Chances are that you’ve heard all about smart speakers in recent years.
The first major smart speaker to enter the market was the ever-popular Amazon Echo in 2014, fully equipped with an intelligent assistant by the name of Alexa.
When Google Home was released two years later, consumers began to have options for voice assistants that can control a multitude of smart home devices. Thus, a new category of technology was born that would forever change the way we interact with our homes.
These devices are most commonly purchased to listen to music or audiobooks, but tech-savvy consumers are increasingly using them as a simple starting point for their smart home setup. However, if you’re interested in purchasing a smart speaker solely to string together all of your smart home devices, you might not necessarily need one. Let’s weigh the options.
What Is A Smart Speaker?
Before you consider purchasing a smart speaker, it’s important to know exactly what they are. Simply put, a smart speaker is an artificially intelligent speaker that communicates to you via voice inputs.
For the smart home savvy, it acts as a central command center that seamlessly makes all of your smart home devices work together. These devices can connect to your smart plugs, lights, doorbells, cameras, locks and thermostats, allowing you to control each device from one integrated voice-controlled interface.
One of the biggest appeals of a smart speaker is the ability to control everything in your home with your voice. Want to turn off the living room lights? Just tell Alexa. Need to lock the front door? Google Assistant is at your service.
A smart speaker’s entertainment value is also one of its major pros. These devices can play music, audiobooks and the news, as well as a wide range of other voice-controlled skills, like telling jokes and sharing the weather forecast.
Do You Need One?
Even though the benefits of smart speakers are well-established, there’s still a lot of confusion about whether they’re even necessary. If you’re looking to connect all of your smart home devices in one place, you have another option, but you will have to sacrifice some of the convenience that comes with having a speaker.
Smart speakers add voice control to your smart home, but you can still control all of your smart home devices and appliances through a phone app like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Using these apps, you can set up, view and control each connected device in your home through one central interface. These apps make it incredibly easy to connect your devices and usually require following the same steps as connecting your device to a speaker.
However, many consumers prefer interacting with their smart home setup using voice control rather than an app due to the ease and convenience of simply using their device’s wake word and voicing a command. This can be even more beneficial for those who don’t have a smartphone or struggle with technology. If you want your entire family to be able to remotely control your home’s smart devices, both your grandmother and preschooler will be able to do so with their voice. Even if everyone in your home has a smartphone, a speaker eliminates the need for everyone to have to download and sign in to the app.
Although smart speakers are convenient, they aren’t necessary to create a smart home setup. If cost is no concern for you and your top priority is hands-free voice control, a smart speaker is a great way to get started on a smart home. However, if you’d prefer to keep your smart home setup as simple and affordable as possible and don’t mind jumping through a few extra hoops to control your smart home devices, using a smart home hub app on your phone is a great alternative.