Let’s talk about these Home Assistants or Virtual assistant or Smart Speakers or whatever they are called…I just want to know if they are useful or yet just another geeky gadget?
When the world was first introduced to the home assistant, I was not convinced that we needed it. I mean we have our phones and they have their voice assistant, so what’s the big deal? There is only so many times you can ask “Whats the weather?”
Fast forward to 2017 and the awesome people at Verizon Wireless sent me the Google Home Mini (thank you Verizon) so I figured its time to have another look at this whole assistant scene.
|Watch the Google Home Mini in action:|
I set the Google Home Mini system up which I must say is straight-forward. You switch it on by plugging it in, download the Google Home app on your phone and follow the wizard.
Initially, it just sat on the shelf waiting for a command. I really couldn’t work out the value of this little guy. However, after a little bit, things started to change. I found that instead of instinctively reaching for my phone, I just used my voice to ask for the information I wanted.
Here are 5 commands that have become really useful:
1. Set Reminder
Ever get into bed and just as you being to drift off to sleep-land, you remember a million things you need to do? Happens to me a lot. So now I just have to say: “ok Google, set a reminder to call Doctor tomorrow at 9am” and Google then adds this reminder to my calendar.
At the set time, I get a notification.
2. Shopping List
Following on the themes of forgetting, whenever I cook or rummage through the fridge and notice any items that need to be bought, I simply say “ok Google, add coffee to my shopping list”. Google Home Mini adds the item to a list which I can access on my phone. No more forgetting.
What I really like is that you can share the shopping list with other people. My wife and I share a list so whoever happens to be at the shop that day, is able to check the list.
I find this useful when you need to buy something that is not the “usual bread/milk/eggs” stuff- that we don’t forget. Remembering Whip Cream or Dish Washing soap tends to require two trips to the shop.
3. Where is my darn phone?
“Has anyone seen my phone?” A common question around my house usually followed by “can someone call my phone?” Now with Google Home Mini we just say “Ok Google, find my phone” and then the phone rings.
Very smartly, the Google Home Mini recognizes who is asking and then rings the right phone. Nice!
4. Setting a timer
Being able to say “ok google set a timer for 5 minutes” is really useful when I am cooking and have my hands full.
Yes my stove has a timer but its easier to just say “set reminder” than go over and smudge the stove with my dirty hands
5. Home Control
Smart home automation systems are systems that allow you to control various elements in your home via an app. Switching off the lights, changing the air-conditioning temperature and even powering up the kettle are all possible. I use the Hive Smart Home System so I now can simply tell Google Home Mini to switch my lights on and even change the color of a specific light!
The Google Home mini allows you to link to the Smart Home System. Now I can control these elements with my voice: “Ok Google, switch off lights in the lounge” and the lights switch off.
So In Summary:
The more I use the Google Home Mini the more I realize that its value isn’t in performing different functions to my phone, but the value is in being able to communicate with it using my voice.
We often sit at the dining room table where we talk about the day’s news and events around the world. At times, these discussions would prompt questions which we now simply ask Google Home Mini. This means we don’t stop the conversation to look at a phone’s screen and while we are there we get distracted by “quickly” checking email/ SMS/ Facebook/ Instagram etc. Google Home Mini just becomes part of the conversation instead of breaking the conversation to find a phone.
For the price that you can purchase Google Home Mini, I would say that yes it is worth it. As the AI technology gets smarter and learns to perform actions beyond looking for information online, the more useful the assistant becomes.
Check it out at BestBuy who is selling it currently at $29.99