OCT 28, 2021 / Apple

Talkative smarthome speakers are the next battleground for control of our digital lives

With Apple unveiling the Siri-powered HomePod smart speaker, it’s ready to take on Google and Amazon for pride of place on our kitchen benches.

As your home fills with smart gadgets you can find yourself constantly jumping between smartphone apps in order to get things done. Smart speakers aim to be the one smart gadget to rule them all, hanging on your every word and then issuing commands to your various smart devices around the home.

Like a universal programmable remote control, you simply tell your smart speaker what you’re trying to do ­– from dimming the lights to turning up the heating – and the smart speaker takes care of the rest.

Amazon lead the way with its Amazon Echo smart speaker, letting you talk to Amazon Alexa in order to get things done. We might see Amazon Echo later this year when the online retail giant finally delivers on its plans for Australia.

Meanwhile the Apple HomePod and Google Home smart speakers are definitely coming to Australia this year, powered by the talkative Siri and Google Assistant respectively. While Amazon Alexa might have a head start, Google Assistant and Siri are currently better at understanding natural language so you can really talk to them rather than just issuing commands.

Even if you don’t yet own any smarthome gear to command, there are plenty of other good reasons to consider a smart speaker to live in your home.

For starters they offer an easy way to tap into streaming music services, playing your favourite tunes without the need to reach for a computer, smartphone or tablet.

You can dictate search queries to a smart speaker – as well look up the weather forecast and check your calendar appointments – with the results cheerfully read aloud.

Smart speakers also let you add things to your shopping list and even make online purchases, although right now Alexa’s tight integration with Amazon gives it the upper hand in this department.

Your kitchen bench seems like the natural home for this new generation of smart personal assistants, especially as they let you set timers, listen to music and call up recipes hands-free while cooking. Of course depending on the best use you find for your smart speaker you might decide that it’s a better fit in the lounge room, study or bedroom – you might even opt for a few speakers and spread them around your home.

With voice destined to be the future of our relationship with technology, a talkative smart speaker might be the perfect addition to your home.

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Adam Turner