Sorry, Alexa and Siri. Only Google Home can do these 5 things

Google Assistant is smarter and more personable than other digital voice assistants. It even lets you call it Boo Boo.

Dale Smith Former Associate Writer
Dale Smith is a former Associate Writer on the How-To team at CNET.
Dale Smith
5 min read

The Google Nest Mini (left) and Amazon Echo Dot are the top two best-selling smart speakers in the United States.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In the battle royal for smart home supremacy, Google is hardly a minor player -- but that doesn't mean Google Home loyalists aren't prone to suffer a little Alexa-envy now and again. Sure, there's a handful of things Amazon's voice assistant can do that Google Home can't, but Google Assistant packs its own unique bag of tricks that neither Alexa nor Apple's Siri have yet to master. For example, having a longer attention span and crafting a more distinct personality (more below). 

Millions of people rely on Google Home to manage humdrum household tasks like ordering groceriesputting your kids to bed or helping to find your lost phone, but Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod can both do all of that, too. If you've chosen the Google Home ecosystem to manage your digital life, wouldn't you like some bragging rights to go with it?

If you'd like to show off your Google Home to your non-Google Home friends and family, or if you'd just like to put Google Home's unique skills to work, here are the top five things Google Home can do that other smart speakers and their digital assistants can't. What's more, we'll show you how to do them.


Amazon may have been first to market with its 10-inch Echo Show (left), but CNET thinks Google's 7-inch Nest Hub (right) is the best overall smart display available today.

Derek Poore/CNET

Google Assistant is the smartest of the smart

When it comes to smart speaker smarts, Google Assistant reigns supreme. In a recent study by Loop Ventures that pitted Google Assistant against Alexa and Siri, researchers asked each assistant the same 800 questions then scored on whether the AI programs understood the question as well as how accurately or correctly they responded. Google Assistant trounced on Alexa and Siri, understanding 100% of queries and responding correctly 92.9% of the time. 

Both Alexa and Siri were only a hair or two shy of scoring perfectly on comprehension (99.9% and 99.8% respectively), but fell behind when it came to giving correct responses (Siri got it right 83.1% of the time, Alexa an even more pitiful 79.8%). 


A 2019 study by Loop Ventures asked Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant the same 800 questions. Even when broken down by category, Google Assistant couldn't be topped.

Loop Ventures

In another recent study that added Microsoft's Cortana to the mix, Google Assistant once again dominated the field as the only contender to score above 80% on accuracy. (Interestingly, Cortana attempted to answer more questions than any of the other assistants, including Google's, but then ranked worst at getting them right.)

Google Assistant has a secret nickname


If you're feeling a little spunky, try summoning Google Assistant with "Hey, Boo Boo" instead of "Hey, Google."

James Martin/CNET

When it comes to wake words (the phrase you say to invoke your voice assistant), Siri is the most restrictive. "Hey, Siri" is your only option. 

With Alexa you have four choices. You can call the voice assistant Alexa, Echo, Computer or Amazon, but you can't switch it up on the fly without going into settings.

Not only does Google add some flexibility by allowing you to summon Google Assistant with either "Hey, Google" or "OK, Google," there's another, secret way to get your smart speaker's attention: Call it "Boo Boo."

Saying "Hey, Boo Boo" or "OK, Boo Boo" doesn't get you a different response than the admittedly less cutesy "official" wake words, but it might put a smile on your face next time you communicate with your Google Home.

Google Home gives you more voice options for your assistant

Google Assistant has the competition beat by giving you the most control over your Google Home's voices and accents, which helps you personalize your assistant and make it feel more like your own. 

Amazon has a little flexibility if you're willing to pay $1 to get Samuel L. Jackson's voice to helm some select duties. But if you change languages or accents, some functions might not work.

Watch this: Google shows off the power of Assistant

Siri is better about letting you pick multiple voices and accents, but the options are limited compared to Google Home's more than 10 different voice options. You can even pick singer John Legend and actor Issa Rae, but their functionality is limited, so you'll hear a different voice respond when theirs can't.


Google Assistant currently has 12 available color-coded voices to choose from, including celebrities and non-American accents.


Here's how you can change your Google Home's default voice.

1. Open your Google Home app.

2. Tap your personal icon in the lower-right corner.

3. Under the Google Assistant heading, tap More settings.

4. Select Assistant from the menu bar at the top.

5. Tap Assistant voice.

6. Choose from the list of voices until you find one that suits you.

Google Home responds to up to 3 commands in a row

Communicating with other assistants can sometimes feel like talking to a small child who can only pay attention to one thing at a time. "Assistant, turn off the lights. Assistant, set volume to 5. Assistant, play my bedtime playlist." 

With Google Home, you can say, "OK, Google, turn off the lights, set the volume to five and play my bedtime playlist" to accomplish that same series of tasks, all in one breath. 

Granted, this works better when the commands are relatively simple -- and it helps if they're related. For example, the string "Hey, Google, turn off the kitchen lights, turn on the bedroom lights and lock the front door" is likely to go off without a hitch because all of those are smart-home operations. 


Google Home can listen for up to three back-to-back commands. Alexa and Siri can only handle one at a time.

James Martin/CNET

Google Home can translate in real-time

Although you may not be housing a foreign exchange student or international diplomats any time soon, Google Home's ability to act as a real-time translator for up to 27 different languages could certainly come in handy if, say, a student in your home has language class homework or you need to send an email or direct message to someone whose first language isn't English.

To put Google Home into interpreter mode, simply voice what you need as you would naturally. For example:

  • "Hey, Google, translate into Spanish."
  • "OK, Google, I need an interpreter for Mandarin."
  • "Hey, Google, what's the French word for 'French fries?'"

There you have it -- the five biggest advantages of choosing Google Home over the competition and how to use them. Looking for more ways to have fun with your Google Home? Try mounting it on a wall -- just be sure to follow our guide to wall mounting your Google Home Mini or Nest Mini speaker. For a sneak peak at what's coming to Google Home this year, here are six features you can expect to see in 2020. Finally, if you're ready to make the leap from smart speaker to smart display, follow our smart display setup guide to get your new screen up and running in no time.

Check out the newest Google Assistant products at CES 2020

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Originally published last year and updated periodically.