Amazon’s new Echo packs powerful sound and smarter features into a $100 speaker, signaling a big upgrade for the company’s popular smart home device

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Amazon Echo (4th generation)

  • Amazon’s newest Echo feels like the most meaningful upgrade in years.
  • The smart speaker has better sound, a new design, and an integrated smart home hub.
  • It’s the right balance of convenience and solid audio quality for most people.
  • Check out our guide to the best true wireless earbuds for more audio product buying advice.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyEcho (4th Gen) (small)

Amazon’s popular Echo speaker has finally gotten a makeover.

Nearly six years after Amazon quietly unveiled the original Echo, the company has completely changed the speaker’s look, marking a big departure from the glowing cylinder that we’ve come to associate with the Echo since late 2014.

But the latest Echo is far more than just a cosmetic upgrade. Amazon’s most recent entrant to the smart speaker space also features a boost in sound quality, its own dedicated Amazon-designed processor that should make Alexa more responsive, and other extras, like a temperature sensor and a built-in smart home hub.

Taken together, the improvements represent the most significant upgrade to the standard Echo we’ve seen in years, helping it stand out in Amazon’s lineup. It’s a much more notable update than 2019’s third-generation Echo, which didn’t add much to the speaker other than improved sound quality.

But the new Echo also launched as Google and Apple have been investing more heavily in their own smart home speakers. Just days after Amazon unveiled the new Echo in September 2020, Google introduced its $100 Nest Audio. Apple, meanwhile, announced a smaller and less expensive version of its HomePod smart speaker for $100 called the HomePod Mini.

Here’s a closer look at what it’s been like to use the new Echo.

Amazon Echo 2020 specifications

Amazon Echo 2020 Specifications
Dimensions 5.7 inches x 5.7 inches x 5.2 inches
Weight 34.2 ounces
Colors Charcoal, white, and blue
Processor Amazon AZ1
Speaker 3-inch woofer and dual 0.8-inch front-facing tweeters
Input/output 3.5mm line in/out
Other features Integrated smart home hub, temperature sensor

Design

New Amazon Echo vs. Old
The third-generation Amazon Echo (left) vs. the new Amazon Echo (right)

To say the new Amazon Echo looks different than its predecessor would be an understatement. Gone is the cylindrical shape that’s been a hallmark of the smart speaker series so far. Instead, the new Echo takes the form of a compact, fabric-laden orb that glows at its base when Alexa is listening.

The new Echo looks less like a traditional speaker than its predecessor, and that’s a good thing. It has more of a standout look that differentiates it from rivals, like the Nest Audio, and the spherical shape enables it to fit more naturally into my home decor. The placement of the glowing ring at the bottom of the speaker rather than at the top also feels less distracting.

But unlike the Nest Audio, which comes in black, white, green, pink, and blue, the Echo is only available in three colors: charcoal, white, and blue. For a device that most people will be prominently displaying in the living room or kitchen, it would have been nice to see a broader range of color options like those offered by Google.

Sound quality

Amazon Echo Top
The new Amazon Echo

Amazon’s new Echo has received a big boost when it comes to its most important job: serving as a home speaker. Amazon says its new speaker can now detect the acoustics of the room it’s in and adjust the audio accordingly, just like the $200 Echo Studio.

The new shape also gives the Echo better sound projection and richer bass thanks to its surface area to volume ratio, the company says.

The upgrade is certainly noticeable when compared alongside the third-generation Echo. Across the board, music sounds louder and much more open and full-bodied compared to its predecessor, with better bass as well.

The older Echo sounds a bit shallow in comparison, and isn’t able to fill the room with audio nearly as well as its successor. This is true whether I listen to pop, rock, or hip-hop on the new Echo.

It’s not quite as loud and clear as the $200 Sonos One, but it certainly comes a lot closer than the standard Echo ever has before.

Smart home hub

Phillips Hue Smart Lighting
Philips Hue light bulbs and connectivity bridges

If controlling smart home devices is one of the primary reasons you’re interested in Amazon’s smart speaker, the new Echo will feel like a step up.

Amazon has built a smart home hub into the device much like it did with the Echo Plus speaker it introduced in 2017. That means you can quickly set up devices that use Bluetooth low energy or the ZigBee protocol – one of the major protocols that allows smart home devices to communicate with one another – without requiring a separate hub or bridge. It will also support Amazon’s long-range Wi-Fi network called Sidewalk when the feature launches on June 8.

Getting a Philips Hue light bulb up and running with the new Echo requires virtually no set up since it’s compatible with Zigbee. I simply screwed the light bulb into my bedroom lamp and asked Alexa to discover new devices.

After a few short moments, Alexa confirmed that my Echo had discovered the new light and added it to the “My devices” section of the Alexa app.

The third-generation Echo, on the other hand, requires a bridge in order to connect to the same Philips Hue light bulb. The Echo also has a leg up over Google in this regard since Google devices don’t offer voice setup for smart home devices and require you to connect through the company’s app.

Other features

Amazon Echo New

The Echo series may be nearly six years old, but Amazon is only just introducing its own custom processor for its smart speaker line. Amazon’s new AZ1 processor promises to make Alexa faster and more responsive when processing requests. This functionality wasn’t available at launch but has since begun rolling out to the fourth-generation Echo and Echo Show 10.

However, the fourth-generation Echo is only slightly faster than the third-generation Echo at answering basic questions in my experience, often only beating it by less than a second.

The new Echo also comes with another unexpected addition: a temperature sensor. This makes it possible to not only ask Alexa for the weather outside, but also the temperature indoors.

For many, the decision to side with an Echo device or Google Nest device will largely depend on what ecosystem best suits your needs.

Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant can both handle many of the same tasks, but also offer their respective perks. Alexa, for example, supports a wider variety of smart home devices, as the company says there are more than 140,000 gadgets that work with Alexa. Google, on the other hand, supports more than 50,000 internet-of-things devices.

Alexa also has some extra skills, including the ability to detect sounds, like breaking glass and alarms, when you’re not home. Google requires a Nest Aware subscription for this, whereas Amazon offers these features as part of the free tier of its Alexa Guard service. And of course, Alexa makes it incredibly easy to shop on Amazon via your voice.

The Google Assistant, however, has generally performed better when it comes to answering general knowledge questions, which should come as no surprise considering it has the world’s most popular search engine at its disposal.

In a 2019 test conducted by Loup Ventures that involved asking the Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri 800 questions, Google answered 93% of those queries correctly. Alexa answered 80% of them correctly while Siri correctly responded to 83%.

Google’s smart speakers also have extra features, like an interpreter mode that translates full conversations into another language, which is more sophisticated than Alexa’s ability to translate individual phrases and words.

