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Siri and Beyond: How Voice Assistants Can Enhance Your Life

What Can Voice Assistants Do for You?

Voice assistants have become increasingly popular over the past few years. However, if you’re someone who has yet to see or use a voice assistant, understanding what they are and what they do can be a little difficult.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what voice assistants are and how they can enhance your home life. We’ll go over the basics, and we’ll provide some information on some of the best voice assistants currently available.

How Voice Assistants Work

Have you ever used Siri, Google Assistant, or Bixby on your phone? If you have, you will already have had some experience with voice assistants. A voice assistant is essentially software that you can speak to and ask questions. The assistant will connect to the internet to find an answer, and then read the answer out for you.

These days, voice assistants can be included with a speaker and placed in your home, as opposed to being on your phone. Big tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google have made these kinds of voice assistant products.

When you first get your voice assistant, you’ll need to plug it in and connect it to the internet. Once it’s connected, you can switch it on and it’ll listen out for voice cues. You can say the voice assistant’s name to get its attention. For example, ‘Hey Siri’ will wake up the Apple HomePod.

Once you’ve alerted the voice assistant, you can then ask it a question. The kinds of questions you can ask a voice assistant vary greatly. We’ll talk more about this below.

Available Voice Assistant Features and Commands

There are many different things you can do with your voice assistant. Dozens of questions and commands can be directed towards a voice assistant and you’ll get a useful response back.

Here’s a look at the biggest use cases for voice assistants.

General Queries

If you’d like to know the answer to a question or want more information on a topic, you can simply ask your voice assistant. The voice assistant will then search the internet for the most relevant result, and let you know what it is.

Get Weather Details

Ask your voice assistant about the weather or the temperature, and you’ll receive accurate information for your current location.

Set an Alarm

You can tell your voice assistant to set an alarm for a certain time, and an alarm sound will play when the alarm goes off.

Check the Time

Your voice assistant can also tell you the time if you ask it to.

Create and Add Items to a Shopping List

You can tell your voice assistant to build a shopping list with different grocery items. The list will be remembered until you need it.

Find a Recipe

If you need a specific recipe, you can use the voice assistant to find one. The voice assistant will read out the steps of the recipe for you.

Play Music

You can tell your voice assistant to play music, make a playlist, and add music to a queue.

Control Smart Equipment in Your Home

If you have internet-connected lights, a thermostat, or smart plug sockets, you can use your voice assistant to turn them on or off, and adjust the settings for different things.

An Overview of the Best Voice Assistants

There are many different voice assistants on the market, and a few different big names working on the voice assistants. Currently, the most popular voice assistants come from Google, Amazon, and Apple. Here’s a brief overview of the most popular assistants from each company.

Google

Google has a range of voice assistant speakers under the Google Home range. All Google voice speakers use the Google Assistant, which is also available on all Android smartphones. Here’s a quick rundown.

Google Home Mini

The cheapest Google Home model is the Mini. This version will set you back $49. It’s the smallest speaker from Google. However, all of the functionality provided by other Google Home products is available with the Mini.

Google Home

The Google Home is the mid-range product, available for $129. This version is far larger than the Google Home Mini and it has a relatively large speaker. Once again, the same functionality is available across the Google Home and Google Home Mini.

Google Home Max

If you care about being able to play your music loudly, the Google Home Max will appeal to you. The Google Home Max is the largest Google Home product and it has the largest and highest quality speaker. The Google Home Max costs $399.

Apple

Apple currently only has one voice assistant speaker on the market: the Apple HomePod, which uses Siri as its voice assistant software.

The Apple HomePod will set you back $349, putting it in line with the Google Home Max.

For such a higher price, you do get a little more when it comes to sound quality. The Apple HomePod has a high quality speaker that beats out the Google Home, and is in-line with the Google Home Max.

The Apple HomePod is also integrated into the iOS ecosystem, so you can use the it to send messages to your iPhone contacts and to play music through Apple Music.

Amazon

Amazon was the first company to get into the world of voice assistants with the Amazon Echo. Because Amazon didn’t previously have their own voice assistant, Echo uses Alexa, an assistant that has been built from the ground up. Despite this, the Alexa assistant software is just as feature-packed as its competition.

Here’s a look at the Echo product range.

Echo Dot

The smallest Amazon Echo product on the market is the Echo Dot. The speaker in this home assistant isn’t great for music, but it works well for asking basic questions. The Echo Dot costs just $49.

Echo

The standard Echo speaker is designed to be the go-to for those looking to get the most out of Amazon’s Alexa assistant. This comes with a good quality speaker and a larger form factor for just $99.

Echo Spot

The Echo Spot is a voice assistant speaker with a display built into it. The display shows information such as the weather, the temperature, and the time. The Echo Spot can show video footage from your smart connected security system or other internet connected cameras in the home. Alternatively, you can use the screen for viewing videos and online content. The speaker is great quality, too. The Echo Spot costs $129.

Echo Show

The most expensive Echo product is the Echo Show. Available for $229, this device comes with a large display and an even larger speaker. The speaker can be used for voice calls, Amazon Prime video, and everything else the other Echo speakers are cable of.

That wraps up our overview on home voice assistants. Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about how they work and what you can do with them.