Amazon Echo first thoughts: Alexa out Google’s the Google app by delivering faster and less robotic results



When it comes to reviewing a product, I tend to spend as much time as possible with the device, so that I’m able to accurately give my honest thoughts for all of you. While this is by no means a fully loaded review with all of the belles and whistles you’ve come to know and love, I just couldn’t keep my thoughts on the Amazon Echo to myself any longer. I cannot remember the last time I found myself this excited to use and talk about a particular device. Using Amazon Echo is very enjoyable and I’ve found myself the past two evenings just thoroughly enjoying my experiences so much that I had to share.

The most surprising and in-your-face observation thus far: Amazon’s Echo bests the Google app (formerly Google Search) in three key areas, where until now, Google had held a clear leader position in two of them.

  • Amazon Echo returns results faster than the Google app
  • Alexa from Amazon Echo sounds less robotic and more pleasant than Google
  • Music controls. Music controls. Music controls.

Now just because working with Alexa is faster and more pleasant than working with Google doesn’t mean that Amazon’s Echo is the superior virtual assistant. Google’s extensive Knowledge Graph has been able to provide answers to some questions that Amazon Echo failed to answer. Conversational search is another area where Google excels, leaving Alexa in the dust, as it just doesn’t exist. Though, for the most part, the two virtual assistants were quite similar with their results.

As for my third observation, the music controls on the Amazon Echo are by far the most advanced I’ve ever used in a product. Being able to say Alexa play, stop, pause, unpause, next, volume up, volume down, shut up, etc. to fully control your music listening experience, all hands-free, is something that I’ve wanted with Google Play Music for years now.


Amazon Echo and Alexa have many other pros and cons to cover. Over the next week I’ll be putting the two through the paces with a full video comparison to the Google app, which will be showcased in our upcoming review. Teaser: I love the microphone.

For now, here’s some questions that need answering: Can the Amazon Echo live up to it’s advertised expectations? Will Amazon’s limited ecosystem spell doom for the Amazon Echo? And lastly, will Amazon Echo be able to compete or replace the Google app?

Keep watching Phandroid for our full Amazon Echo Review to find the answers to those questions as well as more information about the omnidirectional microphone, speaker output, and companion application.

What do you want to know about the Amazon Echo? Let us know in the comments.

Derek Ross
I'm a passionate Android enthusiast that's on the pulse of the latest Android news, writing about Android as often as possible. I'm also a little addicted to social networking. Hit me up, I'd love to chat.

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  1. How about DLNA support? Can it function as a remote for a smart receiver or TV? I would possibly be interested in using it to control music playback through my existing home system.

    1. DLNA not yet. Music is limited to what you have in your Prime Music library, Prime Music itself, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    2. You can pair with it and use as a normal BT speaker.

  2. I’ve been patiently waiting for music controls via voice on Google for years.

    I’d love to be able to use actual hands free while driving. Skip, block, star, pause. All the features a streaming music app has.

    1. The phrase ‘pause music’ seems to work now, at least while Maps navigation is active.

      I have found that one can also now say “Play with ” to start playing music using a particular app.

  3. I have had the Echo for several weeks. I mostly use it to play music and radio stations. It is also great for weather, alarms and timers. Our family uses it several times a day for something. It is a cool device.

    1. My wife has been enjoying it, I think. Though all of the songs she tried to play weren’t available :( Which then my daughter was sad…but we fixed it by Casting the songs from Google Play Music to the TV and all were happy!

      1. Have you uploaded music to your Amazon account?

  4. LOL – so yeah samsung admits recording calls on “smart” tvs. Microsoft also with XBOX one… and now this from amazon… yeah thats ok this thing is just not that important to own… lol

    1. Not quite sure what your point is. The Echo is a cloud device. The terms of use are quite clear and up-front about the fact that your speech is sent to Amazon’s cloud for processing. And, you have the option of deleting anything you’ve said to Echo/Alexa.

      1. that is EXACTLY my point – do not need more of MY conversations stored in the CLOUD at the mercy of these corporations. Not tin foil hat stuff but no thank you stuff.

        1. You might want quit using your Cell Phone and Internet connected computer then if you’re worried about your usage being recorded. This device doesn’t have conversations, by the way, it responds to requests. If someone wants to know what music I’m playing, my grocery list, my weather forecast requests or baking timers and wake up alarms… well they must really be bored. People who think the NSA has the time or resources… or desire to spy on everyday people amuse me and have never worked for the federal government apparently. And if Amazon wants to remotely turn on the 7 microphones to listen to me 24/7… more power to them. LOL.

