Apple's new, cheaper HomePod is a tough smart speaker to nail down. On the one hand, the HomePod Mini boasts impressive audio quality for its size. The HomePod Mini also has a Thread radio that lets it act as a smart home hub, but for now, there are only a few Thread-enabled smart devices available to control. And while Apple's new Intercom feature makes for an easy way to broadcast messages to household members, it doesn't allow for two-way calling. Now, if you're a dedicated Apple user and you've been waiting for a more affordable Siri-powered smart speaker than the $300 HomePod, the $99 HomePod Mini is your best--and only--bet.
The Bose Home 300's sleek design fits in well with most decor. We weren't sure what to expect upon opening the Bose Home 300 for testing, but we were pleasantly surprised on almost every level. While the sound quality can't quite compete with the (much larger) Echo Studio, the Bose Home 300 allows users to choose between Alexa or Google Assistant; it has handy preset buttons on the top of the speaker; and it can stream audio over Bluetooth, AirPlay, WiFi, or via an old-school auxiliary cable. Through its app and smart assistants, the Bose Home 300 can play music from a large number of streaming services, such as Spotify, TuneIn, Amazon Music, Tidal, Pandora, and even Apple Music via Airplay or Bluetooth. The compatible music and podcast sources will vary a bit depending on which smart assistant you choose (you can only use one assistant at a time, however it is very easy to switch in the Bose app). Though not any larger, this speaker is much louder than most of the other smart speakers we included in this roundup.
Users around the world can now use Google's Assistant to play and control Spotify podcasts in English, Spotify has confirmed to Engadget. Until now, the voice assistant has only supported its own Google Podcasts, with third-party services limited to music streaming only. However, recent rumors suggested that the third-party podcast support was coming, starting with Spotify. You can enable the feature by heading to your Assistant device's settings in the Google Home app (on a smartphone or tablet) and choosing Spotify as the default podcast provider. You'll be able to find more information here from Spotify once the news post goes live.
You might not have to depend on Google Podcasts if you're asking Assistant to play your favorite serialized audio show. Android Police and its readers have discovered that Google is adding support for third-party podcast services, starting with Spotify. You just have to visit podcast settings in Assistant to choose your provider. We've asked Google if it can comment on the feature's rollout. AP's writer had trouble getting it to work, though it may be due to regional issues.
Google Assistant can do a lot of things on our phones, but it's not so great at interacting with our Android apps. Sure you can ask Spotify to play a song or send a text with Telegram, but for the most part, apps and Assistant are mutually exclusive. As part of its Google Assistant Developer Day Thursday, Google has announced that a handful of "your favorite Android apps" have begun working with Assistant voice commands, including Discord, Etsy, MyFitnessPal, Mint, Nike Adapt, Postmates, Snapchat, Spotify, Twitter, and Walmart. As long as the corresponding app is set up on your phone, all you need to do is summon Assistant and ask to do something within an app, like ordering pizza on Postmates or checking an order status on Walmart. Google is calling the new feature App Actions, and they're similar to Alexa Actions.
The old Google Home that looked like an air freshener has been reinvented, renamed and redesigned to rock out. Now known as Nest Audio, the new editions look more like a tiny, traditional speaker, this time in a multitude of colors (pink, blue, green, white and black), sell for less than the original Home ($99.99 versus $129.99) and the big news is a major sound upgrade. Nest Audio, available today, is still being sold as a personal assistant to run your smart home, answer trivia questions, set reminders, get news updates, translate languages and, of course, play music and podcasts. But the speaker, which runs on the Google Assistant, still lags Amazon's Echo speakers and the Alexa system in doing many obvious tasks that various Google help pages claims it can do, but either can't or require so much setup that consumers will be stymied. But let's start with what does work well: playing music. For $99, you get a speaker with vastly improved sound than the original, in a slightly larger body.
It might sound like hyperbole, but I don't believe it's an exaggeration to say that the Sonos One speaker has improved my quality of life. Prior to my experience with the Sonos One, I primarily listened to music on small smart devices like Echo Dot, my phone, or at best through my car speakers. The touch controls on top of the One can turn the mic on/off, play/pause music, and adjust the volume. It wasn't until my work at Reviewed allowed me to try out a pair of second-gen Sonos One speakers that I realized the extent to which I had been depriving myself of a quality music experience, and how the right music can change the way life feels. In the hellscape that has been the year 2020, it's been more important than ever to find ways to decompress and allow my mind to escape to a happier place.
Hands-free news and entertainment has never been easier on-the-go thanks to the arrival of the first Amazon Echo device designed for use in the car. The Echo Auto launched back in June but if you've yet to trial it yourself, now might be the best time to invest as the device has gone into the Amazon End of Summer Sale, reduced from £49.99 down to £39.99. The Echo Auto allows drivers to play music, check the news and make calls without taking their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. Add Alexa to your car with the new Echo Auto available on Amazon now for £39.99 Just like the rest of the Amazon Echo smart speaker range, the Echo Auto allows you to connect to Alexa. The device works through your phone's Alexa app and plays through your car's speakers via Bluetooth or an auxiliary input jack.
The Assistant feed has been available since March and continues to add new capabilities. This true Assistant successor to the original Google Now is now offering more Snapshot audio suggestions, including YouTube Music, and sports results. Back in June, Assistant Snapshot picked up a "Start listening for a fresh morning" card. This was solely aimed at offering "Podcasts for you." That card is now called "Perk up with fresh audio picks" to offer "News, podcasts, and music."
Amazon Alexa can read you the latest headlines, give you the forecast, and help you manage your smart home, but can Alexa play Spotify? Whether you recently signed up for Spotify or have been using the music streaming service for a while, you'll be happy to know that yes, it's possible to connect Spotify to Alexa. Not sure how to go about setting it all up? Then these simple instructions of how to connect Alexa to Spotify will be music to your ears. It only takes a few taps to connect Spotify with Alexa.