Amazon Alexa or Google Nest

Having decided to take the plunge and get a smart speaker, what are peole's opinions/recommendations as to which to go for?
 
Having decided to take the plunge and get a smart speaker, what are peole's opinions/recommendations as to which to go for?
I have a houseful of Echo devices, two eight inch and three five inch screens and three regular devices and an Alexa enabled firestick. I have a Dot and an Echo Plus in the cupboard, now retired and I have re-homed a couple of Dots and a standard echo device.

I am very happy with my setup which controls heating, lighting and a couple of TVs and manage our calendar, shopping and other lists.

My son on the other hand started with an Echo Dot but then changed to Google. He likes his system too but ultimately I doubt there is little to choose between them. It probably comes down to aesthetics and cost in the final analysis.

A giant like Amazon knowing the ins and out of your life or a giant like Google knowing the same ins and out of you life. I can’t imagine that functionality is hugely different and indeed, I believe the two are now collaborating to some extent or another on Smart Home.

E.T.A. In terms of privacy and security, I don’t wear a tinfoil suit and hat in the house. I understand the implications but accept my whole life is tracked 24/7 whether I am simply browsing Arrse or out and about every day. Mitigation is the key.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
the supposed invasions of privacy are very slight and are more so if you tick the learning box when setting it up. amazon want to sell you stuff, Google wants to sell your life to everyone so amazon is probably the lesser of two evils. they have to listen for keywords which is why the mics are open but you can manually turn the mikes on and off.

I'm sure the NSA and GCHQ have a way of turning them into remote bugs but they can do that with mobile and house phones anyway.

before my relationship fell apart I'd just bought a load of smart bulbs sockets and dots to use for security lighting and in house - cabin intercoms. just started to get them going and linked in.

the drop in function is handy for chatting to family when you set them up that way.
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
Having decided to take the plunge and get a smart speaker, what are peole's opinions/recommendations as to which to go for?
This isn't a criticism - why?
It's not something i've ever considered, just interested in the inertia of motivation.
Personally I do think they are only there to sell to you or sell you to others, that's not the focus of my question though.
 
the supposed invasions of privacy are very slight and are more so if you tick the learning box when setting it up. amazon want to sell you stuff, Google wants to sell your life to everyone so amazon is probably the lesser of two evils. they have to listen for keywords which is why the mics are open but you can manually turn the mikes on and off.
Surely the whole point is having the mics on so it can hear the keywords? The thing for me is that its listening all the time and has been known to record stuff, having vague memories of police obtaining recording of a murder.
 
I had been considering Nest thermostats for our house (this was Nest’s original product). Our HVAC contractor swore off them, as he had experience of lots of both Nest and their Ecobee competitors. I’d used a Nest at work, and thought it a bit clunky. We ended up with Ecobees, and been very happy with them. I know this is thermostats vs speakers, but in short, Nest doesn’t have a great reputation.

Echoes are great, but as said above, they’re a bit of a security hole. We use an Apple TV for music/TV, and to enable the voice recognition, you have to press a button on the remote, rather than listening all the time. You press the Button and say “Hey Siri, play Christmas music” and you’re suddenly Walking in a Winter Wonderland.
 
I had been considering Nest thermostats for our house (this was Nest’s original product). Our HVAC contractor swore off them, as he had experience of lots of both Nest and their Ecobee competitors. I’d used a Nest at work, and thought it a bit clunky. We ended up with Ecobees, and been very happy with them.
Using Hive, very happy :)
 
Surely the whole point is having the mics on so it can hear the keywords? The thing for me is that its listening all the time and has been known to record stuff, having vague memories of police obtaining recording of a murder.
Can’t find anything that definitively points to a recording of a murder... A couple of seizures of equipment on the basis of ‘may have been recorded’.

Seizure of a voice assistant for its recordings is pointless as they do not store recordings locally of course. Maybe for matching the device to a recording and thus to the scene of the crime...

Independent - Nov 2018

It is not the first time US authorities have attempted to obtain data from an Amazon Echo device in order to help solve a murder.​

In 2015, police in Arkansas seized an Echo device as part of an investigation into the suspected murder of Victor Collins, whose body was discovered floating face-down in a hot tub.​

Amazon only provided the data after the person accused of murder voluntarily agreed for the recordings to be handed over to investigators. The case was dismissed in November 2017.
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
An 'oops, sorry 'bout that - won't happen again' moment from Amazon

And an advertising 'plug' from Google

Admittedly not recent, still worth reading though.

ETA: 'murder recording' articles here Search results for “alexa records murder” • The Register
 
Can’t find anything that definitively points to a recording of a murder... A couple of seizures of equipment on the basis of ‘may have been recorded’.

Seizure of a voice assistant for its recordings is pointless as they do not store recordings locally of course. Maybe for matching the device to a recording and thus to the scene of the crime...

