Home Education What is a Smart Speaker?

What is a Smart Speaker?

By Marc Saltzman, AARP

Let Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod or Google Home become your smart home hub

More than 53 million adults in the United States now own about 120 million voice-activated smart speakers.
That represents 78 percent year-over-year growth, according to a report this year from NPR and Edison Research.
In a word, wowza.
As you likely know, these relatively inexpensive devices — from Amazon, Apple and Google — have a microphone that hears your question or command and delivers a human-like response through its speaker.
“There has never been a more natural way to communicate with technology than using your voice,” says Katherine Prescott, founder and editor of VoiceBrew. “There’s something so magical about these devices, like we’re living in the future.”
Her digital media company is dedicated to helping people get the most out of Amazon Echo products with articles, blog posts and email newsletters.
Amazon’s assistant is named Alexa, Apple’s is Siri, and Google’s is simply Google Assistant.
But though you’re probably aware that you can ask these speakers questions — such as “What’s the capital of Spain?” or “How many quarts make up a liter?” or “How far is Miami Beach from Boca Raton?” — these virtual helpers are more than just an always-available librarian.
Here are a handful of things to try, from controlling your smart home devices and making calls to setting reminders and playing games.
Features may vary slightly among Amazon, Apple and Google speakers.
Smart home control
As long as your smart home devices support smart speakers, and many of them do, you can control your home using your voice. Examples include August locks, Nest thermostats and Philips Hue lightbulbs.
Amazon Echo
To get going on an Amazon Alexa speaker, go to the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet and tap the three little lines in the top left corner.
Now select Skills & Games and tap the magnifying glass to search for the product you have, such as “Hue,” “Ring,” “August,” “Nest” and so on. Tap Enable to Use, and follow any other instructions in the app, such as signing into an account tied to that camera, light or thermostat.

y, Siri,” or “OK, Google”  — followed by your request, such as “At 8 a.m. tomorrow, remind me to take out the recycling.” You can use it as an alarm to set a wake-up time every day and use it as an oven timer to help you in the kitchen.




Remember what? 
This one works only with Google Home speakers.
Your Google Assistant can help you remember where you left things. Say something like “OK, Google, remember my passport is in the top drawer.” When you need it in the future, ask “Where’s my passport?” and “she” will tell you where it is.
Neat, eh? This little-known trick does not work with Amazon Alexa or Apple’s Siri, at least not yet.
Play games
Bored? Amazon and Google devices let you play voice-enabled games.
For example, you can say “OK, Google, let’s play trivia” and you’ll be asked how many people want to play. Or “Alexa, play the Magic Door,” for a solo adventure game.
In some cases, you may be asked to install an Alexa Skill first in the app, but many of the games work simply by asking for them. Thousands of games are available, and most are free.
A fun 20 Questions-like game is called Akinator, which works with both Amazon and Google.
As you can see or, rather, hear, your smart speaker is capable of a lot more than just serving as a cyber encyclopedia.
You can ask to play one of 50 million songs from your favorite music streaming service; order an Uber or Lyft by asking for it; create a shopping list or even order items online to be delivered to your door; and if you can’t find your phone, you can ask some speakers to make it ring loudly even if it’s on silent. You get the idea.
Part of the fun is experimenting, too, such as asking for audiobooks, jokes, podcasts and stories.
Marc Saltzman has been a freelance technology journalist for 25 years. His podcast Tech It Out aims to break down geek speak into street speak.


Como funciona los altavoces inteligentes?

Los altavoces inteligentes pueden ser mucho más que tu enciclopedia favorita

Deja que Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod o Google Home se conviertan en tu centro de hogar inteligente.
Más de 53 millones de adultos en Estados Unidos ahora son dueños de alrededor de 120 millones de altavoces inteligentes activados con la voz.
Eso representa un crecimiento del 78% año tras año, según un informe de este año de NPR y Edison Research.
En una palabra, impresionante.
Como probablemente sabes, estos dispositivos relativamente económicos —de Amazon, Apple y Google— tienen un micrófono que escucha tu pregunta o comando, y ofrecen una respuesta similar a lo que contestaría un humano a través de un altavoz.
“Nunca ha habido una forma más natural de comunicarse con la tecnología que mediante tu voz”, señala Katherine Prescott, fundadora y editora de VoiceBrew. “Hay algo mágico en estos dispositivos, como si viviéramos en el futuro”.
Su compañía de medios digitales se dedica a ayudar a las personas a aprovechar al máximo los productos de Amazon Echo con artículos, publicaciones en blogs y boletines por correo electrónico.
El asistente de Amazon se llama Alexa, el de Apple es Siri y el de Google es simplemente Google Assistant.
Pero aunque probablemente sabes que puedes hacer preguntas a estos altavoces —como “¿Cuál es la capital de España?” o “¿Cuántos cuartos de galón hay en un litro?” o “¿A qué distancia está Miami Beach de Boca Ratón?”— estos ayudantes virtuales son más que un simple bibliotecario siempre disponible.
Son varias las cosas que puedes hacer, como controlar tus dispositivos domésticos, hacer llamadas, configurar recordatorios y jugar juegos.
Las funciones pueden variar ligeramente entre los altavoces de Amazon, Apple y Google.
Control inteligente del hogar
Siempre que tus dispositivos domésticos inteligentes sean compatibles con altavoces inteligentes, y muchos de ellos lo son, puedes controlar tu hogar utilizando tu voz. Los ejemplos incluyen cerraduras August, termostatos Nest y bombillas Philips Hue.
Amazon Echo
Para comenzar con un altavoz Alexa de Amazon, dirígete a la aplicación Alexa en tu teléfono inteligente o tableta, y pulsa las tres líneas pequeñas en la esquina superior izquierda.
Ahora selecciona Skills y juegos y pulsa la lupa para buscar el producto que tienes, como “Hue”, “Ring”, “August”, “Nest”, etc. Pulsa Activar y sigue cualquier otra instrucción en la aplicación, como iniciar sesión en una cuenta vinculada a esa cámara, luz o al termostato.

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