Privacy

Amazon Echo Light

Privacy is also crucial for a microphone-equipped device meant to sit in your living room or bedroom. Amazon, Google, and Apple have all come under scrutiny in the past over their previous policies when it comes to sharing saved recordings with human annotators for the purposes of improving their voice assistants.

Both the new Echo and Google’s Nest Audio include a physical button for turning off the microphone.

But unlike Google and Apple, you must opt out if you don’t want your voice recordings to be used by Amazon to help improve Alexa’s functionality. You can do this from the Alexa app under the Alexa Privacy section in the settings menu.

Google doesn’t retain audio by default, and announced last September that users would have to opt in to a setting that enables the search giant to share recordings with human reviewers to improve the Google Assistant.

That said, both Amazon and Google have announced privacy updates over the course of the past year. Amazon now allows you to choose to automatically delete your voice recordings after Alexa has processed your request.

You can also delete all of your previously saved voice recordings just by asking Alexa, or you can ask Alexa to send you a link to privacy settings for your device in the Alexa app.

Google also launched new features earlier this year for telling its voice assistant to forget an utterance that was detected by accident and asking the Google Assistant for more information about Google’s data collection policies.

Google recently announced a Guest Mode for the Google Assistant as well, which, like Incognito Mode, prevents Google from saving queries to your account or offering personalized responses.

The bottom line

Amazon Echo New

With improved sound, a sleek new design, and a built-in hub for setting up smart home devices, the new Echo feels like a significant upgrade for Amazon’s smart speaker.

The standard Echo model has inherited some features from its more premium predecessors, such as the $200 Echo Studio’s ability to adjust audio to match a room’s acoustics, and the integrated smart home hub that debuted on the $150 Echo Plus from 2017.

As a result, the new Echo feels like the right balance of quality audio and convenience for most people in need of a basic smart home speaker that’s not quite as high-end as the Studio, but more powerful than the $50 Echo Dot.

That could make it more difficult for rivals, like Apple and Sonos, that specialize in offering superior sound quality to compete with Amazon’s latest Echo. It also feels like an execution of the vision that Amazon has been working toward for a while when it comes to the Echo: a home speaker that doesn’t make big compromises when it comes to audio quality or smart home features.

If you have a third-generation Echo, you probably don’t need to upgrade immediately. But if you have an older model or were thinking about purchasing a second Echo anyway, you’ll certainly appreciate the upgrades.

Pros: Improved sound, attractive new design, built-in smart home hub makes it easy to set up devices

Cons: Not as much choice when it comes to color selection compared to Google, Amazon still saves and uses your voice recordings by default

Echo (4th Gen) (button)

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The best Google Assistant-enabled products

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Hundreds of smart home devices are compatible with Google’s voice assistant, Google Assistant.
  • You can control these devices with voice commands or automated routines in the Google Home app.
  • Look for the “Works with Google Assistant” logo to find devices certified by Google.

A voice-controlled smart home lets you turn on lights, adjust the thermostat, and more with a few simple commands. Google Assistant has consistently led the smart-home field in terms of voice recognition, depth of features, and regular updates. It’s a natural choice for Android phone owners and anyone who uses a lot of Google services.

Some smart-home devices have Google Assistant built-in. Others require a separate device, like a phone or a smart speaker. The Google Home app offers deeper control, with the option to set up routines that can be automated or triggered by specific phrases.

This guide to the best Google Assistant-enabled devices is based on extensive testing, supported by in-depth research of reputable reviews covering trusted brands. All come highly recommended and work seamlessly with Google Assistant.

Here are the best Google Home devices you can buy:

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart display

The Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) can measure your sleep quality.

Compact and clever, the Google Nest Hub is a great control center for any Google Assistant-led smart home.

The affordable Google Nest Hub is a versatile smart display that fits neatly into any home. It has a 7-inch touchscreen and a speaker that’s powerful enough to fill most rooms. It can display your calendar or a weather report, stream movies or TV shows, and play music or podcasts. If you use Google Photos, it doubles as a digital photo frame. It also works well as a simple control hub for smart-home devices, offering touch controls and live camera feeds. 

The second-generation Nest Hub has ultrasound technology built-in so that it can sense your presence and respond to gesture controls. This means you can wave to stop a morning alarm or to skip a music track, for example. If you use it as a bedside display, then it can sense and analyze your movement and breathing during the night, though our reviewer found it can’t replace a wearable sleep tracker. 

With Google Assistant built in, you can ask the Nest Hub to provide recipes, read the latest news, or give you a breakdown of your day. There are three far-field microphones to pick up any voice commands or questions you have for Google Assistant. There’s a mic-off switch for when you want privacy. Any linked smart-home devices added via the Google Home app can be controlled on the touchscreen or with voice commands.

The Google Nest Hub doesn’t have a camera, which is good from a privacy point of view, but means you can’t use it for video calls. The screen also has a relatively low resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels, so it’s not the best device for watching movies. 

Read our full second-generation Nest Hub review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart speaker

Nest Audio

Featuring a new design and improved audio quality, the Google Nest Audio has a highly responsive Google Assistant inside.

While Google’s smart speakers have always been smart, you could argue that the design and audio quality have lagged behind the best smart speakers. That changed with the Nest Audio, which is 75 percent louder than the original Google Home speaker and offers much deeper bass. There’s also a new rounded rectangular shape with a choice of cloth finishes that blend in nicely with any décor. 

Google Assistant is ready and waiting for your music or podcast selections. You can also set timers, check your calendar, or issue smart-home commands to any devices linked to your Google Home app. The Nest Audio packs three far-field microphones to ensure Google Assistant always picks up your voice, and there’s a switch on the back that allows you to turn the microphone off when you want privacy.

If sound quality is your top priority, something like the Sonos One may be a better pick, but it is far more expensive. The Nest Audio also lacks a few extras that Amazon’s latest Echo offers, such as a 3.5mm port or smart-hub connectivity. Ultimately, the Nest Audio is a solid smart speaker offering good sound, and there’s nothing better for Google Assistant access. 

Read our full Google Nest Audio review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible streaming stick

Chromecast with remote 2

With app support and a remote that supports voice controls, the Chromecast streaming stick serves up 4K and HDR content.

The Google Chromecast fits into an HDMI port on your TV and allows you to stream all sorts of content in up to 4K resolution. It also supports other high-dynamic-range formats, including HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. You can install apps for streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video. It’s also ideal for YouTube TV subscribers and offers easy access to your Google Play library. 

A compact remote control makes navigation easy and features a dedicated Google Assistant button to help you find content. You can search by genre, actor, mood, and more. You can also ask Google Assistant questions, get the latest weather, or bring up a live feed of any security cameras you have added in the Google Home app.

While it does support a wide selection of streaming services, 4K HDR support is currently missing from a few of them and there’s no Apple TV app. We also ran into a few minor glitches in our testing, but this is Google’s best Chromecast yet and your best bet if you want a streaming stick with Google Assistant built in.