          1. if i had a dollar for every time i heard this line… ugh i would be rich enough to buy the NSA… do you miss the premise of my point? its possible – i can see how i am not clear – my point is this – it does not matter if this info is going to “marketing” or the “nsa” i do not want this device in my room – connected to the “cloud” to be told that my info with it is PRIVATE but is being used for nefarious purposes – just like what Samsung had to admit they were doing – when the buyers though they had a “reasonable” degree of privacy. This technology is making us lazier and lazier anyway – is it to hard to create a play list in our phones? do we need to speak to everything now? is flipping the remote buttons to hard now to change channels? is SAYING xbox ON easier then pressing the power button? – forget it – this kind of crap is not making life easier – just making a generation dumber while their conversations are secretly or openly being SOLD to advertisers and or being given to government. AND before anyone says “well if you dont have anyting to Hide” crap – then they are the problem – this is not worth it – if it breaches any reasonable standard of privacy. With regards to giving up the cell phone – uh well you have to pick and chose your battles- and i turn the thing off and leave it next to a radio when its not in use – so if anyone wants to hear the broadcast – feel free NSA/MARKETERS.

  5. can’t use it on Spotify I don’t think. plus you’re tethered to an outlet. I’ve heard the speaker isn’t good, what’s your feedback on that

    1. I don’t want to give all the goods away, but I’m fine with the speaker. It’s an excellent $100 speaker.

    2. I think the speaker is in line with others in the $100 range. I think a next gen Echo should have a base it can detach from so it can go in the other room with you. then you could buy extra bases and dock in different rooms of the house.

  6. My review/thoughts so far:

    Alexa says Pandora support is coming soon, but I’d love to know when. I guess you can BT your phone to her speaker and work it that way.. But I’d prefer for Alexa not to rely on any other devices.

    I’ve had a few times where Alexa just didn’t know what I was asking her, but I love using the companion app to report my results back to Amazon. Is it going to help improve, Alexa? I hope so.

    My girlfriend doesn’t much care for Alexa, and unfortunately, she can control her…even telling Alexa “you’re stupid” to which Alexa replied “you’re entitled to your opinion”… I guess I will just have to work on these two ladies getting along better. I wish Alexa wouldn’t respond to my girlfriend’s voice ;)

    I asked Alexa to create a Dave Matthews Band station. I think she did this on iheart radio. Now, when I ask her to play my Dave Matthews Band station, she’ll sometimes play iheart radio, and sometimes choose a playlist off amazon prime (even though I don’t have a DMB playlist/station there). She’s confused…I’m confused…I don’t know what to do!

    All in all, Alexa and I are getting along fine. She was helpful with a timer last night, helped me do some grocery shopping, and answered a few annoying questions, just to impress some friends.. she puts up with a lot in my home!

    1. You can try “Alexa, play my Dave Matthews Band station on iHeartRadio” to be more specific…

    2. I sense a menage a trois on the horizon.

  7. Really!? I’ve been wanting to use Voice Commands to control my music SO MUCH!! Ugh!! I haven’t tried, but can you use voice commands to play certain playlists?
    I don’t know why I haven’t tried yet. Ugh!! And I’d love to be able to add a song to my queue, or even have a song play next. My life isn’t lazy enough. I have to do too much work.

  8. #FirstWorldProblems <— we can ALL agree on that

    I can ok Google pretty much everything I want to ask
    My phone & tablet both work when screen is off so I don't need to touch devices.

    It sounds like an interesting device. Maybe for $100 I'll give it a try. I just requested an invite (got Prime a few weeks back when it was on sale for $72 for the day)

  9. This is very intriguing! I heard about the Echo over a month ago but haven’t seen any reviews on it yet. I’d be curious about the sound quality since that’s #1 for me. After being spoiled with my UE Boom, it’s hard to try any other portable as they’ve mostly been letdowns. Also, battery life, water and stain resistance, ruggedness, whether it has NFC or Apt-X, whether there’s a mobile app and how good it is, and warranty (Logitech replaced my busted Boom – which was my fault – even with no receipt).

