What is a smart speaker? Why you need one and which one to buy

We’ve recommended smart speakers for a whole range of purposes in home automation: Now it’s time to take a step back and cover some of the big questions: What is a smart speaker and why is it such an important part of the modern smart home? We’re tackling every question you may have about smart speakers and popular brands, starting with the basics. Here’s everything you need to know before buying! What makes a smart speaker smart? A speaker’s ability to connect to mobile devices like smartphones and the other smart devices in your house is what makes it smart. That means you can link the speaker to your Wi-Fi network, and use an app on your phone to control it, as well as send it audio like music or podcasts — typically through a Bluetooth connection, but sometimes also streaming via Wi-Fi. Those are the basics, but many speakers go beyond this. For example, today’s smart speakers usually have a built-in voice assistant that you can command with your voice. This allows them to search the internet, make lists or reminders, and interact with a wide variety of voice assistant skills, games, jokes, and guides. Their apps can often connect directly to music services like Spotify or Apple Music so you don’t have to use your mobile device to stream music to the speaker. They also typically have the option to call friends and family from their contacts, like a hands-free phone. Beyond this, smart speakers come in a wide variety of designs and sizes. Smaller versions are designed to sit on your desk like a personal assistant, or perhaps serve as a smart alarm clock . Larger versions are made to reside in a central location on a counter or shelf where they can fill the room with sound. Mobile versions are battery-powered and generally designed to resist dust and water. What’s the point of a smart speaker? Smart speakers have two big advantages for the average smart home. First, you can control them anywhere via an app, which is extremely convenient for people who manage music on their phones. Second, they combine a whole lot of smart features in one hub for easy access. That includes voice commands and voice chats, the ability to control the smart home with access to specific devices, connections to TVs or existing speakers, and more. They are always on hand to provide a wide variety of answers or complete basic tasks, from weather updates to setting timers, making them an excellent complement to other smart devices. Who makes smart speakers? There are a lot of names in the game. Amazon and Google are two of the biggest players, while Apple also has its HomePod line. Then, there are a wide variety of Bluetooth speaker brands that add plenty of smart features to their models, like JBL, Sonos, and Bose. Are smart speakers wireless? Amazon Smart speakers can be wireless, but it’s important to define what we mean by wireless. All […]

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