Although 57 per cent of us own a smart assistant, playing music is still the main reason we buy one. This is according to research of 1,042 people carried out by the Real Homes Show, our online TV show, sponsored by Checkatrade (opens in new tab), which now features a smart home tech section. But, it turns out, we're missing out on a whole world of fun.
If you're one of the 53 per cent of people who own an Alexa-enabled voice assistant (such as the Echo (opens in new tab), Echo Dot (opens in new tab) or Echo Plus (opens in new tab)), or amongst the 22 per cent of people who own a Google Home (opens in new tab) device, here are nine of the weird, wonderful, and occasionally useful, things you could be using it for.
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1. Ask Alexa or Google Home to play a game with you
Remember the days when everyone sat around playing Monopoly of an evening? Nah, us neither. You've got more chance of getting the whole family involved in a game if it's of the digital variety. Ask your smart assistant to play a game and you'll be spoilt for choice. From a name-that-song music quiz to a testing of your general knowledge, you'll find something to keep everyone entertained.
2. Add to your joke repertoire
Friends fed up of your cheese jokes? They're probably not very Gouda (sorry). Luckily, both Alexa and Google Home Assistant can help improve your puns. Ask either to tell you a joke, remember it and prepare for the laughs to roll in. You might even pick up a cracker (sorry, again).
3. Tell everyone when dinner is ready
If you've got teenagers in front of Fortnite and your other half glued to the TV, then yelling that dinner is ready can fall on deaf ears. Instead, use your smart assistant and speakers as an intercom. Great fun for making announcements, especially if they embarrass the kids... 'Josh, hope you're having fun up there with your new girlfriend...'.
4. Make a handsfree phone call
Still dialling friends and family on the old dog and bone? That's sooo 2018. Instead, sync your phone to your smart assistant and then use it to make handsfree calls, either on the phone or to your smart assistant. Letting your mum natter away while you get on with something useful? Priceless.
5. Get help in the kitchen
If it's that time of the week when there's nothing in the fridge but some cheese, an egg and half a pepper, your smart assistant can come to your rescue. Ask your smart assistant for recipes containing the items you have. And if you're confused as to how many grams are in a cup, they can help with that, too.
6. Learn a new language
If 'paella, por favor' is the extent of your Spanish skills, then use your smart assistant to learn some more of the local lingo before you jet off on holiday. Alexa can teach you a word of the day in your chosen language, or let you listen and learn from a daily audio lesson, both using the Daily Dose app (opens in new tab). Google Home Assistant, meanwhile, can translate words and phrases into English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese for you. Bonne chance!
7. Remember all the stuff you usually forget
Fed up of getting home from the shops and realising you've forgotten the milk? Then use your smart assistant to send you reminders or make lists for you. For instance, say 'Alexa, add eggs to my shopping list' or 'Hey Google, remember my work door passcode'. Using the linked app, you can listen back to your reminders or get them entered into a linked app, such as AnyList (opens in new tab), and Todoist (opens in new tab).
8. Get a better night's sleep
Having trouble nodding off? Ask Google Home Assistant to play you white noise on your bedroom speaker, which is proven to help you drift into the land of nod. Alexa, meanwhile, can teach you to meditate – simply ask Alexa to open Headspace (opens in new tab) or Mindful Meditation and then sit back, relax and fall asleep.
9. Control your smart home
Okay, we're guessing you already know this, but as most of us are only using our smart assistants to play music, it's worth a recap. Both Alexa and Google Home Assistant-enabled devices can be synced with everything from smart lighting to smart washing machines, allowing you to control your devices using your voice if you're at home, or using the app if you're out and about. Clever, aren't they?