  10. It looks like my fleshlight .

    1. With a built in fleshlight, vibration, music and that voice it would sell better than the Iphone.

  11. I’m glad to hear it’s going well. I decided to buy one and have it coming in a few weeks/months.

  12. But is it recording your conversations and sending them to a scary block box at the NSA?

    1. Everything is these days. Are you gonna let that stop you from getting the best tech? No techie can say no to new tech.

  13. I have had an Echo for almost three months now and everyone in the family really likes it overall. It works well enough that we are happy to wait for more features and are glad to be early adopters. The single best thing is the ability to understand you, there is no repeating yourself it really can hear us and understand from 20 and 30 feet away. Amazing really.

    Sound quality is fine, could there be more bass sure, but it is a 3″ circle so I’m not expecting miracles but from first plug in the sound has been better than I expected it to be. Overall when listening I think it sounds great and have not really wished for more and it does get plenty loud. The only time it has trouble hearing you is when the volume is above volume 8 then I have to get closer as the sound is too loud for mics to hear me from a distance.

    Wishes? I wish it was portable and not plugged in all the time so you could move it easier. Or, make Echo the primary hub and let me add on secondary speakers that I can move about via bluetooth or something. That would be very cool. How about a 6″ bluetooth sub as an add on purchase? Link the main, a second or third speaker and a sub and you’d have Sonos you can talk to! Now that would be a killer setup!

    Overall a great device and I love it, it is really handy to just say what you want to listen to and have it ready to go all the time. My wife was not excited by it at purchase, she is now. My daughter loves it. Now it just needs a few more uses, I want to control my fire TVs with it for example. “Alexa open Netflix on fire tv in living room” or “Alexa lets watch Dr Who episode Blink”. Yes please. Have it pair with Nest thermostats – “Alexa set temperature to 73” or whatever. It would seem this could grow a lot in the future.

    My only other wish is that there was a way to actually give this type of feedback to Amazon. As of yet I have not found a way to submit feedback at all for suggestions like this.

    1. You can submit these suggestions through the Echo app. I have done so several times. In fact, I’ve suggested the same idea of making the Echo the central hub and being able to attach satellite speakers/microphones around the house. They acknowledged the email pretty quickly. Check out the area in the app. If we all ask for the same feature, perhaps they’ll listen.

      1. Thank you very much for the info, I swore I had looked in the app for this before but had only found ways to send feedback on specific things I’d asked Echo. This time I opened it up and there it was big as life, I’ve no idea how I missed that before! Thanks, I will submit feedback now happily and I too hope they listen so some of our requests. I’m pretty reasonable and only ask for things that could legitimately happen so maybe some will some day!

        Now if only they need a beta tester, I sign any NDA they give me!

    2. hmmm, a portable charging docking station definitely seems like a good idea.

    3. Cool review thanks. Ive had one sitting in my shopping cart since I got the invite…Just havent pulled the trigger…

      1. When I got my invite I waited 6 days before purchasing as I too was unsure if I’d use it. I am glad I finally purchased it now as it is fun and I hope my uses and feedback can help it grow.

        The most surprising thing out of the box was the weight of the Echo, if nothing else the sheer weight makes you think it is a quality piece. There is a whole lot of magnet in there which I’ve now seen in the teardowns done on this device.

        The thing I use most is the weather feature and music of course. Weather is cool as you can ask specific questions on the weather and not get just a general forecast. I asked last night “Alexa what is the snow forecast for tonight?” and got a reply of “There is a 79% chance of snow tonight with accumulation up to .62 of an inch by midnight.” It is just handy to just ask as I happen to wonder and works well. It did snow.

        Another think I forgot to mention is someone in the house is named Alex. We have never had it activate when someone says their name, it really does want Alexa only. Now I have had it activate maybe twice at what seemed random times where were were no where close to saying Alexa that we could think of. Still impressive.

        I also was able to submit some feedback last night in the app and I got a reply form them stating that controlling the fire TV would be “very cool” and they would forward the request to the dev team. I got the reply 12 minutes after submitting it at say 9pm. Neat.

  14. Mine sits in my closet on the shelf. My kids would constantly fight over telling it what to do so it actually never got anything done. Alexa this, Alexa that…. Drove me and the Mrs. nuts.
    I just hooked my phone back up to my Bose Soundlink.
    Anyone want to buy my Alexa cheap?

    1. I’m interested!

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