A Brief Guide to Choosing Your Smart Home: Home Assistant

POSTED ON  September 12, 2019

smart home assistant

Smart home technology is starting to become as prevalent in modern homes as a dishwasher. Even if you haven’t started implementing it quite yet, you’ve probably at least seen a commercial with people controlling their lights with a simple command or asking Alexa to play a certain song. If you thought to yourself, “Yep, that’s cool. I want that,” you may now be wondering how exactly to get started with a smart home assistant. You may also be trying to figure out what the pros and cons are of each option available. This guide will help you figure out the best solution for your family’s needs

Choosing your smart home: Home assistant 

So what exactly is a smart home assistant? No, it’s not the person who comes and installs your system. It’s actually software designed to help you control your smart home technology by answering questions and performing basic tasks such as playing music or adjusting your smart thermostat. Although, as you’ll come to realize, there’s a lot more personality and functionality available with each option. Some even tell jokes!

What are the different home assistants? 

Okay, so obviously smart home assistants sound super cool. But, who are they and how do you choose one? Well, you’re probably already more familiar with them than you might have originally thought (especially if you use a smartphone). Let’s dive into the pros and cons of the Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, and Siri from Apple

Home Assistant: Google Home

The smart home assistant Google Home is one of the most popular options on the market. Those who use Android devices are already used to saying “Okay, Google” to get directions, make phone calls or send emails. Now, you can use the same command to control your home without lifting a finger

Pros

One of the biggest pros of the Google Home setup is its ability to answer questions. Because it taps into Google’s search engine, this smart home assistant can understand complicated questions and provide valuable answers. It’s also recognized for being the most conversational, and least robotic sounding.

One of the biggest pros for the home assistant Google Home is that it works seamlessly with Spotify, Youtube and even Netflix “Okay, Google… play Stranger Things on living room tv.” And, if that weren’t convenient enough, Google Home can also read step-by-step cooking instructions. You’ll never have to pause to check the recipe ever again!

Google Home is also able to understand a variety of different voices and accents. This is especially helpful if your hub is set up to work in a rental or vacation home that might be utilized by a variety of people

Because it can connect to your Android devices, your Google Home device can also help you make phone calls and connect to your calendar. “Okay, Google… what time is my first meeting today?”

Cons

One of the biggest cons of the Google Home is that it has to remain plugged in at all times. This means unlike other smart home hubs, you cannot bring it into a different room to utilize as a speaker without finding another outlet. It also does not have as large of a range as other devices, so you must be close to the Google home device for it to detect your command. And, because the same command is used across all Android devices, you may wake up your phone or tablet with the “Okay, Google” command, forcing you to repeat yourself (sometimes multiple times) to the speaker in order for you to access your smart home technology

Home Assistant: Alexa

Amazon’s home assistant Alexa is another very popular option for controlling your smart home technology. What started out as simply a high-quality smart speaker has evolved into one of the “smartest” or most capable home assistants on the market. With more than 50,000 skills to date, Alexa has certainly grown up to be a very smart assistant indeed

Pros

One of the biggest pros of Amazon’s Alexa is that software developers are able to constantly submit new features. This has lead to unique technology, like being able to order a Domino’s pizza or book an Uber with one simple voice command. Out of all the smart home assistants on the market, Alexa also pairs with most 3rd party devices like smart lights, thermostats, and locks

If you want to be entertained, Alexa has you covered. She can read books from Audible, report the traffic and the news, and even tell you the score of the big game. There’s also a lot of functional features like being able to order an ingredient you forgot from WholeFoods without even having to leave the house. “Alexa, order 3 tomatoes.”

Alexa speakers are able to be transported from room to room without a cord. Although you probably won’t need to. Alexa can hear your commands from pretty far away, even if music is playing

Cons

Alexa’s biggest downfall is that she provides no visual displays, like on a smartphone. She also only understand English, so if you have a bilingual household, you may find this smart home assistant limiting

Although Alexa can do a multitude of things, she does require a separate command for each. That means you can’t ask her to turn on the lights and turn down the A/C at the same time. This can make it a bit tedious to control multiple technologies with voice commands

She is also only able to answer factual questions. Basically, she can help you with things like “What time is it?” or “What’s the weather like?” but not more complex questions like “What is a suitable substitute for paprika?” or “How do I train my puppy?”

Home Assistant: Siri

Apple users are already familiar with Apple’s home assistant Siri which is used regularly for controlling your phone, tablet, and computer. So, why not have it switch on your lights or regulate the temperature of your home? If you’ve already invested in Apple’s ecosystem, it’s an easy update to add the Siri functionality to your smart home technology

Pros

Siri’s biggest pro is that it works with other Apple devices. This makes it easy to control alarms and reminders, make phone calls, or read aloud and respond to texts even if your phone is in another room of the house.

Siri also understands and speaks multiple languages, and comes with six different voices to choose from. There’s literally a Siri for almost everyone! It can even tell you jokes, flip a coin or roll a dice. This means Siri can be the one to decide who does the dishes tonight

One of the consumers’ favorite features of the Apple home setup is that you can create custom phrases to control your smart home technology. For example, you may create a “Good Morning” phase that turns on your lights, plays soft music, and turns on your coffee pot.

Cons

Unfortunately, Siri’s biggest benefit is also its biggest downfall. If you don’t have other IOS devices, the Apple HomePod will not work for your home. It doesn’t even pair with Bluetooth. Instead, it only supports Airplay. So, you can connect 3rd party apps like Spotify, but only from your iPhone or iPad. This means you really have to stick with Apple products to make the most of the smart home technology

This system also requires an internet connection to work, so if your wifi goes down you may not be able to turn your lights on. Which do you think your teenager will think is worse?

Integration options 

One way to get even more value out of your smart home assistant is to integrate it with a smart hub. A smart hub is basically a control center that makes it more efficient for each piece of smart home technology you bring into your home to work together. All-in-one solutions like Honeywell’s Lyric system allow you to make the most out of your technology by managing all your tech in one central location instead of having to open multiple apps or give your home assistant multiple commands to set up your home. Think of it as a shortcut for making your smart home technology even smarter.

The Honeywell Lyric Family

One of the reasons Honeywell’s line of Lyric products has become so popular is that it integrates with the major smart home assistants and mitigates their “cons.” For example, you can now use Siri with non-Apple devices and manage multiple commands at once with Alexa. This product line offers thermostats, security devices, and water leak detection so you can rest assured that your home is safe and secure, no matter where you are in the world.

Super Electric: Smart Home Hub Assistance 

If you’re ready to get started implementing smart home technology you may want to consider partnering with a professional electrician. They will install your smart devices and make sure they’re set up to run efficiently and smoothly. Because the last thing you need is for your Google Home to be turning on your A/C in the middle of winter

Super Electric is here to help you get started with your smart home journey and to answer any questions you may have about the Honeywell Lyric family. Contact us to get started today

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