Let’s find out, which of our assistants supports Logitech Harmony better. We will compare configuration, voice commands, and assistant specific smart home features.
Now, that we have thoroughly examined Logitech Harmony: a Hub and it’s Elite, Ultimate, Companion, and we looked into the setup of our two assistants, it’s time to compare them and draw our conclusions. 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 Alexa and Google Home.
If you are interested in the setup, review, 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
Please note, Google supports now a new “blue” Harmony integration. I am therefore updating this post including the publishing date for your orientation. Thanks David for the reminder! =)
Comparison of the Two Assistants
As we are living in the exciting age of 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 larger setups (multiple Harmony Hubs)||PARTLY: 2 Hubs through additional red skill||PARTLY: 2 Hubs through additional red skill||N/A||YES: Through household sharing|
|Configuration: Imports and Displays Harmony Activities||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Configuration: Imports and Displays Harmony Favorite Channels||YES||YES||PARTLY: Favorites are only displayed during linking||PARTLY: Favorites are only displayed during linking|
|Configuration: Friendly Names for Activities and Favorites||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|"ask Harmony" Voice Commands||YES||N/A||YES||N/A|
|Optimized Voice Commands||N/A||YES||N/A||PARTLY: Voice Focus currently inconsistent, you need to add e.g. "... on TV" for consistency.|
|Assistant Feature: Routines||N/A||YES: Blue skill Activities and Favorites appear as Scenes in Alexa Routines. You can define Alexa Routines to combine actions based on:|
- Voice commands
- A time of day
|N/A||YES: Blue skill Activities appear as remote control devices. Favorites only during linking. You can define Routines to combine actions based on:
- Voice commands
- A time of day
So, how to read this table?
Still, as with every assistant comparison, and especially now, that Google has provided a new (blue) Harmony integration, most is a matter of personal taste. How do you like to set up, configure and talk to your voice assistants?
You will find two columns for Alexa, as she 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, now, that they have released a new blue Harmony service. However, Google’s approach is to retire the old red Action and replace it with the new integration. Google provides now also an updated Google Home app, which supports a “Household” concept, through which additional Harmony Hubs can be integrated.
If you like to tinker with 3rd party cloud services, you could also use Yonomi, and what have you, to support multiple Harmony hubs on both assistants. But that’s another layer of complexity 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 choose. Logitech has implemented the same brilliant configuration options for both, where you can select what you’d like to import and specify friendly names.
My personal conclusion is that Google has now a better concept to support multiple Harmony Hubs, while Alexa is better in presenting your favorites to you. You can always look them up in your Alexa App Scenes list, with Google you need to go through a lengthy and not so intuitive un-link/re-link process to see the list.
The “ask Harmony” voice commands are equally supported by both assistants red Skill/Action.
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, when an activity is running.
Google has now a similar approach with its new blue Service. However, they fail currently with consistently supporting short commands like pause, resume, volume up/down, etc. Logitech officially states (in the e-mail you receive when linking the service), that such short commands will only work sometimes and recommends to always append the device to your commands “OK Google, resume on the TV“.
Voice commands are for me 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. But I am digressing …
Personally, I have never seen such a smart voice integration like the Alexa and Harmony blue skill. Some might be confused and dislike, that the short commands time-out after some time, to me it feels natural. Google might have tried to reach this level, but all it left for me was a headache, when trying to understand what they mean by stating that my beloved short commands work only sometimes. But, that’s me.
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 alternatively define a schedule, when this routine should be executed. This way, we can combine Harmony activities and 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 displays here more flexibility, as we can type in the command we would say, eg “switch to channel Discovery on the TV”. Alexa supports additionally Echo Buttons to activate routines and is going in the direction of supporting contact and motion sensors to trigger routines (limited devices as of now).
Google’s bilingual support, where we can set a second language is technologically impressive. Unfortunately only some Harmony commands are working in a second language, as of now.
Personally, this is an exciting area, where we continuously see updates on both sides. I’d call it a draw.
My Very Personal Conclusion
- Congratulations Alexa! You are my winner in this Logitech Harmony competition.
- Google, you are now so close with your new blue Harmony Service, please fix the open bugs.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this “showdown”. You can find more 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.
Now it’s your turn: Which integration do you prefer? What are your favorite features and voice commands? Looking forward to your comment below!