Two questions to ask if you're considering an Echo or Google Home:
Do you enjoy music or radio?
Do you want a hands-free experience?
If you answered yes to these, try out a smart speaker!
Below you'll find the many reasons why I’m no longer a skeptic.
Hands-free is huge.
Whether you’re getting dressed, doing dishes, rolling out pizza dough or journaling, you don’t have to be bothered with cords, screens, batteries, buttons or volume knobs.
Searching for the new sound
I sat next to someone on a plane who didn’t care for music. (What?!) Okay, he admitted to reading a lot of books. That’s fair, not everyone wants to be constantly listening to music. I welcome a variety of music from all genres into my home.
For test driving new music, Google Music is a great way to explore and is free on Google smart speakers.
To identify a song you want to remember, check the app or ask the speaker “Hey Google, What’s playing?”
Audiobooks on the Echo?
Apps and Smart Homes?
These speakers are “smart” is for a few reasons.
They use AI to understand voice commands and they also talk to the internet of things: network connected devices throughout your life.
Setup can be a small hurdle, but the result is delightful.
“Alexa, turn off living room lights.”
They're for the curious, engaged mind
There’s an Alexa skill for that.
Amp it up
Take advantage of a bluetooth speaker or the aux-out port on an Echo Dot to easily attach a better speaker output. The Echo Dot's speaker is tinny and poor quality for music.
Make Phone Calls?
Yes, but not emergency calls. You need to import your contacts for this, which I have not tried for the sake of maintaining tighter privacy.
Games for parents and kids
Rest easy (with your data)
You might wind down with Amazon Music's relaxing nature sounds or a warm fireplace crackle.
For me, winding down and resting easy means having knowledge about where the data lives.
A healthy skepticism helped me realize that everything which is recorded is made available to you, the user.
Within the app, which should be password protected on your phone, you may see commands issued, listen to what was recorded, and erase voice activity. Only audio recorded after a "wake word" is kept.
For extra peace of mind, find the microphone mute button which is on every device.
For Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Show, Amazon Spot, Amazon Alexa