One of the main reasons our homes continue to get smarter than ever is down to the remarkable penetration of voice assistants.
After all, who doesn’t want to turn off the lights with a simple command or change channels without reaching for a remote?
Today, we’ll give you a walk-through on adding voice control to your smart home devices the easy way. This guide is angled more toward beginners than the tech-savvy so we’ll go easy on you.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be focusing on the 2 main players in the world of virtual butlers:
Alexa and Google Assistant.
In a word, convenience.
Also, given the routinely woeful audio baked into most smart speakers – there are exceptions but most are quite weak – controlling smart devices is arguably their key selling point.
As well as controlling devices independently, you can use a single voice command to control a group of smart devices.
First of all, you need to get yourself a device with your preferred voice assistant onboard. You’ll also usually need a home hub.
Think about wireless intercom system, that’s in the kitchen at all times, turning on the lights, TV and more.
We’ll run through these digital assistants in turn now and show you how to make the best use of voice control with each.
A common starting point for controlling smart voice commands is to opt for one of the impressive Amazon Echo smart speakers or smart displays.
Here’s a brief overview of the entire range:
There’s no right or wrong answer to which Echo will work best for you so focus on which best meshes with your needs and budget.
The good news is, all these devices are remarkably affordable considering the functionality delivered.
Echo Spot: A table-side alarm clock, speaker, and mini-display rolled into one. From hands-free calls to barking orders at your smart devices and appliances, Echo Spot is still going strong into its second generation
If none of these takes your fancy, you can always opt for a smart speaker from another brand.
Amazon rolled out Alexa Voice Service (AVS) which is a cloud-based service offering APIs, so third-party manufacturers can neatly interface with Alexa.
For robust functionality, we’d strongly recommend considering the Sonos One. Now into its second iteration, you’ll get a remarkably capable smart speaker with full Alexa integration.
The main benefit of using Alexa to control your smart devices is how you can get your kit working so well together.
Firstly, you’ll need a device that Works with Alexa. All compatible smart home tech will come clearly labeled with this.
You then need to set up that smart device using its own app and your home WiFi network. Instructions and installation vary from device to device so follow the instructions, and you’ll be one step closer to issuing voice commands.
With Echo Plus set aside, you’ll otherwise need to install the Alexa skills for any device you want to control with your voice.
This process is straightforward and links your Amazon account to the account of the device in question. All you’ll need is the log-in details for the device and the ability to follow simple instructions.
Just open the Skills and Games tab from the side menu in-app then you’ll be guided through adding those nifty skills.
Now it’s time to sync your devices with Alexa…
You’ve got 2 choices here:
Say “Alexa, discover my devices.”
Click Devices in the Alexa app then hit + and allow Alexa to scan your home network for compatible devices with skills in place
How about if you’re unhappy with the default names doled out to devices?
Well, there’s a straightforward renaming convention.
Again, click Devices then select the product category (lights, plugs, thermostats…)
Hit Settings then Edit Name and alter to what best suits
Grouping devices together are the key to automating your home and a breeze in-app using Alexa.
Tap Devices then +
Add Group and then Choose Smart Home Group
Select your devices and name it accordingly
This enables you, for example, to control all your downstairs lights using just one command.
Note: If you’ve already created Scenes in the native app of the smart device, don’t panic. The initial network scan will import these assuming the skills are in place.
Alexa Routines are a great way to get smart devices to behave in a certain way according to a given trigger.
Assuming Alexa has recognized the device as above, setting up Routines is a cinch…
In the Alexa app, open the side menu then click Routines > +
Create your trigger with When This Happens. Use a phrase or time as the trigger. Alternatively, base your Routine on another device doing something or pushing an Echo button
For voice control by phrase, choose which action this trigger completes
Under the From field, choose the device that controls the Routine
Hit Create and you’re ready to start using your voice to trigger synced actions
Google is Amazon’s only serious rival in the smart speaker vertical in terms of market share.
When Google Assistant first came out the blocks, you needed to choose from a trio of Google Home devices to enjoy adding voice smarts to your connected home.
If you don’t like the look of any of these, you can choose from an array of other devices with Google Assistant onboard. From Google Home Hub to the legendary Lenovo Smart Display, options continue to multiply.
As if that wasn’t enough, there are also an enormous number of smart devices that come with Google Assistant fully baked in or are at least compatible with this punchy voice assistant.
You’ll need to grab yourself the agile Google Home app first. This is available on both iOS and Android, and it’s a free download.
As with Alexa, you’ll need to set up your smart device in its native app before adding voice control with Google Assistant.
Go to the home screen of Google Home.
Click Add then choose Set up device then you need Have something already set up?
All partner brands will populate a list. Choose the brand name in question
Log in using your credentials for that device. The specific device will pop up
On the following screen, you’ll be able to add these devices to a given Room
With these very user-friendly steps nailed, voice control couldn’t be simpler…
Either tap the device in-app on Google Home or speak within range of your smart speaker or third-party Google Assistant device. You can now control your smart devices hands-free.
We hope you’ve seen just how easy it is to get up and running with your digital assistant of choice.
Whether you’re an Alexa and Google Assistant, adding voice control is simple. Using it is even easier, great fun and the ultimate in convenience.