Taking the plunge into smart home tech? Since a smart speaker lets you control other smart tech with your voice, this is naturally where most people start. If all this new tech is hard to wrap your head around, we’ve broken down what smart speakers do and looked at their best features to help you out.
It’s amazing how much a smart speaker can do! By just asking, it’ll help manage your hectic week, add stuff to your shopping list and play a game with you. And the list goes on (and on and on…)
Some speakers, like the Google Nest Hub, come with a screen too. So, when you ask for a recipe or the weather forecast, it can actually show you the results, as well as telling you.
If you’re into your tunes, you might want to check out all their sound tech. The likes of the Google Nest Hub Max and Echo Studio have some epic features that’ll wrap you up in all your favourite songs.
They connect to other compatible smart tech too, letting you turn your smart lights on or look who’s at the door, just by asking the voice assistant. When it comes to choosing which one you want, keep in mind any other tech you’d like and make sure that they’re compatible.
From our phones to TVs, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri are all around us these days, including in our smart speakers. They’re all very similar, but here’s a few things we love about each brand.
Amazon have a range of speakers for putting in different spaces around the home, so you’ll be able to find the perfect one for sitting by your bedside or on the kitchen shelf. Alexa is amazing for shopping with too, as you can just ask it to add toilet roll to your weekly list, or re-order the dog food.
Since Google Assistant is linked to our most-used search engine, there’s not many trivial questions it won’t be able to answer. The speakers recognise different voices too, meaning everyone in the house (up to 6 people) can add events to personal calendars, or access their own playlists on their streaming account.
The sleek modern design of Apple’s HomePod looks amazing in any room. The high-quality speakers stream Apple Music and blast out all your playlists, making them perfect for anyone that’s into their tunes.
Amazon Echo Show 5 with Alexa - 5.5" Screen - Sandstone
Google Nest Hub Max with Google Assistant - 10" Screen - Charcoal
Lenovo Smart Clock with Google Assistant - 4" Screen - Grey
Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) with Clock Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa -...
There’re hundreds of things that smart speakers can do! To name a few, you can ask the speakers questions and tell them to do all kinds of things, like check the weather or set a timer. They can also connect to streaming apps, pump out all your music, and hook up to other smart tech. If you have a few, they’ll even all sync together, letting you announce that dinner’s ready to your teenager hiding out in their room.
There’re so many smart speakers out there it’s so hard to choose – we feel your pain. But it all depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re just wanting something small and discrete, you might want to check out the Echo Dot or Nest Mini range, while the Nest Hub and Echo Show are perfect if you’re looking for a speaker with a screen too. Or, if music is important to you, the Apple HomePod, Nest Hub Max, and Echo Studio might be more up your street.
Yes, as the smart speakers connect to your smartphone, you can ask the speaker to call your friend at any time.
Smart speakers are always listening out for their wake word, like ‘Alexa’, ‘Okay Google’ and ‘Hey Siri’, so they know when you’re talking to them, but that doesn’t mean they’re taking in all the family gossip from Aunt Carol’s 50th. Most speakers come with mute buttons now too, which you can press at any time if you’re worried about the speaker hearing a top secret conversion.
The Google Home has now been rebranded to the Google Nest speaker. Google’s range of smart speakers let you ask them to do all kinds of things like, ‘set a reminder to send a card for Sophie’s 6th birthday’ or ‘check the weather forecast for tomorrow’. They’ll even connect to other compatible tech around the home, like a smart thermostat, so you can make your house toasty by asking the speaker to give it a boost.
No, there’s not a monthly fee to use a Google Nest speaker (the rebranded name of the Google Home).
The list of tech that’s compatible with Google smart speakers is so big and still growing. Devices to note are obviously everything in Google’s smart range, including Nest cameras, thermostats, and doorbells. When it comes to smart lights, Philips Hue and TP-Link both work with Google Assistant. Electricals, like some of the latest TVs and ovens are compatible too.
Amazon Echo is the name of the smart speaker, while Alexa is the voice assistant built inside.
This all depends on what you’re looking for. The Echo Dot won’t take up much room and will sit on a shelf waiting to help, while the Echo Show has a screen that’ll bring up pictures and videos to help answer your questions. Or there’s the Echo Studio which has better speakers to wrap you up in your favourite music.
Amazon are constantly expanding their Echo speaker range so that they can lend a hand wherever you are. The Dot is what everyone has in their mind when they think of a smart speaker, but there’s also so many more. The Echo Show has an interactive screen that’ll bring up photos, videos and search results, while the high-quality speakers in the Echo Studio will be music to your ears. Echo Flex is a voice assistant that sits in a plug socket, Echo Auto lends a hand in the car, and Echo Buds will keep you company while you’re out.
First, you’ll need to download the free Alexa app to your phone or tablet. Once you’ve done this and plugged in the speaker, open ‘More’ in the app and click ‘Add device’. You’ll then just need to flick through the menu to find the speaker you’ve bought and follow the set-up instructions on your phone screen.