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What Does a Smart Speaker Do?

Echo Dot, Google Mini and Alexa Echo SMart Speakers on a table together

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A smart speaker uses a virtual assistant to let you control it via your voice. You can ask questions and get answers. It can automate tasks and be used with other compatible smart home devices. These tasks include informing you of the weather, lighting the house, and many others. Their capabilities are constantly expanding.

Smart Speakers: How Do They Work?

A smart speaker’s most important feature is an intelligent virtual assistant. It can recognize and respond to voice commands. Of course, you must be understood by the speaker; otherwise, you will not be able to set reminders and schedule appointments.

Voice recognition technology is widely used by brands. All virtual assistants have different names but are activated when users say their names. When the speaker is awake, it will take your question, process it, and reply. Additionally, it will become more familiar with your accent and vocabulary over time and provide more accurate results.

Some manufacturers have two different virtual system assistants built in. This gives the users a choice of which one they want to use. For example, Google uses Google Assistant, and Apple uses Siri. Both of these can be built into one system.

Sonos are even talking of one.

Alexa Echo Smart Speaker on a table
Amazon Alexa Smart Speaker | Make Life Click

Your smart speaker’s virtual assistant plays a significant role in pairing with other smart home products, as some only work with specific brands.

Pros of a Smart Speaker

Smart speakers are good for several reasons in today’s world.

Listen to Music Anywhere

This clock-radio and music system replaces your alarm clock, clock radio, and portable stereo. So if you’re at home, you won’t drain your smartphone’s battery streaming music to Bluetooth speakers. Instead, you can listen straight from your speaker.

Availability

Smart speakers can be placed where you like in your home and you can control them with your voice. Remote controls and smartphones aren’t needed. The news is available on your phone, PC, and newspaper without you having to pick them up. It is possible to access other relevant information.

Smart Speaker Integration With Other Devices

Depending on the smart speaker model, it may be able to control other devices in the home, all via voice commands. It does not provide as much functionality as a custom-installed system. Still, smart speakers can control home activities for a lower cost.

Audio Quality

Smart speakers can compete with traditional digital music players regarding sound quality.

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Echo Dot (4th Gen, 2020 release) | Smart speaker with Alexa | Charcoal
Echo Dot (4th Gen)

Cons of a Smart Speaker

Using a smart speaker in your home may not be ideal for these reasons.

Someone is Listening to You

Can smart speakers listen to more than your commands? Some people think so, just like cameras and voice-activated TVs.

Interacting With a Device

Many people use voice commands on smartphones or smart TVs to conduct web searches. As a first-time user, it may seem alarming to talk to an electronic device and hear it respond.

Listening to Music Is All You Want

Imagine you are primarily interested in music. Any additional features, such as controlling your home’s hardware, are unnecessary. Instead, consider an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker or a platform that allows you to connect multiple rooms wirelessly.

Multi-room audio systems can be pricey. This is because they are devoted entirely to your listening pleasure.

Smart Speakers and Shopping

Keeping a household stocked with necessities can be easier with smart speakers. Apps allow you to keep track of the groceries you buy. In addition, they will enable you to order more food or other items if you run out.

Impulse purchases are made more accessible by smart speakers, but they can also facilitate window shopping. Want to remember a gift idea you had? Just talk to your smart speaker. It will add it to the list.

It is generally not worth using smart speakers just as a purchase outlet. A screen allows people to preview items before making a purchase to avoid making mistakes. It has led to online shopping becoming popular. As a result, smart speaker shopping has been slow to catch on.

Echo Dot, Google Mini and Alexa Echo Smart Speakers on a table together from the top left looking down
Echo Dot, Google Mini and Alexa Echo Smart Speakers | Make Life Click

Is it Possible to Connect a Smart Speaker to a Smart TV?

Like any smart device, a smart speaker can be connected to your smart TV. To use the speaker, simply speak to it. The speaker can be instructed to increase or decrease the volume, select a channel, or perform similar actions. Unfortunately, a few smart speakers only work with their own brand. So a particular speaker might only work with Chromecast to stream TV.

Do I Need a Smart Speaker?

It’s impossible to give a clear-cut answer to everyone. Obviously, we don’t “need” smart speakers as much as food and water. However, they are certainly helpful, mainly if you connect them to other smart devices. In addition, older family members can benefit from them, as they are simpler to use and can offer some company.

Are you convinced? You might want to pick up a cheaper, second-hand Alexa speaker to start with. Test-outs are a great way to evaluate products before you buy them.

Smart speakers increase their value by integrating other smart devices as voice control modules. A smart speaker can be integrated into an intelligent home system in the following ways:

  • Control your TV with a smart speaker combined with a Fire Stick.
  • With a lighting setup such as Hue Lights, you can create an array of ambient mood lighting just with your voice.
  • Create a daily to-do list in your smart speaker and your weather report will appear every morning.
  • Remind yourself to do things by setting appointments on your smartphone. Instead of fumbling for pens and paper, you can set reminders with voice controls.
  • You can track package deliveries with the tracking schedule. Home-based businesses will particularly benefit from this feature.
  • Call a cab or order pizza.
  • Order groceries.
  • Listen to the radio or trivia games.
  • Before you rise in the morning, record a pep talk for yourself.

Do Smart Speakers Pose Any Privacy Concerns?

Privacy and data security remain a top concern for smart speaker users. An example would be recording or listening in on consumer conversations. Voice hacking is another concern. For example, making a copy of a user’s “voiceprint” to enable access to accounts by voice.

You can prevent this by using high-security passwords to protect your Wi-Fi network. Unfortunately, hackers are always on the prowl for systems that use default passwords since they are one of the easiest methods of hacking a system.

Any connected device can be hacked, whether connected to the internet or a wireless network. This is why security is essential. It makes me chuckle that people are reluctant to purchase a smart speaker when they have Siri or Google Assistant on their smartphone. In addition, there is usually a switch for turning off microphones on most models.

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Sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black
Sonos One (Gen 2)

Conclusion

In this era of technological advancement, smart speakers possess a novelty value instead of being a necessity. Of course, it’s unnecessary to have a smart speaker to operate most smart technology (phone apps are the most popular). Still, the technology doesn’t appear to be advanced enough for people to accept it as part of their daily lives. But now that you know exactly what a smart speaker does, you can make a choice of whether you want or need one in your home.

Slava is a man of mystery and no-one seems to know exactly where he is at any point in time. When he isn't enjoying writing about all things audio and technical he can be found researching his next project of interest. The man never rests.

This post was last updated on 2022-11-27 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.


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