Smart assistants are becoming more and more capable of doing everyday tasks. When they were first introduced, they're functionality was limited to sending a text or email when your hands were tied, playing a song or reading a headline. Today, with the wide range of smart devices available, these digital assistants are now able to control appliances in your home with a verbal command.
Amazon's digital assistant, Alexa, has received an upgrade and now supports "Routines." A routine is a custom command created by a user that triggers multiple actions to be completed at the same time. For example, if you wanted to turn off your television, lock the doors and turn off the lights, you would say, "Alexa, good night."
Apple's Siri has had similar support for smart home accessories via the Home app. By assigning "Scenes" to Siri, you can give similar commands for her to execute. Where Alexa differs from Siri, however, is routines can include other actions besides controlling thermostats, lights and smart locks. Users can incorporate Alexa's Flash Briefing, which provides the latest news and the weather forecast for the day.
Combining several tasks into one will make interaction with digital assistants much more efficient. Rather than having to ask four different questions, or make four different statements, you can simply program the assistant to provide the desired experience depending on your actual daily regimen.
A user could create a morning routine where Alexa will provide news, traffic information and stock updates. An evening routine that focuses more on entertainment like starting a music playlist, sports scores and playing your favorite TV show, or a relaxation or meditation routine when you want to dim the lights and close the blinds to zone out. All smart home devices currently compatible with Alexa will support routines automatically.
Amazon is also improving the "Groups" feature for the digital assistant, making it easier to control smart home devices. Previously, if you wanted to turn on a light, you would have to issue a command like, "Alexa, turn on the kitchen overhead lamp." With the upgrade to Groups, you can control all of your lights by simply saying, "Alexa, turn on the lights."
Amazon, Apple and Google are the main competitors in the smart home integration battle. Each company has their own product with the goal of users blanketing their home with smart devices powered by their A.I. Home automation will only see more and more innovation as the Internet of Things continues to grow and evolve.
What do you think about Alexa's routine and group features for controlling smart appliances? Are you thinking about integrating smart devices into your home? Drop a comment below and let us know.