Smart speakers are so much more than music players, yet the majority of people who own a smart speaker use it only to play music. If you are looking for a great music player for kids, check this one out! While you CAN play music through them, and they sound great, especially the Google Home Max, there is really so much you can do with them. You can even get started using the built-in assistants on your phone to help you understand everything it can do before you jump in and buy one. I promise, once you get started, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without one!
Set reminders with your smart speaker
One of my favorite things to tell Google Home is to remember where I put something. I am CONSTANTLY putting things in places and telling myself, I’ll put it in this special place so I don’t lose it. 9 times out of 10 whenever I say that to myself, I forget that “special place” I put it! You can tell Google Home “remember that I put my business cards in my office desk drawer.” The Google Assistant will then store that information for you for when you need to recall it. Next time you are looking for your business cards, you simply ask Google to tell you where they are. You can do the same kind of thing with Alexa, but you may need to enable a skill that gives you the right functionality.
There is an Alexa skill you can enable that will go even one step further. You can tell Alexa (with this skill enabled) to add things to remember to specific tasks. For example, if you want to remember to take your lunch from the fridge on your way out the door to work, you can ask Alexa to remind you. When you are leaving for work, ask Alexa to remind you what you need for work, and she’ll list everything you’ve added, including the lunch in the fridge.
Set Timers & Alarms
Many people keep their smart speaker in the kitchen, where it is central and can help you out the most. A GREAT use for any of the devices is to set timers. If your hands are all messy from cooking, this function is especially helpful. Just ask Google or Alexa to set a timer for 10 minutes, and while you won’t get a countdown, the alarm will go off at the designated time.
Speaking of alarms, you can also set an alarm for the same time every day. This way, you can even use your smart speaker as your alarm clock in the morning.
Control Your Smart Home
Through the use of IFTTT, you can set up all kinds of functions that are specific to your house. For example, if I say “OK Google, no more TV” IFTTT will use my Harmony remote connection to turn off my TV and entertainment systems. I have also patched my Google Assistant to my WeMo plug, which has a couple lamps plugged into it. When I ask Google to turn on my lamps… they turn on!
Many IoT devices inside your home (like lights, and door locks and thermostats) can be connected through IFTTT. Once the connection is established you can program all kinds of unique commands to fit your lifestyle.
Use As An Intercom
This is one area that Alexa is doing better than the Google Home devices. With an Echo device (the device that has the Alexa assistant), you can drop in on any other Alexa devices that have the drop-in feature enabled. I can ask Alexa to drop in on my brother in Oregon, and start talking to his family. I can also drop in on my daughter upstairs and tell her to come down for dinner. With the Google devices, you can send a broadcast to all the Google Home devices on your network to call everyone to dinner, but you can not talk to a specific device… yet.
Ask It Questions
On the other hand, asking questions is where the Google Home completely destroys the Echo. The Google Assistant has access to the entire Google database and therefore is able to answer questions correctly very easily. You can ask for directions, for the closest donut shop, or ask it to pick a number or roll a die for you. Basically anything you need an answer to, you can ask Alexa or Google. They even have funny responses ready for questions like “Are you SkyNet” or “Surely, you can’t be serious”
These devices are so much fun to use. Just start using it, and you will keep finding new ways it can change your life.
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Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com