The terms Smart Speaker and Smart Speaker are already familiar to a large group of people. Research shows that 17% of people in the Europe already know what the term means. Only 5% of European households have a Smart speaker at home. This equates to millions of households. In this article we will further discuss what it actually is. What are the functions, advantages and what is the best choice. These and more questions will be answered in this article.
The Meaning of a Smart Speaker
A Smart Speaker is a smart speaker that serves as a virtual assistant. With this smart speaker you can do various things such as controlling your smart lighting, ordering food online or providing information about questions you ask ”.
The functions of a Smart Speaker
A Smart speaker has more functions than just playing music. These functions may differ with smart speakers. There are no official industry standards that qualify a speaker as a smart speaker. We assume the following functions:
The format of a smart speaker must be compact. You can place this speaker anywhere in the house. The kitchen counter, the bedside table or just next to your smart TV . There are smart speakers in all shapes and sizes, with the largest smart speaker being the Google Home Max. This is a larger version of the Google Home. The dimensions of this Google Home are max: 190 mm high and 336 mm wide.
- Playing music
The name of the product actually says that it should be able to play music like any normal speaker. The normal speakers can be connected to your stereo, for example, smart speakers are independent and need their own power supply to function. With many smart speaker brands it is possible to connect multiple devices. So you can play the same music at different locations in your house or everyone has the option of their own music.
- Connected to the internet
A smart speaker is only smart if it can connect to the internet. This often happens via the WiFi home network. Often you will need WiFi for installation to help you through the installation process.
- Streaming music
In addition to playing music, the internet connection via the WiFi home network gives you the option of streaming music. This does depend on the make and model.
- Bluetooth support
A smart speaker may also have Bluetooth support. Not every smart speaker has this. This also applies to the Google Home and Amazon Echo.
- Voice control
This is one of the most important functions of a smart speaker. A smart speaker has built-in microphones. With these built-in microphones you can use voice control to give commands to the speaker, such as Google Commands . The smart speaker can then perform this (depending on what you ask of course). An example is: what is the weather, what is the value of the gold share, can you turn up the heating, can the volume of the smart TV be lower, etc.
- Virtual home assistant
In addition to speech recognition, the most important function is the virtual home assistant. This assistant has access to all your smart devices. For example, you have the option to work the smart speaker together with your smart TV, thermostat, smart lighting, smart plugs, etc. Google Home and Amazon Echo also work with third-party control devices. Another example is that the Apple HomePod only works with Apple Home Kit accessories.
The benefits of a Smart Speaker
The Google Home, Amazon Echo, Sonos One and Homey have a number of advantages. Some of these benefits are:
- No wires to connect to your sound system
An advantage of a smart speaker is that you don’t need any wires to connect it to your current sound system. This works wirelessly. As long as the smart speakers are placed within transmission range, they are connected to the sound system. This also makes them popular for outdoor use during the summer.
- Answering questions
How useful is it if you do not know something or if you want to look up a recipe for a particular dish, for example, that you can simply ask the smart speaker. Thanks to its built-in voice assistant you will receive answers to your questions.
- Voice control
Answering questions is done by the voice control. This voice control makes a smart speaker very interesting to have at home. So you can give commands to your other smart devices, if they are connected to each other.
- Can serve as a Smart Home Hub
A smart speaker can serve as a smart home hub. The platform that connects all your smart devices and lets them talk to each other. Three examples of this are the Google Home, Homey and the Homey Pro.
- Music player You
used to have a Sonos speaker or perhaps a stereo system. With Sonos, you now also have the option to use it as a smart speaker with its built-in Assistants. This uses the technology of Google to also use voice control.
- Streaming music and video
Another advantage is that you can stream music and video to your laptop, tablet or television. This can be done by casting devices by voice commands. So you need a Chromecast, TV with Chromecast built-in or an Android TV. If you have an Android TV, you must set the Google Assistant to it. You can then link the TV with the Google Home app and the voice commands for streaming will work.