Independent - Nov 2018

It is not the first time US authorities have attempted to obtain data from an Amazon Echo device in order to help solve a murder.​

In 2015, police in Arkansas seized an Echo device as part of an investigation into the suspected murder of Victor Collins, whose body was discovered floating face-down in a hot tub.​

Amazon only provided the data after the person accused of murder voluntarily agreed for the recordings to be handed over to investigators. The case was dismissed in November 2017.
An Amazon Echo smart speaker could provide crucial evidence in a double murder case in the US after a judge in New Hampshire ordered the tech giant to provide investigators with recordings from the device.
The speaker, which features the artificial intelligence voice assistant Alexa, was seized from a home in Farmington where two women were killed in January 2017.
Timothy Verrill, 36, is charged with killing Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pellegrini by stabbing each woman multiple times.

Judge Steven M Houran wrote in the court order that an Echo device present in the home may have captured audio that could provide key evidence in the case.
“The court finds there is probable cause to believe the server and/or records maintained for or by Amazon.com contain recordings made by the Echo smart speaker from the period of January 27, 2017 to January 29, 2017, and that such information contains evidence of crimes committed against Ms. Sullivan, including the attack and possible removal of the body from the kitchen” during that period,” Judge Houran wrote.

He then ordered Amazon to “produce forthwith to the court any recordings made by an Echo smart speaker with Alexa voice command capability", as well as "any information identifying cellular devices that were paired to that speaker during that time period.”

 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
We have Hive and also very happy but it too frequently calls home with the data It gathers.
It's not just Hive, i've recently bought a pair of TiBO devices, they insist on contacting a 'metrics' web address twice every eight seconds. I contacted the company who said it was to check for internet connectivity - so I blocked it at DNS level, they still look for the site twice every eight seconds (each!) and work perfectly.
Before anyone asks (or cares), DoH & DoT is blocked also, as is all DNS requests at the router other than the internal DNS server.
 
It's not just Hive, i've recently bought a pair of TiBO devices, they insist on contacting a 'metrics' web address twice every eight seconds. I contacted the company who said it was to check for internet connectivity - so I blocked it at DNS level, they still look for the site twice every eight seconds (each!) and work perfectly.
Before anyone asks (or cares), DoH & DoT is blocked also, as is all DNS requests at the router other than the internal DNS server.
Interesting, AFAIK mine sits happily dumb, just emails once a month giving me a comparison of my average temp to the local average.
 

OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
Interesting, AFAIK mine sits happily dumb, just emails once a month giving me a comparison of my average temp to the local average.
Once you start watching the router lights flickering and wondering why, it's a compelling rabbit hole to go down!
Even a 'simple' web page spaffs info about you and your habits far and wide. I don't pretend I can block it all (that's simple, just cut all the wires and ditch your mobile) but I do try and restrict what is sent & received whilst keeping useful connectivity
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
Surely the whole point is having the mics on so it can hear the keywords? The thing for me is that its listening all the time and has been known to record stuff, having vague memories of police obtaining recording of a murder.
as I understand it the wake word is always monitored and conversations are recorded for voice analysing


you can set your phones to okay google, Alexa or Siri

so its what you get used to and whether you are planning to off the wife or assassinate Afua Hirsch
 
as I understand it the wake word is always monitored and conversations are recorded for voice analysing


you can set your phones to okay google, Alexa or Siri

so its what you get used to and whether you are planning to off the wife or assassinate Afua Hirsch
None of the above, just not keen on my day to day convo being recorded. For the same reason my dashcam does not record voice.
 
Having decided to take the plunge and get a smart speaker, what are peole's opinions/recommendations as to which to go for?
If you would not be comfortable with putting a tv camera and microphone in your house and broadcasting everything to everyone, including us, then don't put either of those things in your house.

Before one of our in house pensioners starts the comedy routine about tin foil, it only takes basic understanding of the underlying technology to arrive at this conclusion.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
None of the above, just not keen on my day to day convo being recorded. For the same reason my dashcam does not record voice.
it doesn't record everything you say, it only listens for keywords, they only record the questions and you can set it to delete them every day IIRC.

as they can turn your mic and camera on your laptop and record everything you say and do with a simple hack I cant see a smart speaker being any different.

its why techies put tape over their lid cameras - I remember something with zuckerberg being shown with his laptop working and big lump of black nasty over the camera..

all the big OSs have assistants now as well.

I'm sure your search history is more damaging than your kitchen conversations and windows used to have a little text file hidden away from windows 95 that saved every ip address the puter ever visited.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
If you would not be comfortable with putting a tv camera and microphone in your house and broadcasting everything to everyone, including us, then don't put either of those things in your house.

Before one of our in house pensioners starts the comedy routine about tin foil, it only takes basic understanding of the underlying technology to arrive at this conclusion.
he already has. - he has a computer and a mobile phone probably a house phone too.

IIRC they did a test with a bluetooth jacking virus and it took a week or so to get from one side of the US to the other.

the only way to avoid it is to live underground by candlelight.
 

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