Voice assisted devices – the next best thing to a personal assistant

From turning the lights off without getting out of bed, playing music, or delivering news and sports results – there are so many ways voice assisted devices can make your life easier. It’s almost like having your very own personal assistant. Our resident tech expert, Kurt Rodgers, is hosting Chorus’ ‘Tech & Tea’ event during Techweek 2019. He gives us the low down on the latest voice assisted devices available today.

What voice assisted devices are currently available in New Zealand?

Right now you can get Amazon Echo and Google Home. These products are also known as ‘smart speakers’. Apple’s equivalent, ‘Apple Home Pod’ will also be available soon.

Each device has its own voice assistant personality that you can interact with – Alexa (Amazon), Google (Google), and Siri (Apple). Siri is currently only available through your iPhone or iPad, but that will change once the Apple Home Pod arrives.

How are they helpful in day-to-day life?

Honestly, once you’ve had one for a while you won’t remember how you coped without one! I use mine in the kitchen every morning – to tell me the time, give me a weather update, play my favourite radio station, and set a timer for when I’m boiling an egg for breakfast.

Amazon Echo and Google Home come with a basic set of skills. By talking to the device, you can ask your voice assistant to do things like make a phone call, set an alarm, create a shopping list, or even throw out some trivia or jokes for entertainment.

You can also link up online streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, or iHeartRadio to your device and ask your assistant to play your favourite movie, music playlist, or radio station on demand. If you’ve got connected smart home devices, you can simply use your voice to turn lights on or off, open and close curtains, or turn on home appliances. Not having to get out of bed to turn the light off, or putting the kettle on from the comfort of your couch makes life a little bit easier.

Voice assisted devices have been available overseas for longer than in New Zealand, so some overseas models allow you to order a taxi, book or cancel appointments, and even shop online or order food for delivery. It won’t be long until we can do this here in New Zealand too. Imagine being able to do your grocery shopping and have it delivered to your door through your voice assistant!

What about the future?

Eventually there will be speakers and microphones built into appliances like televisions and refrigerators that will have their own voice assistants. Kids today won’t understand a world where you can’t talk to things. Voice assisted devices are essentially just another way to interact with the digital world, but by using your voice rather than using a keyboard or clicking a mouse. Technology is essentially returning to what is a more natural way for people to communicate. It feels a little more personable.

Are they easy to set-up and use?

When you unpack your smart speaker out of its box, you’ll find simple instructions on how to set it up. Basically, you just need to plug it in and download the accompanying app on your smartphone which will guide you through the set up process. You’ll also need a good WiFi set up and reliable broadband connection.

Where can you buy them and how much do they cost?

Amazon Echo and Google Home come in a range of sizes and forms – prices can range from $50 to $350. You can order them online or from your local electronics retailer. 

Keen to learn more? Head along to Chorus’ ‘Tech & Tea’ event on 20 May in Auckland or 22 May in Rotorua for a demonstration on just how easy voice assisted devices are to set up and use. Kurt and the friendly Chorus team will be there to answer all your questions.


This content is created in partnership with Chorus. 

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