Smart Speakers Explained: Alexa, Is This Thing On?

By now, you’ve likely heard of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and/or Google Home. However, you may be wondering if they’re really all that useful. These devices are connected to the internet and you can interact with them using simple, natural voice commands. And, yes, these smart gadgets are surprisingly useful – you can even think of them as robotic butlers of sorts.

Smart Speaker

What They Do

While both of these devices have readily usable features, their full capabilities depend on how wired your home is. You can speak to them to make requests or ask questions. For instance, you might say, “Alexa, play some music,” or “ok, Google, what’s the temperature outside?”

You can ask for specific songs and artists, genres, or playlists. You can also set timers, alarms, and reminders, get the news, ask for recipes, or even play games. They can tell jokes, look up information, and the list goes on and on. New skills are being released all the time, too.

In a connected home, you can use the same sort of voice commands to control your lights, thermostat, and more.

Which is Better?

Whether you decide to invest in an Amazon or Google device really depends on your individual needs. While Alexa may have more skills, Google is better at searching for information. The costs between the two are pretty comparable for similar devices.

When comparing devices, you should consider what aspects are most appealing to you. If you use Amazon frequently, it can be quite convenient to re-order products with voice commands. For instance, you may realize you’re out of laundry detergent. With the Amazon Echo, you can simply say, “Alexa, re-order laundry detergent.” Alexa will check your Amazon order history for laundry detergent and verify that you’d like to buy more.

Google has more robust search capabilities, however, if you just want to be able to ask lots of questions.

If you want voice-activated home automation, it’s wise to check device compatibility with both speakers.