Read our Google Chromecast with Google TV review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible light bulbs

Philips hue

The reliable Philips Hue range has some of the smartest lighting around and works seamlessly with Google Assistant.

There are plenty of good reasons that the Philips Hue range tops our smart-lighting guides. Its bulbs, strips, and fixtures support all kinds of colors, adjustable color temperature, and easy dimming via the Philips Hue app. There’s a wide choice of scenes, which serve as shortcuts to the mood you want to achieve, whether you’re relaxing in front of the TV or throwing a party. 

Using Google Assistant voice commands, you can turn lights on or off; select specific scenes; and change the brightness, color, or color temperature. If you set up a routine in the Home app, then you can say “Hey, Google, Good Morning” and have specific Hue lights turn on. You can also have lights turn on or off automatically based on who is at home.

The Bluetooth and hub-connected Philips Hue lights work with Google Assistant, but the Bluetooth bulbs are often slower to respond and support fewer voice commands. The main drawback to Philips Hue lighting is the relatively high price. We recommend the Philips Hue Starter Kits, which come with two or three bulbs and the Hue Bridge.

Read our Philips Hue Smart Lights review.

The best Google Assistant-compatible thermostat

Nest

The Nest Learning Thermostat learns over time to keep the temperature just the way you like it.

The big selling point of the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat is its ability to learn about your behaviors and routines. It can balance your temperature preferences with the need to save energy wherever possible. The app is excellent and very easy to use. There’s support for geofencing, so it knows when you’re at home or away, and it works with a wide variety of HVAC systems. 

You can issue voice commands through Google Assistant on your phone, smart speaker, or smart display to check on and change the temperature or to switch the heating off. You can simply ask to make it warmer or cooler, or you can get specific with a request to raise or lower by 2 degrees, for example, or set the temperature to 72 degrees.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is quite pricey, and you’ll want to check compatibility with your HVAC system. The more basic Google Nest Thermostat is cheaper, but it doesn’t have this model’s learning capability.

Read more about the Nest Learning Thermostat.

The best Google Assistant-compatible security camera

Best security camera for smart homes Nest Cam IQ

Google’s Nest Cam IQ captures high-quality video day or night, tracks motion, and can recognize faces.

The Nest Cam IQ comes in outdoor and indoor models, both in a minimal design that’s easy to install. The cameras support two-way audio, activity zones, intelligent alerts, motion tracking, and facial recognition. HDR enhances the video quality, there’s a 4K-image sensor for zooming in on people’s faces, and there’s infrared for when night falls. 

You can bring up live feeds on a smart display or on a TV with a Chromecast using Google Assistant voice commands. You can also set up routines in the Google Home app to automate your cameras and have them turn on automatically when you leave home. While both Nest Cam IQ models work with Google Assistant, only the indoor version has Google Assistant built in. 

The Nest Cam IQ is expensive and requires a Nest Aware subscription, which starts at $5 per month for 30 days of cloud storage. It’s also worth noting that Google is set to revamp its security camera lineup this year, replacing the Nest Cam IQ with something new. For now, though, this is the best security camera with Google Assistant. 

Read our guide to the best home security cameras.

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart plug

best smart plug tp link kasa

TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Plug can make any device smarter and allows remote control through Google Assistant voice commands.

You can make older devices smarter by plugging them into a smart outlet or plug. The Kasa Smart Plug supports automation, remote control, and voice control. The compact design ensures that it doesn’t block adjacent outlets. The Kasa app is very easy to use. This is also one of the most affordable smart plugs on the market, so you can put them all over your home for a low price.

By naming individual Kasa plugs (for example, “hall lamp” or “living room fan”) and adding them to the Google Home app, you can use voice commands through Google Assistant to turn devices on or off. You can also schedule them to turn on and off automatically in the app. Google Assistant routines also automate them. You might set the hall lamp to turn off when you say, “Hey Google, Goodnight,” for example.

These basic smart plugs have the features most people want, and they work reliably with Google Assistant. The only caveat is that you need a good Wi-Fi connection, and they only work on the 2.4GHz band. They also lack built-in surge protection. 

Read our guide to the best smart plugs and outlets.

The best Google Assistant-compatible light switch

best alexa enabled light switch belkin wemo dimmer

Remote control, dim, and schedule almost any kind of light with the Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer.

You can add voice controls to your existing lights with the Belkin WeMo range of switches. A direct Wi-Fi connection means there’s no need for a hub. The app allows you to schedule lights, set timers, and dim your lights. You can also change the brightness with your finger by running it along the channel in the middle of the switch. You can always find the switch in the dark thanks to the backlight, and there’s a clever night mode that dims the light appropriately, so you aren’t blinded if you get up in the night.

Add the WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer Switch in the Google Home app, and you can use Google Assistant voice commands to turn the switch on or off or to dim or brighten your lights. According to Belkin the switch automatically adjusts the dimming range to suit your bulbs. Use routines in the Home app to automate the switch, so a voice command like “Hey, Google, Goodnight” turns the lights off. 

While it’s fairly straightforward, the Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Dimmer does have to be wired in. It only works with one-way connection switches and requires a neutral wire. Belkin also has a WeMo Smart 3-Way Light Switch which works with Google Assistant, but it doesn’t support dimming.

The best Google Assistant-compatible smart lock

best alexa enabled smart lock august

Easy to install and offering Google Assistant support, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock allows you to set up secure keyless access.

The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock works with some existing deadbolts. You simply replace the interior portion, which means you can still use your keys outside. Installation is quick and easy, but you need a reliable Wi-Fi connection on the 2.4 GHz band. With the app, you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere, track people coming and going, and receive alerts when the door is left open. There’s also geofencing support for automatic locking and unlocking when you leave and return. 

The support for Google Assistant means you can lock or unlock the door with voice commands. You can also ask if the door is closed and locked. If you add a routine in the Google Home app, you could have a particular Google Assistant voice command lock your door. 

This fourth-generation device features a more compact design than previous versions, and August continues to release new features, such as optional biometric verification using the fingerprint or face unlock on your smartphone. However, This is a relatively expensive smart lock, and the battery life isn’t the greatest. Both Tom’s Guide and PC Mag gave it 4.5 out of 5.

Read our guide to the best smart locks.

The best Google Assistant-compatible robot vacuum

best alexa enabled robot vacuum irobot roomba s9+

The iRobot Roomba S9+ is a clever robot vacuum that performs well on carpet and hard floors, supports lots of Google Assistant voice commands, and can even empty itself.

