How To Make Life Easier With Voice Assistants

Life Oct 28, 2020

One in three U.S. homes now has a smart speaker and 81% of us have helpers like the Google Assistant in our smartphones. Yet less than half of us actually use them.

Let's take a look at what assistants can help you with and you'll get ready to use it and make your daily routines done easier.

Play music

Photo by Ben Kolde / Unsplash

Voice-activated assistants can be personal DJs that give instant access to nearly every piece of music you would want to hear. The Google Home voice-activated speaker, Samsung Bixby, the Amazon voice assistant Alexa, and Apple’s Siri all play music natively. Just say the wake word, "play", and the song title you want, as in, "Alexa, play ‘The Rolling Stones". Pair them with high-end Bluetooth speakers and they can fill the house with sound.

"I’m sorry, I don’t know that one." Have you heard this from Bixby or Google Voice Assistant? Then you may need to link your voice-activated home assistant to a music service like Pandora, Spotify, or YouTube Music. Still can’t grab the track you want? Pair your phone to your smart speaker via Bluetooth and play all your favorite hits via YouTube.

One of the best voice assistant tricks is using voice commands for adding songs you like to playlists. Try, “Alexa, add that to my workout playlist.”

Keep a shopping list

Who knew shopping lists were such a pain? Once you start using voice-activated home assistants, you’ll wonder how you ever muddled through with pen and paper. Running low on milk? Say, “Hey Google, put milk on my shopping list.”

When you’re in the store, ask Google to open your shopping list on your phone to view the list. Also, anyone at home can add last-minute items without the need to call or text.

Another one of the best voice assistant tricks can lighten your load on grocery days. A linked Amazon account lets you buy directly from the speaker. Just say, “Alexa, reorder paper towels.” If you’re afraid the kids will summon pallets of candy bars, set up a voice code. The same voice shopping trick works with the Google voice assistant and Cortana.

Create a smart home

For most of us, a smart home sounds like something for rich people in science fiction stories. The reality, however, is much more exciting. Anyone with a voice assistant on a phone or smart speaker can get into the smart home game for as little as the cost of a $10 smart plug. Connect it with any lamp or window-unit air conditioner and finally - instant voice control. Fine!

Nuki Smart Lock (Smarthome)
Photo by Sebastian Scholz (Nuki) / Unsplash

With a bigger investment in smart bulbs or appliances, voice-activated assistants can dim lights, change their colors, or control the thermostat, blinds, and oven. Did you forget to close the garage door? Find out (and fix it) without leaving the living room. Worried about cost? Smart garage door openers don’t cost much more than ordinary “dumb” ones.

You can set up special routines like, “I’m going to bed” and your smart home will turn off all the lights, turn on your nightstand light, make sure the garage door’s closed, and start playing gentle rain sounds in the bedroom.

You can even set up your voice-activated home assistant to work from sensors so it flips on the lights when you walk through the door or turns on your old-style A/C unit when the temperature passes 78 degrees.


You can ask your Google Assistant to help with routines throughout your day. Say one command and your Assistant can do multiple actions.

For example, if you say:

  • OK Google, good morning,” your Assistant can turn on the lights, tell you about the weather, play music or news, and more.
  • OK Google, let’s go home,” your Assistant can give a traffic update, send and read texts, play a podcast, and more.
  • OK Google, bedtime,” your Assistant can set an alarm, turn off lights, play sleep sounds, and more.

The same things Samsung Bixby can also do if you go to your phone settings and enable the Bixby Routines feature in Advanced section.

Manage timers and productivity

You can also set alarms for naps or waking up each morning. Tired of the klaxon-blare of standard alarm sounds? Ask your voice-activated home assistant to wake you with your favorite song, movie quote, or the haunting wail of loons. If you have trouble sleeping to begin with, ask your Home Pod or Google Home to play a loop of distant thunder or a rushing waterfall.

Drive hands-free

This is the most important feature that sometimes might save someone's life.

One in every four car crashes in the U.S. is caused by a smartphone. Make your world a safer place with hands-free voice assistant functions in your phone. Siri, the Google voice assistant, and Bixby can give you directions and send calls and messages without you ever touching a handset.

With your phone sitting on the seat or center console, say, “Hey Siri, where’s the nearest gas station?” or, “Hey Google, give me directions to closest Walmart.” Or try, “Hey Bixby, send a text message to Kathy.”

Find lost phones

Another of the best voice assistant uses can keep you from being late to work or dinners out. Can’t find your phone? Alexa, Bixby, Siri, and the Google voice assistant can find it for you. The trick works with tablets and computers too, though there’s some setup involved in certain cases.

Get news, weather, and traffic

Try asking human questions too, like, “Do I need an umbrella today?” or “If I drive to Beckley should I take sunblock?” Your voice assistant can even share the lowdown on traffic after you inform it of your daily route once.

Say, “What’s the news?” or “Give me a news brief,” for a quick, up-to-the-minute briefing of top stories. Ask for the weather in your town.

Have random fun

The makers of all four of the best voice assistants have teams of people working in the background, tirelessly hiding voice-based “Easter eggs” to make you laugh. Ask any assistant, “What does the fox say?” and get some variation of, “Fra-ca ca-ca ca-ca ca-ca cow.” On the Google voice assistant, try “OK Google, boo!”