Smart home devices are absolutely dominating the market in 2020, and with very good reason. Firstly, they’re a lot more than just fun gadgets. Many of them are designed to improve your home and make your life easier, and who doesn’t want that? Secondly, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused most people to be spending more time at home, so there’s no better time to start making your home a little smarter.
Smart home devices usually work on technology known as the Internet of Things (IoT), which in simple terms is a way of connecting multiple devices that either operate automatically, or are easily controlled by voice commands. First, let’s take a look at the two main smart home assistants that you’ll use to link all your devices together.
Amazon Echo works with the Amazon Alexa smart technology to help control other devices around your home. Even with nothing else connected, the Echo still works as a speaker and smart home assistant. So, the Echo’s basic features are as a music player which allows connectivity with a whole range of platforms like Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora and many more. Impressively, the Echo can also help you with online shopping, and it’s all voice controlled. Naturally, there’s a leaning to giving you products from Amazon. Ask your Amazon Echo questions about the weather, about local services, order food and even book an Uber.
Aside from these common smart home assistant features, the Echo also serves as a hub for several other smart home devices. Now, we should mention that the Amazon Alexa system supports a greater variety of devices, however that changes daily because it really depends on the individual manufacturers of smart home devices and which platform they choose to make their device compatible with.
Google Home does basically everything the Amazon Echo does, however it does boast a better sound quality for music. Using Google Assistant technology, it’s a little more user-friendly than Alexa. The Amazon version works on learning a set of ‘skills’, meaning businesses wanting to sell products through the Echo must submit a request for Alexa to learn about them. Google, on the other hand, is much better at handling free-form types of web queries. It can sometimes mean responses are slightly less relevant, but there does seem to be more scope in the Google system. Google is also more conversational.
Again, the Google Home system is a hub for smart devices, as long as manufacturers make their devices compatible. Both interact well with TVs too, so, the two big players are pretty much the same when it all comes down to it. But let’s look at some cool other smart devices you can link in to improve your lifestyle and home.
There are plenty of cool smart security devices on the market to keep your home safe. Here are two of the best available in 2020.
Arlo Ultra Security
The Arlo Ultra Security system is top of the range when it comes to functionality, quality and features. While you do need to sign up to an Arlo subscription service to get all of the benefits, it’s definitely worth it.
The Arlo Ultra is one of the first wireless outdoor cameras that records in true 4K or Ultra High Definition. But that’s not all. The features are incredible, such as motion tracking, auto zoom and even night vision. It’s got an integrated spotlight and siren, and boasts a full 180-degree view. Best of all, it’s easy to install and monitor with an app.
August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
In 2020, why fumble around for keys when you’re trying to get inside your house. The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is compatible with both Google and Amazon smart home assistants as well as other smaller platforms. It’s August’s smallest and sleekest design yet, and it’s embedded with Wi-Fi, making it super-easy to control with your smart home assistant.
Everybody loves music, and that’s why smart speakers are becoming so popular. Control what you’re listening to by voice, and even adjust volume, pause and do everything else you’d expect from a music player. Now, Amazon and Google both have their own smaller speakers like the Amazon Dot or the Google Home Mini. Obviously they work great with their respective systems, but there is an even better options out there.
Sonos One Speakers
Firstly, the thing that sets the Sonos range of speakers apart from Google and Amazon is sound quality. In its price range, the Sonos One gives you great sound no matter where you are in the house. Best of all, it’s compatible with both Google and Amazon, so it’s accessible to everyone.
If you love the Sonos One, you can also get its counterparts, the Arc, Move and Beam. These speakers are smaller or more purpose specific – for example, the Move is great for moving around. The Beam and Arc are great for anywhere in the house, even outdoors. You can control everything by voice, and everyone in the family will love the Sonos speakers range.
Around The Home
Smart devices have gone well past just controlling the TV and music in 2020. In fact, there’s almost a smart device for everything now, from lightbulbs to cooking utensils and even beds. Here are some of the more common items that can jazz up your home.
Yeelight Smart LED Bulb
If you want to control your lights by voice command but also want quality bulbs that last, the Yeelight Smart LED Bulb is for you. It features millions of colours, a dimming function, and connectivity with both Google and Amazon smart home assistants. Say goodbye to hunting around for a light switch, because smart bulbs are here to stay!
iRobot Roomba s9+
Prefer to put your feet up with some Netflix than pushing a vacuum around the house? Well now you can! The Roomba has been around for a while now, but the models keep getting better and better. The s9+, for example has a new shape that gets into hard-to-reach places and corners a lot better than its predecessor. If you think that’s impressive, this one even empties its own dustbin!
Worx Landroid Robotic Mower
Take back your Sunday afternoons and let the machines do the hard work. This robotic lawnmower is packed with features. Using GPS and Wi-Fi radios, the Landroid lets you know if there’s any issues, and you can even track exactly where it is. The easy-to-use app lets you start, stop and set trimming levels at the touch of a button.
If you want to improve comfort levels in your home and make life easier, it’s time to start looking into getting some smart devices. Start with one of the major smart home assistants, and you can build gradually from there.