The iRobot Roomba S9+ is our pick for the best robot vacuum for hard floors and performed impressively in testing. The Roomba S9+ rarely gets trapped and has good path-finding skills. It has a large dustbin built into the charging cradle, so it can empty itself when it returns to charge. You won’t have to empty the bin often, which is great because emptying the dust is an unpleasant necessity after every clean with most robot vacuums.

Add your iRobot account to the Google Home app for a wide array of potential voice commands through Google Assistant. You can ask the Roomba S9+ to start, stop, pause, resume, return to home base, clean by room, and more. 

The high price is an obvious downside, and this is quite a loud robot vacuum when cleaning. We also found the corner cleaning performance a bit lacking. There are some additional ongoing expenses, too; you must replace filters every couple of months, the side brush every three months, and the dirt disposal bag every month or so. You may also consider the slightly cheaper Roomba i7+ which supports the same Google Assistant voice commands.

Read our full iRobot Roomba S9+ review.

Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind when you go shopping for new Google Assistant-enabled devices. 

Works with the Google Assistant: The first thing to look for when buying a smart-home device is the “Works with the Google Assistant” logo. This is Google’s official certification program, and the presence of this logo on the box means you can add it via the Google Home app and control it with voice commands through Google Assistant.

Google Assistant built in: While a device may work with Google Assistant, you may not be able to talk to it directly. Devices like smart speakers and displays have Google Assistant inside, with microphones to pick up your voice commands. The majority of products that work with Google Assistant need a phone, smart speaker, smart display, or another device capable of hearing your voice commands.

Google Home app: To gain voice control of a device through Google Assistant, you will need to link your account via the Google Home app. The procedure is pretty straightforward, and Google Home can often automatically detect devices on your home network. You will usually need login details, and you will have to agree to share access and some data with Google. 

Internet connectivity: Smart-home devices require a strong internet connection for Google Assistant to work well. Think about where in your home the device will live and whether it can get a good wired or Wi-Fi connection in that spot. 

What else we considered

Here are a few options that may still work well for your smart-home setup.

Google Nest Hub Max: This smart display offers everything that the smaller Nest Hub does but adds a bigger and better screen, louder audio, and a camera for video calls. Read our Google Nest Hub Max review for more information.

Roku Ultra: This versatile streaming device supports just about every service you can think of, works reliably, and has Bluetooth connectivity. You can pair it with Google Assistant to control it with voice commands. Read our Roku Ultra review for more information.

Sonos One: For such a small speaker, the Sonos One offers a fantastically rich sound and can get very loud when you need it to. It also has Google Assistant built in for questions, commands, calls, and more.

Wyze Bulb: Wyze offers a basic white smart bulb that’s very affordable and works well with Google Assistant. You can ask Google Assistant to turn bulbs on or off, tweak the brightness, and change the color temperature.

Google Nest Thermostat: This affordable smart thermostat offers remote control of your HVAC system, geofencing, and support for Google Assistant.

Wyze Cam v3: Perhaps the most affordable camera on the market the Wyze Cam v3 offers full-color 1080p footage and has an IP65 rating, two-way audio, and night vision. You can also turn it on or off and access a live feed with a Google Assistant command. Read our Wyze Cam v3 review for more information.

Wyze Smart Home Plug: You can remotely control this compact smart plug, and it supports scheduling and automation. You can also turn it on or off by asking Google Assistant. 

C by GE Smart Dimmer Switch: This versatile smart light switch brings remote control to your regular lights, and you can tweak the brightness from the app or via a Google Assistant voice command. The functionality is good, but the design isn’t as attractive as our top pick.

Schlage Encode Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt: You can remotely lock and unlock this smart lock with the app. It has a number pad for setting up to 100 access codes. Google Assistant voice commands enable you to lock or unlock your door and check its status.

Roborock S6: This was the best-performing robot vacuum in our testing and it’s a lot cheaper than the Roomba S9+. But the Google Assistant integration is very basic, simply allowing you to start or stop cleaning with voice commands. Read our Roborock S6 review for more information.

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The 8 best smart plugs and smart outlets of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Smart plugs can control multiple connected devices, adding automation to lights or small appliances.
  • Most smart plugs are simple, but more complex installations can control every outlet in your home.
  • The Wyze Plug 2-pack is an affordable, flexible option that’s great for smart home novices.

Smart plugs or outlets rank among the most intuitive, flexible, and useful smart devices you can buy. These simple devices can add smart remote control and automation to anything that uses a standard home power outlet.

Smart plugs are the perfect entry point for smart-home devices but are also critical for any advanced smart-home system. You could add a smart plug to every outlet in your home or even replace the in-wall outlets with smart outlets for a seamless system.

Wyze, TP-Link, and Lutron offer a variety of options, whether you want a single smart plug, a power strip, or a whole-house system.

Here are the best smart outlets you can buy:

The best smart plug overall

Best smart plug Wyze

The Wyze Smart Home Plug is an affordable, simple, reliable option for those new to smart-home devices or experts who need basic features. 

Sold in a two-pack that’s less expensive than solo competitors, each Wyze Smart Home Plug is small enough to fit a pair into a standard home power outlet. The plugs connect to your home’s Wi-Fi through an app-based setup process and can be controlled with that same app after setup is complete. 

The plug supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so it’s possible to control it through voice commands. Aside from turning plugs on or off, the Wyze app provides basic shortcut and scheduling features so you can automate when devices are powered on. Wyze also supports IFTTT integration for users wanting more complex automation. 

While the Wyze Plug is often a great value, sales on competitors can sometimes dip prices lower. The Wyze product ecosystem is expanding but remains a bit limited compared to Philips or TP-Link. Apple’s HomeKit isn’t supported, either.

Still, the Wyze Plug is a smart choice for most people. It’s affordable, effective, and has options for expansion and customization without overwhelming novices. 

The best smart plug for future expansion

best smart plug tp link kasa

TP-Link is well-known in the smart-home space, and the Kasa Smart Plug HS103 is among the company’s most popular products. 

The TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug HS103‘s feature list is almost identical to the Wyze Plug. The Kasa 103 is small enough to fit two plugs in a standard power outlet at once. It connects over Wi-Fi and is controlled through an intuitive smartphone app. 

The plug supports voice control through Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and is compatible with those ecosystems. TP-Link’s app includes basic automation and grouping, with more advanced automation available through IFTTT. 

How do you choose between the Wyze and TP-Link Kasa plugs? It’s a choice between simplicity and expandability. Wyze’s app has a slight edge in approachability. Its product ecosystem, though not robust, is easy to understand. TP-Link’s Kasa ecosystem is massive and more difficult to navigate, but you can find products that Wyze doesn’t have, like smart LED light strips and light switches.

The best smart power strip

best smart power strip tp link kasa

Smart power strips like the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300 give you more flexibility and control over several devices. 

