his apps.
The “ask Harmony” voice commands are equally supported by both assistants with the red Skill/Action. This historical voice command approach is not user-friendly, as you have to talk to the assistants and their Skills/Actions. Both assistants support now a modern, direct control of your Harmony activities and favorites, playback and volume control.
Alexa supports streamlined voice commands through the blue skill, where we can omit the “ask Harmony to …”. Furthermore, with the blue skill Alexa’s common commands, like pause, resume, volume up/down, etc. are handled by Harmony for a period of time, when a Harmony activity is running.
Google has a similar approach with its blue action. However, for volume commands, you will always have to add the Harmony activity (e.g. “… on TV”) to have them working. The other commands work in short form as long as the voice focus is kept on Harmony, without a timeout.
Note, voice commands are the most subjective topic ever. What feels natural to me, might feel like the exact opposite to you. And this is where the future of AI will adapt individually to our preferences, rather than us having to adapt to technology, as we have to today.
Here’s where Google shines! While the Alexa app leads, by at least displaying your Harmony favorites in her app, the Echo Show does neither support Harmony activities nor favorites.
Note, this might change soon, as Amazon announced along with the new Amazon Echo Show 5 to update the smart home section of their smart displays.
Google Nest Hub offers (when you swipe down and tap on Media):
- Harmony Activities, and if supported by the Harmony activity you tap on, the following sections:
- Control section (On/off, Play, Pause, Rewind, Stop, Forward)
- Volume Section (Volume Up/Down, Un/mute)
- Channel section (Harmony favorites)
We can use the touchscreen to silently control our Logitech Harmony. And even better, when we issue a voice command, the Nest Hub will not only perform it but also automatically open the corresponding section on the display. If you have the Nest Hub around, where you usually watch TV, you can easily mix voice commands and touch control to whatever fits best for you.
Both assistants offer extensive, so-called routines, where we can define a voice command and let the assistants do many actions at once. For both we can – with Alexa alternatively, with Google additionally – define a schedule, when this routine should be executed. This way, we can combine Harmony activities or favorite channels with other smart home devices, like lighting, and set the perfect scene for an activity (remember our candlelight dinner routine?).
With Alexa we can integrate Harmony activities and favorites through scenes into our routines, e.g. we can turn on the scene “Discovery”. Google appears to be here a bit more flexible, as we can type in the command we would say, eg “switch to channel Discovery on the TV”. Alexa supports additionally Echo Buttons, sunset/sunrise, locations, a limited set of sensors to activate routines. Since recently we can also activate a routine when turning our alarm off. As Alexa supports a wait function we could automatically e.g. turn on our TV news channel, 10 minutes after waking up.
Google’s bilingual support, where we can set a second language is technologically impressive. Unfortunately, the Harmony favorites commands are not working yet in a second language.
Let’s summarize Alexa and Google’s strengths and weaknesses.
- If you have three or more Harmony Hubs, you might prefer Google.
- The configuration effort is comparable, though you’ll miss your Harmony favorites displayed in the Google Home and Assistant app.
- The voice commands are very similar. If you prefer short commands which “time out”, you might prefer Alexa. If you like consistent voice commands, which do not time out, and which are bit longer for volume control you might prefer Google.
- Google leads currently with an interactive smart display concept, offering touch control in the context of the voice command you’ve issued. The Amazon Echo Show ignores Harmony completely. But we can expect Alexa to catch up with smart display features, as Amazon already announced an update together with the Echo Show 5.
- Alexa currently offers more events to trigger your routines.
- Google supports two languages at once, though the Harmony favorite channels are still not supported.
If you asked half a year ago, we would have recommended Alexa, as the initial bugs in Google’s new Harmony integration ranged from severe showstoppers to smaller glitches, requiring many workarounds on your end.
Today, it’s a question of which features matter most to you?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this “showdown”. You can find more voice assistant competitions here:
- Musical Assistant Showdown: Who will win, Siri, Google or Alexa?
- Assistant Showdown with Philips Hue: Who will win, Siri, Alexa or Google?
- Assistant Showdown with Nanoleaf Aurora: Who will win, Siri, Alexa or Google?
- If you’d like to read more about Siri, see: Apple Siri.
- For more Alexa posts, check out Amazon Alexa.
- More Google Home posts are here: Google Assistant.
If you have questions or feedback – maybe we’ve overlooked some features – please leave your comment below. You can subscribe to receive notifications when we’re updating this post.