Audio, Geek, Music, Tech

It’s Been a Few Years: Where Do We Stand With Smart Speakers?

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Smart speakers like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomePod have been around for years and are here to stay. While some tech innovations come and go, smart speakers have proven quite popular because they are so versatile.

We’ll be going over some of the commands that are useful in your daily life, especially if you have smart home devices

You might be wondering why you’d want a smart speaker when you already have a phone or smartwatch, but don’t worry, we answer that, too.

Small Differences

Before getting started, I want to say that some of the commands here may not work for your particular device. Each smart speaker has slightly different linguistic parameters, so you might need to give you command in a slightly different way. So, if the exact commands here don’t work as listed, then just speak in a way your smart assistant understands.

Otherwise, all these commands should work if you have the right equipment.

Music

Everyone loves music. You already know you can play and stop music with your assistant, but it can do so much more with the right commands. For example, you can tell your speaker to play music by genre or by context.

  • ”Play hard rock songs.”
  • ”Play that Smashmouth song from 1999.”

What if you can’t remember the year, band, or context of a song? You just have a few words in your head and you want to hear that song, whatever it is. That’s fine, your smart speaker will know exactly what you’re talking about.

  • ”Play that song that goes ‘you must whip it’.”

You can also tell it to play by artist, year, feeling, or nearly any other parameter. Need to relax? Ask your device to play ambient noise, white noise, or just tell it you need to relax. You can tell your speaker to skip ahead to the next song, rewind 30 seconds, or set a timer to make the music stop playing in 10, 20, 30 minutes or more.

Smart Home

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Amazon’s head of devices says the smart home is still ‘too complicated’ — and working with major rivals like Apple and Google is the way to fix it

These are my favorite commands. You’ll need smart home devices of course, but these commands give you a taste of the power you can wield with your voice. Don’t blame me if you go a little mad with power and play with your home for hours.

Let’s start with lights. You know you can turn lights on and off, but that’s simple and boring. A smart home is about deep customization. You can make your lights perfect with these commands:

  • ”Dim/brighten my lights by 20%.”
  • ”Turn my lights red/blue/green.”
  • ”Make the living room lights a little warmer/cooler.”

What about temperature? You know you can set the temperature to a certain degree, like 70 degrees, but what if you feel cold and want it a little warmer. Tell your smart speaker to turn up the temperature a degree or two.

  • ”Turn the temperature up/down by two degrees.”

So simple. You can also lock doors, close your garage, disable your WiFi, and control all aspects of your home from your speaker.

It gets even cooler when you assign devices to different rooms. This gives your commands more versatility while improving your control over the house. You can control temperature by room (“make the living room 2 degrees warmer”), change who has WiFi access (“turn off the kids’ WiFi”), and change the lights (“make the kitchen lights blue”).

Sports and News

Do you care about sports and news? Your smart speaker can help you keep up with your favorite news outlets, teams, sports, or the weather. This is all done with simple voice commands.

For example, you wake up and want to know what’s new in the world. Just use these commands:

  • ”What are the news headlines for today?”
  • ”What’s the latest news from CNET/News 12/etc”
  • ”What’s the weather today?”
  • “What’s new with the Red Sox?”

Those are all basic commands. You can use contextual commands that are more nuanced to get more out of your smart speaker. For example:

  • ”Do I need an umbrella/coat today?”
  • ”How long is my commute today?”
  • ”Did the Mets win last night?”
  • ”Tell me a positive news story”

This allows you to easily get the news or info you want without ever looking at your smartphone. Plus, it feels like the speaker really understands you with these nuanced commands.

Broadcasting

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Every Alexa command to give your Amazon Echo smart speaker or display

If you have multiple smart speakers throughout the home, then you can make broadcasts and announcements with a single voice command. This lets you send a message to all the other speakers and there are a variety of messages you can send. Just a few of them are:

  • ”Broadcast breakfast/lunch/dinner is ready.”
  • ”Broadcast it’s time to wake up.”
  • ”Broadcast I’m home/will be home soon.”
  • ”Broadcast the movie/show is about to start.”

These are just a few samples. You can broadcast nearly any message to let your friends, spouse, children, relatives and anyone else in the house. It’s a great way to “rally the troops” and let everyone know what’s going on.

Better Than Smartphone

how-smart-speakers-stole-the-show-from-smartphones
How smart speakers stole the show from smartphones

I’ve been talking about how great smart speakers are, and to be honest, this is a very small sample of cool commands you can give your speaker. However, we have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Almost all of these things can be done on your smartphone. So, when is a speaker better than your phone?

First, let’s talk about convenience. Do you really want to reach into your pocket, turn on your device, open an app, and adjust the settings by one degree for your home? Or, would you rather just say “raise the temperature by one degree” and move on with your life?

There are also times when you’re hands are full. You’re coming in after shopping and you want to issue a command. Or, maybe you’re cooking and the idea of balancing a chef’s knife and your phone worries you (which it should).

It’s situational, but when you get a smart speaker you notice that those situations are quite abundant.

Conclusion

Smart speakers give you the freedom to control your home and access information just with your voice. Yes, you can issue many of these commands with your phone, but a speaker is more convenient in many situations.

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