Smart plugs are useful but are limited to just one or two devices. That doesn’t work in a home office, home theater, or any other room where multiple appliances are plugged in to a power strip. TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300 is a good solution.

You’ll find six power outlets, each of which can be controlled or automated individually. The surge protector also has three USB-A ports for charging smartphones or tablets, though they’re “dumb” ports that don’t support remote control or automation. For the outlets, you’ll be able to monitor energy consumption via the app. 

This smart power strip supports most of the features of the Kasa Smart Plug HS103, including voice control with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, though it’s not compatible with IFTTT. The Kasa Smart app can be used to group devices or set automation schedules. This is a Wi-Fi device, so no smart hub is required.

As with TP-Link’s smart plugs, this power strip is a great value. The price is as low as smart power strips go, yet the features offered are similar to more expensive alternatives. 

The best smart power strip for Apple HomeKit

best smart power strip eve energy

The Eve Energy Strip is an expensive smart power strip with a premium look that will fit in well alongside an organized, minimalist home office. 

The Eve Energy Strip is ideal for those who don’t want to pair their $3,000 iMac with unattractive smart-home plugs. Based on its price and design, perhaps it’s not a surprise that Apple HomeKit is the only smart-home ecosystem it supports.

There’s more to the Eve Energy Strip than looks, though. HomeKit integration makes it wonderfully simple for users heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, and Siri voice control is supported. The power strip connects over Wi-Fi.  

The intuitive app supports the usual features, like scheduling and grouping, and throws in energy monitoring. Eve’s energy monitoring interface is easy to understand and can help target devices that are consuming more energy than expected.  

Eve’s product ecosystem covers some very specialized use cases. This includes water sensors, window sensors, and a weather station, all of which are HomeKit compatible. None of the company’s products are affordable, but they’re great if you care about the design and durability of your smart home devices.

The best smart plug for Apple HomeKit

best smart plug wemo mini

The WeMo Mini Smart Plug has some great features, but its HomeKit support is its biggest draw for those who use Apple’s ecosystem. 

WeMo’s Mini Smart Plug is among the smallest and most attractive sold right now, but those aren’t the only reasons to buy it. This plug’s killer feature is simple. It supports Apple HomeKit. 

That’s not its only feature, of course. The WeMo Smart Plug also supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It connects over Wi-Fi and has a simple, app-based setup process that’s among the most intuitive around. 

Other smart plugs offer the standard range of features for less. A single WeMo is often sold for more than a pair of smart plugs from other brands. Still, the WeMo Smart Plug is the most affordable option for HomeKit fans, making it an easy choice for Apple enthusiasts. 

The best outdoor smart plug

Best smart plug TP Link Kasa Outdoor KP400

Built for outdoor use, the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Outdoor Plug KP400 offers voice control, easy setup, and scheduling options.

Most smart plugs are designed for indoor use, which means they aren’t resistant to extreme heat or cold and will fail if exposed to moisture. TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Outdoor Plug KP400, however, has an IP64 weather-resistant certification. It is completely sealed against dust intrusion and can survive splashing water. 

In addition to durability, the Kasa KP400 turns a single plug into two. That’s great because the average home never seems to have enough outdoor outlets. 

The Kasa KP400’s features are otherwise the same as indoor plugs. It supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. It uses the same Kasa Smart app as other TP-Link Kasa products, so you can expect simple installation, plus support for groups and scheduling. The plug connects over Wi-Fi. 

Despite its added durability, the Kasa KP400 is just a few dollars more expensive than indoor plugs, which makes it a great value. 

The best smart outlet

best smart outlet GE enbrighten

The Enbrighten 55256 Smart Receptacle replaces an existing wall outlet with one that you can control with your voice or an app.

Enbrighten is among the few brands selling smart home outlets designed to be installed directly into a wall. The Enbrighten 55256 Smart Receptacle keeps the typical, flush look of a power outlet, which many homeowners will prefer. It’s also a better option for tight spaces where even small smart plugs could cause clearance issues. 

The Enbrighten 55256 connects over the Z-Wave standard, which means you’ll need a Z-Wave-compatible smart-home hub. This smart outlet doesn’t have its own app. Instead you’ll use the interface provided by your hub to control it. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration remain available. 

This smart outlet is operating on a different wavelength, both literally and figuratively, from other smart plugs on this list. It’s designed for smart-home systems installed by a DIY enthusiast or a professional. There’s nothing simple or intuitive about it. 

Enbrighten offers a range of similar products that support either Z-Wave or Zigbee. While the 55256 is the model we list, we recommend you examine the entire product line before buying. The company’s products are best installed together as part of a system instead of added piecemeal over time. 

The best smart plug for a whole-home system

best smart plug lutron caseta

Lutron’s Caséta Wireless Smart Bridge is meant for homeowners looking to build a large and complex smart home system. 

Unlike other plugs here, the Lutron Caséta Wireless Starter Kit kit comes with a base station that is required to use the outlet. This is a must-have. Lutron uses its own proprietary wireless solution that is not compatible with Wi-Fi, Zigbee, or Z-wave.

Despite this, Caséta’s Wireless Smart Bridge is broadly compatible with many smart home systems. It can be integrated with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, and Sonos. 

The company also offers an extensive selection of powerful smart-home devices, including numerous switches and sensors. Lutron’s Caseta is designed for whole-home integration that will potentially control every light, fan, and switch in a house. It’s a reliable and attractive ecosystem that justifies its high price.

How to choose a smart plug or outlet

There are a few things to think about before buying a smart plug or outlet. 

Smart plugs vs. smart outlets

Most of the products listed here are smart plugs. A smart plug is connected to an existing power outlet and other devices or appliances are connected to the plug. 

Smart plugs are inexpensive, easy to use, and don’t require permanent installation. They’re great for both homeowners and renters. They do have downsides, however. Smart plugs add bulk to a wall outlet, which can be a problem if you have furniture directly in front of it. They can become confusing to manage as additional plugs are added, since each plug is listed and managed individually.

Smart outlets are an integrated solution that replaces existing hardware in the walls, so they’re not meant for renters. They’re more complex to install and may require a professional. They can be easier to use in the long run, though, if you intend to make every outlet and switch in your home a smart device.

Can you mix and match smart plugs and outlets from different brands?

There are dozens of smart plugs and outlets available. Most are easy to use out of the box but managing them can be a hassle as you try to expand your smart home.

Most smart plugs provide two options for control and management. The first is the app provided by the company that makes the smart plug. This will only work with devices made by that company. 

Your second option is a broader platform like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit. These can control devices from multiple brands, but the level of control you have over any specific device may be limited.

The existence of platforms like Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit means you can mix and match smart plugs and outlets from different brands. Compatibility between devices is not guaranteed, though, and you’ll need to install the app linked to each brand for initial setup. 

