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Smart speakers beyond music

Extend the ways you use your smart Internet-connected speakers to help everyone in your family get the most out of each day.

Music is

The most common use for smart, internet-connected speakers that have infiltrated our homes in recent years – an estimated 144.3 million of them were shipped worldwide in 2019, according to data analysis company IDC.

That doesn't mean that these speakers should be used only to play music. Here are some smart new ways to integrate a smart speaker (from Google, Sonos, Apple, Amazon and others) in your daily routine and make the most of the functions that the speakers are capable of.

Having a subscription to a music service like Spotify or Apple Music will provide a connected speaker with the most music to listen to, but is not required. You can still listen to radio broadcast, podcasts, and news through your smart speaker, all for free.

Apple HomePod, Google Home and Amazon Echo devices will play local radio stations, most through partnerships with, iHeartMedia or TuneIn.

(Try saying the activating word of the speaker, followed by "Play 97.3 FM").

Recite news and weather

They're also common tasks that people ask them to do their speakers, right behind music playback, according to NPR and the Edison Reach Smart Audio Report.

But you can also get your correction of information from a daily podcast, such as "The Daily" by The New York Times or "Up First" by NPR. You don't need a subscription or an app to listen to a podcast on your connected speaker.

(Try saying the key word for the speaker, followed by "Listen to the Revisionist History podcast.")

All major smart speakers can be connected to your phone and used as a speaker. Even in the best connected offices, it is often difficult to be heard and understood on conference calls, and your smart speaker can help.

Using a HomePod Device

Google Home or Echo as a speaker has two main advantages: it is likely to have a louder speaker than your smartphone, and often a variety of multiple microphones designed to pick up hard-to-hear speech from different angles of a room

Each manufacturer has instructions on how to turn your smart speaker into a speaker phone (Here they are for Apple's HomePod, Google Home, and Amazon's Echo devices.)

Each device has its own way of connecting to your phone and contacts.

Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers connect via their apps, while Apple iPhones can connect to HomePods via AirPlay or automatically by simply holding it close to the top of the speaker.

This may not be ideal in a large corporate environment, but for smaller offices or remote setups, having a multipurpose speaker that can be used for music and other tasks, as well as a conference call speakerphone at other times, could be the ticket. to overcome poor call quality that comes with other speaker phones.

Use your Internet-connected speaker to help children reduce screen time. Instead of watching a show, you can play a soundtrack from a show or movie to make playing time easier. Getting them to listen to music or sounds from a family show or movie instead of watching it is one way to help grease the wheels for playtime or offline time to begin.

In my personal experience, putting songs from the PBS show "Peg + Cat", Netflix's "StoryBots" or "The Lego Batman Movie", would make my children focus on building a Lego set, playing with Hot Wheels or using other various toys while singing or dancing.

Playing movie soundtracks around the house can also come in handy when you've just watched a movie in theaters and want to hold onto that magic.

For parents who don't have a great understanding of «New mathematics» Or who didn't trust their school skills the first time, smart speakers are great helpers for homework.

Small disclaimer: Let children know that these assistants are tools, just as a calculator is a tool, and should be used as such. Your smart speaker shouldn't become a trick machine.

Smart speakers can help children spell and define words, and solve math problems.

In my family we use the smart speaker as a timer for fluent reading. Before it was possible to ask a smart speaker for a 60-second timer, reading for one minute took several minutes of work to figure out how to mark the time. It is also useful to set reminders or appointments, for example "Remind me to start homework at 4pm"

Playing white noise sounds is a great way to stay focused while you work. You can also use your speaker to help you sleep at night. In any situation, buying a dedicated sound machine may not sound as good as using even a low-cost Google Home Mini or Amazon Echo Dot.

The static sound of white noise may sound passable on any speaker, but the natural sounds of rain, wind, or fire need a device with decent sound quality.

For sleeping

I use my smart speaker at night to reproduce calming noises or nature sounds. There is a lot to choose from on Spotify or Apple Music; If you don't have a subscription, just ask your speaker to play something.

For example, asking Alexa on an Echo device to play nature sounds will activate an Alexa skill and attract some of the sounds.

Not all, but several speakers, including Sonos Play: 5 and Google Home Max, have audio input connectors that allow you to play sound from other devices. If your speaker has this feature, you can use it to broadcast the sound of vinyl records, for example, to other rooms in the house.

Your turntable may require a preamplifier or other equipment to connect its cables to the smart speaker's 3.5mm headphone jack, but once it does, any sounds played through the input can be connected to other speakers in your home via Wi-Fi.

With Sonos

Everything that is playing from one speaker can be grouped with other Sonos speakers within your home system.

Check your smart speaker documentation or the manufacturer's website to see if it supports connecting external audio sources.