Hands-free tech you need to get your hands on
Voice assistants are powerful hands-free tech that have new features almost every week. So why aren’t you using them more? Maybe you don’t know what to do with them. Well, it’s not as difficult as you think. We break it all down for you below.
What is a voice assistant?
Voice-activated assistants are innocuous little digital assistants that live in your smartphone or smart speaker. Think Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Apple Home. While you go about your day, these AI-based assistants sit in your pocket or maybe perched on your windowsill, waiting to be called upon. Once they hear a command from you, they interpret it and take action. What kind of actions you ask? They can start a shopping list, provide directions, kick off an email, find lost phones and turn on lights, just to name a few.
Where can I get one?
Voice assistants come pre-installed in smartphones, so if you have an Apple iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy, you’re good to go. But smartphones aren’t the only place these helpful assistants hang out. They can also be found in the increasingly popular smart speaker. Amazon Alexa is housed in Amazon’s Echo Dot, while Google Assistant works with the Google Nest wifi router and voice assistant.
How do I use them?
This voice recognition tech that powers your digital assistant makes it possible for you to speak to your smartphone or smart audio device, and it will act upon what is being said. Simply ‘wake’ your assistant by using the prompt associated with your voice assistant of choice. For example:
- Amazon’s Alexa system waits for its default wake word, “Alexa”; and
- Google Assistant wakes on hearing “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google.”
This is where we could explain how on activation, the voice assistant’s system records whatever is being said, then sends the speech file to the cloud for processing, before a response chimes out of your smart device, but that would only confirm your suspicions that voice assistants are overly complex and difficult to use.
Rather than bore you with algorithms and speech pattern talk, just trust us that once your voice assistant is awoken, you can then ask a question or issue a command and your voice assistant will provide a response or action your request. It’s that simple.
The more you use your voice-activated assistant the more familiar it becomes with your voice and how you use words. By learning how you speak, it is able to provide a better service.
Now, you’re clever digital assistant’s reach isn’t just limited to the one smartphone or smart audio device that you submit your command to. With Google Nest Wifi Router and Voice Assistant, you can broadcast an audio message to every Google Assistant-equipped device in your home. So when it comes to dinner time, instead of yelling from the base of the stairs “Dinner’s ready” to your teenagers upstairs, whose blaring music drowns out your voice anyway, their smart speakers can pause their music and chime “Dinner’s ready”. All you need to say to your Google Assistant is “Hey Google, broadcast dinner’s ready” and your vocal chords will thank you.
If you find there are times when it isn’t convenient to talk to your voice assistant, you can always text them! On Google Assistant you can convey your command by text, just tap the keyboard on your Android device and type your question or command. Even Amazon Alexa is getting on board, with Amazon recently confirming to The Verge that ‘Type with Alexa’ is a public preview feature now available to iOS Alexa app customers in the US.
So, when it’s that simple, why wouldn’t you use a voice assistant to make your life a little easier?