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In this quick 3-minute guide, we’ll be talking about smart assistant routines, what they are and how to set them up in your smart assistant. If you have not yet bought a smart speaker, get started with our Apple HomePod, Google Home and Alexa Echo review.
Note: We’ll be focusing only on Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, the two most popular smart assistants. Apple HomePod doesn’t yet have this feature.
What are Smart Assistant Routines?
Smart assistants work mainly through voice commands. Alexa, switch on the lights or Ok Google, play some music.
But what if you want to make more than one request at a time? Maybe switch on the lights and play some music.
Both Google Assistant and Alexa can handle multiple commands at ones. Google Assistant is limited to two commands while Alexa can handle an endless string of commands as long as you pause long enough in between commands for her to process them.
But that is still a lot of work. You have to speak every single command.
Thankfully, there is a way to give multiple commands without having to rap all of them in a single sentence. Google and Amazon have both introduced a feature called Routines.
Routines allow you to groups a number of different commands under a single command. Instead of saying every command for each action you want the assistant to carry out, you simply use one command and it does all of them. It’s a sort of a voice shortcut.
For instance just by saying Hey Google, good morning, Google Assistant can switch on the lights, turn up the thermostat, tell you about your day’s agenda and deliver a news briefing.
It’s that easy.
Setting Up Routines in Google Home
You’ll need the Google Home app to configure and set up routines.
First make sure that you’ve turned on personalization. This ensures that Google Assistant can provide personal information like calendar and reminders. Go to the Google Home app, tap on Devices and select a device.
Toggle Personal results to on.
Now you are ready to set up routines.
Go to menu > more settings > Routines
You’ll see a list of routines listed. Select each to configure.
They are pretty limited at the moment. There are only 6 pre-defined routines and you cannot create your own custom ones. But theses ones cover almost all basic commands. Some of the routines are:
Good morning – Here you can group commands like taking your phone off silent, adjusting connected smart devices like the thermostat and lights, telling you about your day’s weather and calendar and playing music or starting a podcast from where you left off.
Bedtime – You can choose to have Assistant put your phone on silent, set an alarm, adjust lights and temperature and play sleep sounds or music.
Leaving home – Have Assistant adjust connected devices like plugs, lights and thermostat.
The other three routines are I’m home, Commuting to work and Commuting Home.
Setting Up Routines in Amazon Echo
You’ll need to have the Alexa app on your smartphone to setup routines.
To set up a new routine, tap on menu in the Alexa app and go to Routines. Click on the + sign to add a new routine.
Tap on When This Happens to choose which command you’ll use to trigger the routine. You can enter any command you want including Good morning, Good night, I’m home, It’s dinner time and so on.
Tap on Add action to select which actions will be performed under that routine. There are four main options: News, Smart Home, Traffic and Weather. Select any of them to configure.
Amazon also recently added the ability to add music to your routines, something that is already possible in Google Assistant.
You can modify or delete your routines at any time from the Alexa app.
Note: As with Google Assistant, you are also limited in terms of the actions you can add to routines. At the moment, you cannot create your own custom routines.
Routines are the easiest way to get the most out of your smart speaker. If you are not yet using them, time to get onboard. Granted, they are limited in what they can do. But I’m sure in the near future they’ll become much more versatile, even allowing you to create your own custom routines.