You can mix and match if necessary, but your devices may not communicate as well as if they were from the same manufacturer.

What’s the difference between Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Z-Wave? 

All smart plugs and outlets are wireless, but they may use different wireless standards. Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Z-Wave are the most common standards used today.

Wi-Fi, which is by far the most popular, is the same standard used to connect PCs, smartphones, game consoles, and other devices to your local Wi-Fi network. It doesn’t require new installation or setup of a wireless hub because most homes already have a Wi-Fi router. The only problem is network congestion. Large numbers of smart-home devices can clog up a Wi-Fi network, slowing connections or causing reliability issues. 

Zigbee and Z-Wave are the other common wireless standards. They require a wireless hub that can communicate with compatible devices. Large homes may need multiple hubs. This adds to the cost and difficulty of setup, but Zigbee and Z-Wave tend to be more reliable when used to handle numerous connected devices.  

It’s possible to use devices designed for different standards together if a platform is used as a bridge. For example, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi connected smart-home devices that are compatible with HomeKit will appear together in the HomeKit app. 

With that said, it’s best to minimize mixing different wireless standards for the same reason it’s best to avoid mixing brands. The added complexity can make your smart-home system more difficult and time consuming to manage.

What we’re looking forward to testing

Manufacturers previewed dozens of new smart-home devices at CES 2021 in January. These included several attractive smart plugs that could be worth your attention when they hit store shelves. 

  • Lutron Caséta Outdoor Smart Plug: This is the first outdoor plug for Lutron’s popular Caséta smart-home system. It’s larger, more durable, and more expensive than the TP-Link Kasa plug that we recommend. The Caséta plug is likely overkill for most people but could be perfect for those already invested in Lutron’s other products. 
  • Konka Smart Plug: Konka, a Chinese brand best known for its televisions, announced a full line of smart-home products at CES 2021. This includes both single and dual-outlet smart plugs and a smart power strip. Pricing and availability haven’t been announced. 
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How to use Google Take Me Home to get hands-free directions on your iPhone and Android

Google Pixel assistant
You can get directions home from Google with just a few words.

  • “Hey Google, take me home” is a voice command you can use to immediately get directions home from Google Assistant.
  • Google Take Me Home is available on iPhone and Android in the Google Maps and the Google Assistant apps.
  • iOS users will need to install the Google Assistant app to use this feature.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

“Hey Google, take me home” is a voice command for Google Assistant that opens the Google Maps app and starts a route to your home address.

It’s most seamlessly used on Android devices, which already use Google Assistant as its default virtual assistant. However Apple users can also install the Google Assistant app and use it separately or in tandem with Siri.

How the “Hey Google, take me home” feature works

This voice command is carried out by Google Assistant and can be used once you set – or edit – a Google Maps home address. Once it’s all set up, you can open either Google Assistant or Google Maps to use the command.

For Android users, all you need to do is set that home address and then say “Hey Google, take me home” or or “Ok Google, take me home.” Google Assistant will open Google Maps and find the fastest route home.

For Apple users, you’ll need to install and set up Google Assistant, then set your home address on Google Maps.

How to use Google Assistant driving mode in Google Maps to control your phone with your voice while on the roadHow to check the traffic around you on Google Maps in 2 ways, so that you know which routes to avoidA full list of Google voice commands you can use with Google Assistant to make everyday tasks easierA comprehensive list of Siri voice commands you can use on an iPhone

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The new Google Nest Hub is a smart display that’s designed to help you sleep better – you can preorder it now for $100

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

google nest hub lifestyle sleeping
  • Google announced a second generation model of its Nest Hub on March 16.
  • The smart display includes improved bass and a new feature designed to monitor your sleep.
  • The new Nest Hub will be available starting March 30, and you can preorder it now for $100.

Nest Hub (2nd gen) (small)

Just over two years since Google introduced its first Home Hub device, the company has announced its latest smart display. The second-generation Nest Hub offers several improvements over its predecessor, along with a new feature: Sleep Sensing.

The smart display is a versatile device that helps you stay connected with the world around you. It features a 7-inch touchscreen panel, and Google says the new Nest Hub provides 50% better bass than the last model. You can use the device with a number of different streaming services – whether you want to hear your favorite song on Spotify or catch a flick with Disney Plus.

The smart display is also easy to control, as its motion sensor picks up your hand movements to tell it to play or stop songs. The new Nest Hub uses Google Assistant technology as well, so you can ask it to do tasks with your voice. You can also use the Nest Hub as a console to control features on other compatible smart home products, such as smart lights.

One of the new Nest Hub‘s main features is its Sleep Sensing capability. The smart display uses its motion sense with low-energy radar technology to detect your movement and breathing when you sleep near the device. It can also monitor snoring and temperature changes.

The Nest Hub then takes all of this data to create an analysis of your sleep. After your night’s rest, you can use the smart display to see how you’ve been doing and whether it has any suggestions for ways you can improve your sleep.

If you want to get your hands on the new Nest Hub as soon as it’s released, here’s how you can preorder it from Google today.

Google Nest Hub price

The Google Nest Hub costs $100 and is available for preorder now through Google and Walmart. Orders are expected to start shipping on March 30. The Nest Hub is available in four colors: chalk, charcoal, mist, and sand.

Walmart currently lists the item with free delivery, and if you preorder now the Nest Hub is estimated to be delivered by April 1.

If you preorder through Google, you can choose between a number of shipping options, including standard, priority, and expedited. Google’s standard shipping costs nothing. If you preorder with that option today, Google expects the Nest Hub will arrive between April 2 and 6.

Priority shipping will cost you $14 and, if you use this option today, Google predicts it will deliver the new Nest Hub between April 1 and 2. Expedited shipping is the fastest option and costs $21. If you use this option today, Google expects to deliver the new Nest Hub between March 31 and April 1.

We’ll update this article with additional retailer options once they’re available.

Nest Hub (2nd gen) (button)

Google Nest Hub specs

Google Nest Hub Specifications
Dimensions: 4.7 x 7.0 x 2.7 inches
Weight: 19.7 ounces
Display: 7-inch touchscreen with 1024 x 600 resolution
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, Chromecast built-in
Voice assistants: Google Assistant
Drivers: 1.7-inch full-range driver
Microphones: Three far-field microphones
Sensors: Motion, ambient light, and temperature
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A senior director at Google who leads a team of 30 and has 2 young kids shared her daily pandemic routine with us, from Peloton workouts in the garage to 10 daily video calls

Lilian Rincon
Lilian Rincon.

Before the pandemic, Lilian Rincon woke up at 5:30 a.m. every weekday to fit in a quick workout before dropping off her kids at school and driving to her office at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

As the senior director of product management for the Google Assistant, Rincon managed a team of more than 30 people, and each day was packed with up to 12 meetings. Back in 2018, Rincon shared a look into her daily routine with Insider. Nearly two-and-a-half years later, we caught up with her to see how her day-to-day has changed because of the pandemic.

