Alexa – needed or novelty?

“Alexa, set a timer for 12 minutes”… “Alexa, turn the bedroom light on please”… “Alexa, flip a coin”.

By now I am sure you will have heard about smart homes. They are an interesting technology front that has taken the world by storm. In my life I have mainly met 2 groups of people when talking about the topic; ones who like to use apps and voice technology to interact with their light bulbs and those that want to continue to use the good old fashion light switch.

Both groups of people have their own preference and neither preference is right or wrong. Luckily I and my partner are like minded in the way that we love technology, we want to actively grow with the technology that is released. If the pricing is justifiable we will probably invest; I bought a TV that has an App for a remote and he bought a light bulb that connects to the wifi. For us, a smart home is a smart investment. Yes, we could use a light switch but you can’t program a light switch to turn your lights on when your mobile device connects to the wifi (IFTTT app). Business Insider estimates that 1.6 million homes have installed Amazon’s Alexa app for their Echo’s, that’s a lot of homes being connected!

So Alexa, what can she do?

A lot, if you’re an Amazon fan girl like me then you’ll probably be hot on the Alexa scene. I have found that a lot of my mobile time is being spent using the likes of Asos and Amazon. There apps are fast-paced innovative environments that positively impact my life therefore I will check them daily. Focusing more on Alexa, you can install a number of different ‘skills’ via the app which enable your smart hub to do a number of things. A skill is exactly how it sounds, an example is that you can get recipes read out to you whilst cooking or you can get Alexa to read stories out (handy for those with children). My favourite Alexa skill (which could be a selling point for some of you) is TRACKR, there’s a free app that you install on your mobile or tablet and enable Alexa to set it up. When you misplace your phone or tablet you simply ask Good Ol’ Alexa to ask TRACKR to find your device. I have tried and tested this feature and the cool thing about it is that the app makes your phone ring our even when it is on silent- gone are the days of muting the TV whilst your mate one-bells your mobile that you left on silent mode.

Why should I get one?

Why shouldn’t you? If you’ve got prime, smart home lights, cameras or locks then you would benefit from Alexa being in your home. If you haven’t then pricing up the investment could benefit you just as much, we opted for LIFX light bulbs which can be bought from Amazon, Argos, and John Lewis etc. A smart home is down to preference as I mentioned above, I love the flexibility Alexa brings to our home. Before Alexa, I would often leave cooking to chance and wouldn’t time it as I would forget to check the clock, I would lose my phone and literally be turning the cushions upside down or waiting for my partner to get home so that he could ring it. A good feature in itself is the Echo as a speaker, once connected to Amazon music or Spotify you can play specific albums and artists or you can even ask Alexa to play one she recommends for your mood.

Would you recommend her?

Alexa joined our family in December and at first we would be frustrated with her lack of understanding when we spoke but she has adapted quite nicely to our ‘non-scouse’ accents. Sometimes we would be watching TV and she would tune in to let us know that she “couldn’t quite understand” what we were asking for. As funny as it sounds, she started out rough. I began to think she would only ever be a novelty but we began adapting our home and she has proven a very interesting asset to our day-to-day life.

Where can it go?

The technology is evolving so quickly. Google Home was announced not long ago, we bought one as we can see it being an interesting development. I have to say the Google Home is certainly a new start. So far, it hasn’t been as advanced as Alexa but that is what we expected as it is so new. I will give it a few more months before I write my review on that one. In terms of Smart home, we will probably invest in smart plugs, Hive (heating control) and a new camera as having one connected to the home would be a great addition. In terms of advancements brands have already began integrating, LG’s new Smart InstaView Fridge comes with Alexa functionally (how cool?!). I can imagine in a few years’ time it will be the ‘norm’ for most households.

Thanks for reading,

Lucy

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