- Set timer
Are you doing a sports workout at home and don’t want to keep an eye on the time yourself? Let your smart speaker do it and set a timer. That way you make life a lot easier!
If you have a Google Home as a smart speaker, you can also call your family members .
Which Smart Speaker is right for you
The first thing to consider when buying a smart speaker is: which smart home devices do I already have?
Most of them are often platform independent. They work with both the Android devices and the iOS devices. But the Apple HomePod is an exception. This can only be used with an Apple Device.
It may also be that you already have a certain ecosystem that you run many of your devices on. If you use a lot of Google Products (Gmail, Google Calendar etc), it may be an option for you to buy a Google Speaker. This works with the Google Assistant , your smart assistant.
You don’t just buy a smart speaker for its speech recognition and integrated voice assistant. Ultimately, it’s all about the sound quality that comes out of the speaker. This is where the big difference arises. Most smart speakers have well-integrated voice assistants, but the quality is not equally good for every speaker. The smaller slim speakers are often cheaper. They are therefore often more limited in their sound quality. Later in this article we will discuss the best smart speaker of 2020.
What should you pay attention to when purchasing a Smart Speaker
We have already mentioned that a bit above. There are four points to consider when purchasing:
- Which platform are you going to use
- Which platforms can the device work with?
- What is the sound quality
- The smart speaker has an integrated voice assistant
A fifth point can of course be the price, depending on the wallet you can make a choice here.
Which brands sell Smart Speakers
Below are the brands and products that can be purchased in the Europe physically or via web shops:
- Google Nest: Google Home, Google Nest Mini, Google Nest Hub, Google Home Max
- Harman Kardon: Harman Kardon Citation 300
- Sonos: Sonos One, Sonos One SL, Sonos Move
- Amazon: Amazon Echo
- Apple: Apple HomePod
- Yamaha: Yamaha WX-10
- Bose: Bose Home Speaker
- LG: LGWK7
- Athom: Homey, Homey Pro
If we have forgotten a brand of it, let us know!
Best Choice Smart Speaker of 2020
Read the best Smart speakers at the moment here.
Security & privacy
Smart speakers are great products, but people are still afraid of using these products. It often emerges in the news that the smart speakers are listening in or are afraid of becoming a victim of voice hacking. This means that voices are recorded and imitated by the user. This allows the underlying gmail accounts to be used.
One of the main reasons why products or email accounts are hacked is bad passwords. If you have robust passwords, it is almost impossible for your accounts to be hacked. Unless Google or Sonos get hacked, but those chances are pretty slim. Have you always been a fanatic swimmer and do you have the password: Dolfijn2020 or the name of your child and his date of birth, then those are fairly simple passwords. Strong passwords contain lowercase letters, uppercase letters, special characters and numbers mixed together such as Hc * / # 8nC1; pO.
Standard passwords are therefore much easier to obtain than the above password.
Is being monitored with my Smart Speaker
The major tech companies including Google, Amazon and Apple listen in with the smart assistants when they are activated, at least that was the case in the past. So they did not continuously listen. Google and Apple have stopped doing this, so this data sharing is no longer there.
In the past, these companies have listened in order to improve the smart assistants. Here we only listened to questions that were asked, but where it was not understood whether the assistant did not understand exactly what was meant and with recordings where the this was activated without first clearly saying the activation sentence, including: “Hey Google ”.
Listen in to noise
Last year there was a fuss about this, because these tech companies had not indicated this in advance. At this moment, listening in to improve the product has stopped, unless you indicate that you allow this in the use.
With the Google Assistant and Alexa, you can also turn off listening yourself. This can be done under activity options and then turn off speech and audio activity. If you have it with Amazon Alexa, you can do so under the Alexa privacy page.
Analyzing the data if you allow it is used to improve the product. The smart assistants are getting smarter as a result, but you have the option to turn it off!