Like many other workers who are able to do their job remotely, Rincon has been working from home for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She lives in the Portola Valley area of California with her husband, Nik, and their two children, Hudson, 7, and Bela, 4. Google extended its employee work-from-home option to September 2021, so Rincon will keep working from home until there are further updates, she said.

Here’s a look at her new daily routine, from fitting in a morning Peloton workout in the garage to helping her kids with their online schooling.

Lilian Rincon is the senior director of product management for the Google Assistant, managing a team of more than 30 people.

Lilian Rincon
Lilian Rincon.

While other teams handle the speakers and hardware aspects of the Assistant, Rincon’s team thinks about what types of things the Assistant should be able to do. 

In 2018, Rincon gave Insider a peek into her daily routine. She would wake up at 5:30 a.m. to fit in a workout before dropping off her kids at school and driving herself to work. At Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, she would get her morning almond milk latté at the free employee cafe, attend up to 12 meetings a day, and sometimes take a slide down to a lower level instead of the stairs.

Now, like many others, Rincon has been working from home for a year, and her daily routine looks different in almost every way.

She lives in California with her husband, Nik, and their two children, Hudson, 7, and Bela, 4.

Lilian Rincon

Like many other families, Rincon and her family relocated during the pandemic. Rincon said they had considered remodeling their current home but found that remodeling prices had doubled, so they found a new home that fit their needs instead.

They moved from San Carlos to the Portola Valley area. Both towns are roughly 15 miles from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View.

As she did pre-pandemic, Rincon starts her day with some exercise. But now, she gets a bit more sleep and gets up at 6:00 a.m rather than 5:30.

lilian rincon

“To help me show up as my best self both at work and with family, most mornings I take some time to work out — often with a little yoga,” Rincon told Insider.

She also does workout videos like this cardio kickboxing video.

Other days, Rincon’s morning workout is cycling on her Peloton bike.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

She converted her garage into a workout space during the pandemic. 

During the pandemic, as more people have stayed home and commuted less, Rincon said her team has seen more people using the Google Assistant for things like their morning routines.

She has her own Google Assistant set up to turn on her kitchen lights, read out her calendar for the day, and play the news after she says, “Hey Google, good morning.”

Before the pandemic, Rincon typically picked up her coffee from the free employee café at Google’s Mountain View campus. Now, Rincon has her coffee at home and sometimes drinks it outside while watering the plants.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

“One of the many things I’ve learned is that the slower pace in the morning has made a difference in my productivity and sense of well-being,” Rincon said.

For breakfast, she usually has a pre-made smoothie or some eggs with fruit and toast.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

On this particular day, she had avocado toast.

Rincon said she and her husband wake up their kids between 7:00 and 7:15 a.m. and “tag team” getting the kids dressed, fed, and their teeth brushed so they’re ready for their online schooling.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic
Bela and Hudson dancing.

“When I have trouble getting them moving, we play either the ‘The Descendants Soundtrack’ or the ‘Kidz Bop’ station to get them dancing and in a good mood for the day,” Rincon said.

Rincon’s children have oscillated between in-person and online schooling over the past year.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic
Bela, 4, and Hudson, 7.

The new prevalence of online schooling inspired Rincon and her team to create a new Google Assistant feature called Family Bell, which allows parents to add bell reminders throughout the day that announce when it’s time for a child to start an online class, take a break, or have a snack.

“I can’t tell you how much Family Bell has kept the kids on track throughout the day and evening routines (and has helped my husband and I keep more sane)!” Rincon said.

When Rincon first started working from home, she often worked at the dining room table. But as it became clear she’d be working from home for an extended period, Rincon realized she needed a proper setup.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic
Rincon’s home office.

“I created my home office by first thinking about the type of environment I wanted: simple, calming, and uncluttered so I can focus on work,” she said. “Then, I gathered inspiration online and bought furnishings like my desk and chair — along with a new rug to spruce things up.”

She bought a ring light to create better lighting for her video calls.

Because Rincon and her husband both have jobs, they’ve worked out a system to balance their work and family lives.

In the early days of the pandemic, Rincon’s husband took the morning shift with the kids, while Rincon looked after them in the afternoon. That meant she scheduled all of her work meetings in the morning.

Now, the family has a caregiver to help out with the kids, she said. When Hudson and Bela are doing in-person school, the caregiver looks after the kids in the afternoon through early evening. When the kids are schooling from home, the caregiver helps out in the morning through early afternoon.

“Not everyone has this privilege and we don’t take it for granted,” Rincon said.

As before the pandemic, Rincon spends most of her day in meetings – only now they’re virtual.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

“I try to block out some time on my calendar to pull myself out of the day-to-day and spend some time thinking about the bigger picture and product strategy,” she said.

She said she’s been able to slightly reduce her average number of meetings per day from 12 before the pandemic to eight to 10.

“Like so many families, working and having kids at home has forced major prioritization,” she said.

Rincon said she keeps coloring books near her work space for the times when her daughter, Bela, interrupts her meetings.

Lilian Rincon

“Like many parents working from home, this happens fairly often,” Rincon said. “My team is very familiar with seeing her on our video chats.”

Rincon said it took some time for her team to adjust to working from home. “But my team is now in a really good rhythm in terms of remote collaboration,” she said.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic
A few members of the Google Assistant team. “I’m proud to be working alongside this group,” Rincon said.

Rincon shared two tips that have worked for her team:

  1. They created a working document that enables them to do reviews for new features and updates offline — often making it possible to cancel meetings that not everyone can attend.  
  2. Rincon schedules regular 15-minute, one-on-one meetings with her team members to stay informed of any important updates.

Rincon said her team has also been focused on making the Google Assistant more inclusive.

“For example, when tension was mounting around racial injustice last summer, we launched thoughtful responses to queries like ‘Hey Google, do Black Lives Matter?’ and ‘Hey Google, do All Lives Matter?'”

Lunchtime is another part of Rincon’s day that looks much different from before the pandemic. “One thing I greatly miss is having lunch with colleagues,” she said. “The silver lining is I usually get to eat lunch with my family.”

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

Rincon said they typically eat something that’s quick and easy to make, like a salad or sandwiches. 

“This day we had one of my favorites — a homemade burger and fries,” she said.

Rincon takes a break in the afternoon to review flashcards with her daughter, who’s starting to read.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

One of her daughter’s daily lessons is going over the alphabet, so Rincon reviews flashcards with letters with her.

Rincon said she tries to be intentional about taking breaks, even though it can be hard to disconnect from work.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

“Most days my family and I find something to do outside that allows us to expel some energy and get fresh air,” she said.

