If you’ve heard about the rise of voice controlled speakers, and wondered what they can do for you in your home, the answer is—a lot. Meant as personal digital assistants, speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo and Echo Dot can make your life more hands-free.

Google Home was the first voice-controlled speaker in Canada (then later came Home Mini). Meant for Android users, it’s nonetheless somewhat compatible with your life even if you run different operating systems.

Amazon Echo and the smaller Dot are brand new to Canada, though they’ve enjoyed immense popularity stateside.

How a voice controlled speaker can save your day

Personal digital assistants are speakers at their core, but they’re operated with your voice. You can get music playing just by saying, “Alexa, play some rock”. Here’s some other ways these cloud-based butlers can help you.

1. Save the dinner party: “Alexa, dim the lights.”

When you’re rushing around getting ready for dinner guests, sometimes you can forget about creating just the right mood in the room. Ask your digital assistant to dim the lights, soften their colour or even mimic a candle flicker.

You can use your Google Home or Amazon Echo to adjust lights, set lighting timers, control rooms or groups of lights and make simple adjustments, all without needing your phone or tablet. It’s even possible to set Party routines or modes that can dim the lights, put on music and unlock the door, all at once, on command.

2. Save the house from dirt and germs: “Hey, Google, set a timer for 30 minutes from now.”

Speaking of food prep, sometimes you need a timer set for precise baking or roasting. If you’ve got flour-covered hands, or chicken juices on your paws, you don’t want to be touching the timer on the stove, or picking up your phone to set a timer. Just ask your cloud assistant to do it for you and you’ll get a loud alert when time’s up.

3. Recipe rescue: “Alexa, how many tablespoons in a cup?”

Personal digital assistants can answer almost any questions you have, on demand. Need a recipe conversion done? Help with some quick math? Or … maybe you want to check the weather forecast or get a short news update. All that info is at your fingertips with your cloud connected helper.christmas gifts google home mini

4. Calm the kids: “Alexa, play a lullabye. Tell me a story.”

If it’s naptime, but your little one won’t comply, ask Alexa to play some of their favourite music on their small in-room Amazon Dot speaker. There’s also storytelling options too where Alexa can read a book aloud to keep the kids entertained.

Smart speakers also can be programmed to trigger a “bedtime” effect or routine, where once you ask, the lights will dim, soft music or a story comes on, and then turns off automatically with a timer.

5. Save time: “OK Google, play some new music!”

Tired of the same old tunes you’ve got downloaded on your phone? Ask Google to curate some new music to expand your horizons. You can explore different genres, new artists or just let Alexa or Google entertain you with their picks. All without slogging through online articles, or paper magazines. Alexa or Google Assistant becomes your personal DJ and music curator, learning more about your preferences and tastes with each passing day.

Smart voice controlled assistants can save the day in ways you’ve never even thought of. Or perhaps you found a great way to use voice assistants and would like to share? Use the comment section below to tell what you discovered you can do!


Check out all the voice assistant technology options at Best Buy.

Erin Lawrence
Editor TV and Home Theatre
Erin is a journalist, writer, and TV producer with a fascination for technology and a love of gadgets. Check out her blog TechGadgetsCanada.com