Ever since the “smart home assistant” or “smart speaker” (those Google and Echo devices) first came out, there have been more and more commands, apps, devices, and appliances that work with them. There are even neat things you can do with more than one in your home!
Here are 20 things we found that you can do with your Alexa or Google Home that seemed pretty cool. In the examples, we use “Alexa” but you can just as easily substitute “Hey Google” if you have a Google Home product.
1. Get the weather.
“Alexa, what’s the weather today?”
You’ll get a verbal report of today’s weather for your area. You can also include a different city if you are traveling and want a different weather report.
2. Look up a phone number
“Alexa, what’s the phone number for Tri-County Communications in Strum, Wisconsin?”
This is really helpful when you need to contact a business. Instead of going on your phone, tablet, or computer and searching for the business to find their phone number, just ask your smart assistant and it will fetch it for you in a snap! Along with the phone number, you can ask your assistant for store hours, location and more!
3. Find out who sings that song or is in that TV show
“Alexa who sings…?”
Have you ever had that where you can’t think of who sings a song or is in that movie or TV show? Instead of taking the time to find a device and typing in your request, just call out to your personal assistant and it will tell you!
4. Make your grocery list on your smartphone.
“Alexa, add eggs to my grocery list.”
It’s really nice that you can create shopping lists on your smartphone but it’s cumbersome to have to type all the items into your list. That’s where your Echo or Google Home comes in! No more typing, just ask your smart assistant to add the items for you while you browse through your refrigerator and cupboards — just like having someone writing it down for you!
5. Set a quick timer while you’re cooking or exercising.
“Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes.”
In the kitchen, it’s nice to have an easy-to-use timer to keep track of the things you have on the stove or in the oven. While your stove usually has a timer, it probably has just one. With your Google Home or Echo, you can not only set a single timer quickly and easily but you can set multiple timers at the same time. So if you want to set a 7 minute timer for your pasta and a 12 minute timer for broccoli, your smart home device can manage them both at the same time!
And if you’re exercising, the last thing you want to do is keep playing with a timer, setting it and resetting it, while you do your exercises. Instead, just call out to your assistant “Alexa set a timer for 2 minutes” or “Hey Google, set a timer for 4 minutes”
6. Get the scores or find out when your favorite team is playing next.
“Alexa, when do the Brewers play next?”
7. Play music
“Alexa, play Bodeans channel on Pandora”
Your smart speaker can play a variety of music from your smartphone or tablet, online radio, Pandora, iHeart, Sirius XM, YouTube, and more! Just tell it what app you want it to access and the name of the channel, artist, or song!
8. “Dinner’s ready!”
If you have more than one Echo or Google product in your home, you can tell one smart assistant to communicate to people in your house through the other smart assistants like a “whole house intercom.” This means you don’t have to yell or find everyone to spread a message. Have your home assistant tell everyone for you!
9. Get a “fact of the day” (or more!) from Curiosity.com.
Impress your friends or coworkers or just take pride in yourself for learning something each day.
10. Get step-by-step instructions for getting out certain stains or cooking certain foods.
“Alexa, access Tide to get out chocolate stains” or “Alexa, access All Recipes for how to roast red potatoes”
Cleaning companies and cooking/recipe companies setup their databases to be accessible through virtual assistants who will give you verbal steps for cleaning/cooking your request.
11. Create a “choose your own adventure” story using Earplay
“Alexa start Earplay”
Do you remember those “choose your own adventure” books where at the end of each chapter you could decide where the story would go next? Well, you can experience that again through your Echo or Google Home using apps (skills) like Earplay!
12. Play “Trivia Hero” quiz game
Whether you just want to challenge yourself or make a game of it with friends, it’s fun and easy to play trivia games through your Echo or Google Home device. With Trivia Hero, it will call out the questions and you shout back the answers!
13. Find recipes, send them to your tablet/phone and even hear step-by-step instructions.
“Alexa how do I make a pizza crust?”
Your home assistant can access a large library of recipe websites and databases to help you in the kitchen. While you ask for a general recipe or request one from a particular source, your home assistant is a great go-to! Not only do you get the recipes, but your assistant will verbally communicate the steps or even send them to your phone or tablet so you can read them.
14. Create a routine triggered by a phrase.
You can “layer” your commands so by saying one command, you can have your home assistant do multiple things. For example, you can setup “Alexa Bedtime” to turn off certain lights (smart lights/outlets), turn on a preset alarm, lock your smart door lock, and turn down your smart thermostat.
15. Make long distance calls to other Echo users.
If a friend or family member has an Amazon Echo, you can place “calls” to their Echo and you can talk back and forth like you are on a phone for free over your Wi-Fi. Since it’s a speaker/speakerphone, several people can join you in the conversation.
16. Set timed reminders for yourself.
It may seem basic, but little reminders during the day can really help! From remembering to record a show to remembering to pick up a family member.
17. Change a (smart) thermostat by voice command.
“Alexa turn the Nest thermostat to seventy”
If you are at home and you have a smart thermostat, you don’t have to find or turn on your phone or tablet — just ask Alexa to change your smart thermostat!
18. Turn your (smart) lights on or off by voice command.
In the same way you can control a smart thermostat with your voice through Alexa, you can do the same with any smart devices including lights, outlets, appliances, and security devices.
19. Control your Amazon Firestick.
“Alexa open Netflix on Amazon Firestick; play MacGuyver”
Having an Amazon Echo in your house gives you instant voice control of your Amazon Firestick! No more “typing” by finding letters on the screen– just say what you want to open and what you want to watch.
20. Easter Eggs
“Alexa, surely you can’t be serious”
Easter Eggs are lines from movies, TV shows, and songs pre-programmed into Echoes for a bit of fun. Look online for “alexa easter eggs” or try to guess them by telling Alexa popular lines from movies and songs.