“Whether it’s playing tag in our backyard or going for a quick walk in the neighborhood, anything we can do to keep from going to stir crazy is welcomed.”

A few times a week before dinner, the family video calls both sets of the kids’ grandparents.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

“It’s special to connect with them regularly as we miss seeing them in person,” she said, adding that “Bela is always the one making everyone laugh.”

The family typically has dinner together around 5:30 p.m.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

“Pre-quarantine, my husband did a lot of the cooking,” Rincon said. “But since I no longer commute to and from work, I’ve been able to brush up my skills in the kitchen. It’s almost meditative and allows me to get creative — that is, when I’m not rushing to get a meal on the table.”

After the kids’ bath time, it’s story time for about 30 minutes before they go to bed around 8:00 p.m.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

After the kids are in bed, Rincon often gets back online to follow up on any urgent items or give her team guidance for the following day.

Other evenings, she relaxes with her husband by watching a TV show on Netflix. (Naturally, they watch on a Google TV.)

“Over the past year, I’ve found myself needing more comedic relief than usual — so I love catching up on Schitt’s Creek,” Rincon said.

To wind down after a busy day, Rincon meditates with Headspace or pulls up a sleep meditation on YouTube.

lilian rincon google daily routine pandemic

“My routine has changed pretty drastically due to quarantine, but a couple of items have remained consistent: carving out time for family and mindful moments,” Rincon said.

She goes to bed between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m.

“I’m grateful to have a few moments to center myself before getting my Zzzs.”

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Sonos’ new compact portable speaker features a waterproof design and built-in voice control for $169

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Sonos Roam on beach
  • The Sonos Roam is the company’s new portable, waterproof speaker.
  • The compact speaker features up to 10 hours of playback and includes voice assistant support.
  • You can preorder the Sonos Roam now for $169, and first shipments are set to arrive by April 20.

Roam (small)

After giving portable speakers a go with the impressive but rather hefty Sonos Move in 2019, Sonos is back with a lighter, waterproof, and much more compact model called the Sonos Roam.

The size of the Sonos Roam is similar to a water bottle, making it an ideal fit for mobile listening. And, despite its small footprint, the speaker is designed to pack a punch with up to 10 hours of playback and a drop-resistant body.

The Sonos Roam also comes with Sonos’ Trueplay feature, meaning it’s keen on its surroundings and adjusts its sound to match the scene. The model is waterproof as well, so you can submerge it in up to three feet for 30 minutes. Sonos also continues its dedication to quality sound via the speaker’s two Class-H digital amps, mid-woofer, and tweeter.

It also lets you use voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Alexa. The Sonos Roam can connect to your Wi-Fi at home, and when you get out of range it can pair via Bluetooth to your phone. The speaker is simple to charge, as well, as you can simply place it on top of a Qi wireless charger.

You can find full price, preorder, and specification details for the Sonos Roam below.

Sonos Roam price

Sonos will release the Sonos Roam on April 20. You can preorder the speaker right now for $169.

When you buy products through Sonos, you can set up a monthly financing plan to spread out your payments. The purchase comes with free shipping across the US and, if you’re not a fan, you can return the Sonos Roam within 45 days.

You can buy either the matte black or matte white version, and deliveries are expected to arrive to customers by April 20. We’ll update this article with additional retailer options once they’re available.

Roam (button)

Sonos Roam specs

Sonos Roam Specifications
Dimensions: 6.61 x 2.44 x 2.36 inches
Weight: 0.95 pounds
Battery: Up to 10 hours of playback
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, Apple AirPlay 2
Voice assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Drivers: One mid-woofer, one tweeter
Design: IP67 waterproof and dustproof
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How to translate live conversations with Google Assistant using its built-in Interpreter Mode

woman on phone in car
Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode is particularly useful when traveling abroad and in situations that require navigating language barriers.

  • You can translate conversations with Google Assistant in up to 44 languages by using its Interpreter Mode, which is built into the Google Assistant app. 
  • Google Assistant is an artificial intelligence-based program, similar to Siri and Alexa, that has the capability to translate a conversation in real-time, among many other things. 
  • Its Interpreter Mode is now available on iOS devices and Androids, in addition to smart speakers and tablets. 
  • Currently, Interpreter Mode can only be used online, unlike Google Translate.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Google Assistant is a virtual assistant, similar to Siri and Alexa, that is fueled by artificial intelligence to perform various tasks. The company calls it “your own personal Google” – the artificial intelligence component, much like its search engine, brings the internet to you and answers your questions. 

You can ask Google Assistant to play music, look up sports scores, search for directions, and even control your home through its smart devices. Google Assistant is available on many “smart” platforms, including smartphones, Google Home speakers, tablets, and displays.

Real-time translation is among its many features and is particularly helpful when traveling abroad and navigating conversations with language barriers. After getting Google Assistant’s attention (just say “Hey Google”), command it to be your translator in any language. Interpreter Mode will automatically be activated. 

We’ll show you how to both use this feature and troubleshoot potential problems.

How to translate conversations with Google Assistant

Google Assistant for phones and tablets has a few more language options than the version for smart speakers and displays, one being Urdu, the official national language of Pakistan. 

1. If you’re using an iPhone, you’ll need to download the Google Assistant app from the App Store. (It’s already included in the operating system on Androids.)

2. Open the app and say “Hey Google” or hit the microphone icon. The AI is now listening.

3. Say something like “Be my French interpreter,” “Interpret from English to French,” or “Turn on Interpreter Mode.”

4. Google Assistant will ask you what languages you want to be translated if you haven’t yet specified. Depending on your settings, it can also detect the language according to your location. 

How to translate conversations with Google assistant 1.PNG
Specify the other language or start speaking.

5. You’ll hear a tone when translation mode is on. Just start talking. The AI will know which language is being spoken.

6. You can also set it so that the keyboard types out the translations instead of speaking them. 

How to translate conversations with Google assistant 3.PNG
You can choose to hear the translation or see it on the keyboard.

7. Swipe from left to right to turn off interpreter mode, or say “Stop.”

How to fix potential issues with Google Assistant

Artificial intelligence-powered technology isn’t always perfect, so there’s a chance you may run into issues while using Google Assistant.

Google Assistant won’t recognize every command. The following will not activate Interpreter Mode:

  • “Translate.”
  • “Speak French” (or any language).
  • “Can you speak French?” (or any language).

Remember to wait for the tone before speaking or Google Assistant may not catch everything you say. Also, double check that your device is compatible with Interpreter Mode.

Remain close to your device while speaking, speak clearly, and make sure your pronunciation is correct. Otherwise, Google Assistant may translate you incorrectly.

How to translate conversations with Google assistant 5.PNG
Make sure you speak clearly so that Google Assistant can translate properly.

Home (small, Preferred: Walmart)

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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