22nd Century City Living

Home Assistants


Oh boy, home assistants! It started with Apple and Siri, and once people got used to asking her questions, they found her to be really helpful. Google came out with their assistant, Microsoft has Cortana, and Samsung made Bixby. It is a feature that most of us couldn’t live without at this point.

Enter the stand-alone smart speaker: Amazon and their helpful Alexa, which is in just about everything they make now: kindles, fire tv, and their apps. Google’s got the Google Home. Apple HomePod is newer in the market, as is the Harman Kardon speaker, which uses Cortana.

People always ask me what smart speaker is best. Amazon used to pretty much have the market cornered – their Alexa worked with just about anything you could possibly want: smart thermostats, smart tvs, smart switches, even security systems. The list went on and on. But Google and Apple are catching up, so it really depends on what you want it to do.

First thing you should think about is whether or not you have a big investment in any of these ecosystems. For example, if 99% of your music collection is in iTunes and you want it to play music, you will get the best use out of a HomePod. If you’re constantly ordering things on Amazon, then you would benefit from getting the Alexa speaker. If you’ve got Chromecast, the Google Home would be best for you.

Second, you should check compatibility with the things you have. Think about what you want to do and then see what devices will give you that ability. If you’ve got a smartTV, it might only work with one brand of device. If you want to be able to control your smart thermostat, then you have to check and see what it will work with. If the sound quality is something you’re interested in, there are speaker companies that add smart assistants. You’re not stuck buying the generic one these companies offer. You can also make your decision based on price or by size – maybe you need a speaker that will fit somewhere small, be portable, or you want something big that will create a lot of sound. Maybe you want units that will all work together like an intercom system. It is something else to consider when you are deciding which brand to select.

Really, though, you’ll be surprised at how often you end up using one! I thought I would use mine just to play music. Now I can control my TV with it, it adds things to my shopping list for me so I can check it when I go to the store and buy everything I need, and it controls the main lights in my house. It also works my thermostat. I just keep finding things that are smart and adding them to my collection of devices. It really makes life easy. It sort of feels like I’m living in the future when I can just say out loud that I want the room cooler and – tada – it just happens.

Pretty great, don’t you think?