In our previous blog posts we discussed how smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home can add voice-control to most of your smart appliances. As a reminder, smart speakers can be loaded with ‘skills’ that are just like apps for your smart hub – once you download the right skill, you can control your appliances with your voice.
You might have been tempted by the convenience of starting your kettle from the couch or checking the weather forecast for the day but there are thousands more uses for your humble smart speaker.
From this pile of utility we have pulled five of the most ingenious ways to use voice in your home.
1. Find Your Phone
Misplacing your phone around your home is a minor pain that most of us endure for a few minutes a week and asking someone to call your phone isn’t always an option. Amazon Alexa and Google Home both offer a ‘Find My Phone’ skill as standard.
You will need to register your smartphone on your Alexa or Google account in order to avail of this service but it’s a straightforward process following some on-screen instructions on your smartphone. Google’s Find My Phone can help you to locate your device anywhere, inside or outside your home. If you have an Amazon device, allowing Alexa to access your phonebook will let you use Amazon’s Find My Phone skill to call any mobile phone in your phonebook using your voice.
2. Rush Out the Door
With devices like your lights, heating, home security and smart plugs set up on your smart home network, you can run out the door with a few less things to worry about.
Your smart speaker can switch off all of your devices and enable your alarm. You can even set up your smart speaker to list all of the changes it has made to the status of each device - “Lights off, heating set to auto” etc. - for extra peace of mind.
3. Plan Your Route
You may want to check traffic and plan your route before you leave home. Your smart speaker can give you directions and tell you about traffic flow, road works or anything else you need to know before you set off.
Once you are on the road, Google Home can send your planned route to your Android smartphone or tablet without downloading any skills and with minimal setup. Amazon Alexa requires a skill to be loaded to your Echo device but this is straightforward, after that there is similarly little setup time involved.
4. Release Your Inner Chef
Right out of the box, you can set multiple timers on your smart speaker with your device making a note of each timer. For instance, you can instruct your assistant to “Set a timer for the chicken in 45 minutes and to turn the potatoes in 25 minutes”. Your smart speaker will then tell you to turn the spuds when the time comes and then remind you how long is left until the chicken is done.
Your smart speaker can also help you with any recipe - whether it has been bought specially for the occasion or suggested to you based on your pantry. By downloading cooking assistant skills, you can fetch recipes based on what’s already in the fridge. Upon hearing what ingredients you have, Alexa or Google can suggest dishes to make with brief summaries of preparation time and difficulty.
Once you decide whether you need to run to the shop or work with what you have, your smart speaker can save your chosen recipe(s) until you are ready to cook.
5. Movie Night
With a little ambition, you can set up the perfect environment for a film by simply uttering a few phrases. By setting up a profile on your living room lighting setup, a profile on your smart speakers or sound system and connecting your smart TV to your network, you can set yourself up for the perfect night in.
Popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video allow you to voice-search by genre, actor, year or director. You can even use your smart speaker to compile a list of ‘must-watches’ ready to go next time you sit down in your very own smart cinema.
So that’s five areas of your home life you can take to the next level using just your voice and the power of a smart home. All you need is the right set of devices, and the ‘skills’ to make it happen.