So you just got a smart speaker as a holiday gift. Congratulations. Now what do you do with them?
You have come to the right place. We are happy to help.
While Amazon Echo, Google Nest Audio, Nest Mini, and Apple HomePod have different features and features, everyone can do the same basic functions:
Depending on the matter, by saying “Hey Siri” to HomePod, or “Hey Google” for Nest Audio, or “Alexa”, on Echo speakers, you can direct them to play the music of your choice, either via a subscription service, or more generally, as part of Themed radio station via the Pandora service. Amazon speakers play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and iHeartRadio, while Apple only plays from Apple Music and Pandora. Google Speakers play YouTube Music, Pandora, Apple Music and Spotify.
Request a weather update, schedule news summaries that can start your day, set timers, play games like “Jeopardy” on Echo speakers and control your smart home. All three devices let you turn lights on and off by sound, lock doors and more, depending on the smart home units you own.
If you have two of the same branded speakers, they can double them as an intercom. With Google, it’s called “broadcast,” while it’s called “advertisement” for Echo headphones and “intercom” with HomePods. For example, “Hey Siri, Intercom” It’s time to wake up. At my home, we like “Alexa, they announce dinner is ready.”
One of my favorite features with the headphones is setting them to drop the speakers and Use as left and right TV speakers. (This is best if you have two headphones.) Feature: No wires or hanging hanging with the back of the TV. And it looks great. But you will need an additional accessory. For HomePods, you also need to have an Apple TV streaming box (which sells for $ 149 or $ 179) to pair the speakers with your TV. Amazon Speakers have a more affordable way to do this. You’ll need the Fire TV Stick, which starts at $ 17.99, or the Fire TV Cube, which is a bundled streaming player and TV audio controller, for hands-free. That sells for $ 99.99. (If you have an Amazon branded TV, it won’t work. Sorry folks.) With the streaming players connected, you can go to the audio section menu on the TV and pair the speakers.
For Echo speakers, go to the Alexa app to set this up. Select the “Hardware” tab at the bottom of the screen.
Select the + tab, then click “Sound System Setup” at the bottom of the page, then “Home Theater.”
You will then be prompted to select the Fire TV device (Streaming Stick, Cube) and then the “compatible” speakers that you want to pair and link to the TV speakers.
You might have got a video rendering version from Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Nest Hub Max. This allows you to do all the auxiliary features, smart home and music we’ve talked about, plus watch videos from your favorite star on YouTube, or even cable TV networks on Nest Hub, if you subscribe to YouTubeTV or Sling TV.
One of the new features for 2020 is the ability to make Zoom calls to devices, but the fine print alert: Google introduced it, but only for a specific preview audience, so it won’t do that until 2021 at some point. Amazon just added it, But only for the Echo Show 8, one of three Echo devices is currently available. To join the fun, say, “Alexa, join a meeting”, then announce the ID and / or password. Better, sync your calendar in the Alexa app, and you won’t have to announce those annoying IDs.
Another option: Facebook Portal, originally designed as a family video call unit, now works with Zoom as well. Units start at $ 120 with Portal Mini.
For more advice, companies offer various tools here:
an Apple: https://support.apple.com/siri
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter