Whether you’re coming home from a long day of work, running errands, ushering kids, or wrangling dogs, here are 10 ways to use your smart devices to help you manage evening prep.
1. Find Recipes
Coming up with dinner ideas after a long day can be exhausting by itself. Get yourself out of that recipe rut by using your Alexa or Google enabled smart assistant for some help and inspiration in the kitchen. Best part? No dealing with splashes on your precious cookbooks, and hands-free recipe finding!
Pro tip: Simply asking for recipe ideas might be a bit overwhelming. Instead, try asking for recipes with specific ingredients you might have on hand.
For example, “Alexa/Hey Google, find me a recipe for cauliflower and chickpea tacos.”
Pro Tip 2: Have a recipe in mind, but forgot the measurements for the entire thing or a part of it, or the cooking temperature? Just ask your device for assistance! Ex, “Alexa/Hey Google, what temperature should I cook halibut on?”
2. Set a Timer
Are you in the middle of one of those overly complicated recipes and are too busy to punch in a timer? No problem, simply ask your smart speaker to keep track for you — you can even name each timer, for instance: “Alexa/Hey Google, start a brownies timer for 25 minutes.” You can also check up on the timer, reset, pause, or cancel it.
Pro Tip: Working on various items at once? No worries, you can set up multiple timers! You can bake, poach, and roast to perfection all with the assistance of your smart device timers.
3. Call Family and Friends
Forgot the measurements to grandma’s secret sauce? Use your smart device to give her a call while prepping that special dish. To place a call, simply say, “Alexa/Hey Google, call grandma Daisy.”
How to set up for calls:
- On Alexa: Open the Alexa app > tap the Communicate icon (the dialogue balloon icon)
If aren’t registered for Alexa-to-Alexa calling, you’ll be asked to confirm your name, allow access to your contacts, and verify your phone number.
Follow the on-screen instructions to enter and verify your mobile phone information.
Your mobile phone number will be associated with your account and is the number that appears to people you call through your Echo.
- On Google: Open the Google Home app > tap Account — make sure the correct Google Account is shown. To change accounts, tap the Down arrow > tap Settings >You > your data in the Assistant > device Information > turn on Device Information.
* it will take a few minutes for your contacts to sync up. Google currently supports calls within the US and Canada.
4. Order Takeout
Running short on time? You don’t always have to cook, now do you? Use your assistant to order takeout. There are over 100 Delivery & Takeout skills for Alexa — take advantage of them and just place an order. Among the most popular nationally-available skills are: GrubHub, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Fazoli’s, and Starbucks.
Pro Tip: Most of these skills are best used for reordering. Also, in order to get accurate results, set your current address on your device before launching the skill.
5. Show/Movie Streaming
One of our favorite uses for a smart device while in the kitchen — be it cooking or cleaning up — is movie and show streaming. You can easily stream shows on Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube or a number of other streaming services and subscriptions on your Echo Show, Google Home Hub, or other screened smart device. It’s as simple as saying, “Alexa, open The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” or “Alexa, Show me my video library (on Prime).” Or, “Hey Google, open Netflix.”
Pro Tip: For a larger selection, link your subscriptions.
- On Alexa: Follow on-screen prompts to log in with the account information for the supported provider.
- On Google: Open the Google Home app > tap Account (in the bottom right corner) > verify that the Google Account that is listed is the one linked to Google Home. — to switch accounts, click the triangle to the right of the account name >Make sure your mobile device or tablet is connected to the same Wi-Fi as your Google Home device> tap Settings or More settings > tap Services tab > Videos & Photos
If the app requires linking, tap LINK > LINK ACCOUNT >complete the sign in steps.
6. Catch up on the News
Instead of scrolling through another chaotic newsfeed, have Alexa or Google Home keep you up to date with the latest news or whatever other topics that interest you.
On Alexa: One of the best ways to get your news is by using Alexa’s flash briefings feature. To set it up, go to the Alexa App on your phone, Menu > Settings > Flash Briefing > Add Content. You can search by keyword or name, or scroll through the featured list to add. Once set just ask, “Alexa, what’s the latest news?”
On Google: Google Assistant mobile app under settings > news > add news sources. Once you’re done with your selection, just say, “Hey Google, what’s the most recent news?”
Pro tip 1: You can ask your Google Assistant about specific news topics. For instance, “Hey Google, what’s the latest news on Seattle?”
Pro tip 2: Tired of the current news cycle? Have Alexa lift your spirits, simply say, “Alexa, tell me some good [or positive] news.”
Our favorite news sources include: NPR Hourly News Summary, BBC World News, The New York Times, and CNN
7. Listen to Podcasts
If you’re a fan of podcasts, you can use your smart speakers to keep up with the latest episodes. There are several ways in which you can invoke your favorite podcasts.
To listen: Say, “Alexa/Hey Google, listen to Serial podcast.”
To continue listening: “Alexa/Hey Google, continue listening to Serial podcast.”
To listen to the most recent episode, “Alexa/Hey Google, listen to the latest episode of Serial.”
Listen to the next/previous episode, “Alexa/Hey Google, play next episode” … or “Previous.”
You can also, stop, pause, or resume.
Pro Tip: You can change the playback speed on both Alexa or your Google Home. To do so, state your desired playback speed. For example, say “Alexa/Hey Google, play slower/faster” … “Play twice as fast,” or “Play at half the speed.”
8. Play Music
Use music to unwind after a long day, or as a cooking or dinner companion. You can stream music from your Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, or iTunes account(s). You can also just ask Alexa or Google to play a specific song, genre, or music station.
Pro Tip: Set up your preferred streaming service on your device.
- On Alexa: Alexa defaults to Amazon Music. If you’d like to change your streaming service or link other music accounts go to your Alexa app> click on Menu (hamburger icon) > Settings > Music > Customize My Music Preferences > Choose Link New Service or Manage Services. You can also Click on Default Services to choose which one plays when asked to play music.
- On Google Home: By default, Google Home uses Google Play Music as its player. To change, simply go to your Google Home App > Settings > Linked Media Accounts > Music & Audio [to add subscriptions]
9. Make/Broadcast Announcements
Make an announcement to broadcast across your home via your Echo or Google enabled smart speakers. Simply say, “Alexa/Hey Google, announce [or broadcast] that dinner’s ready” and your message will broadcast to all Alexa or Google Assistant enabled speakers in your home.
Pro Tip: You can broadcast an Alexa announcement on Alexa enabled devices across your home via the Alexa app on your phone. For example, try announcing “I’ll be home with carryout soon!” from the Alexa app when you’re on your way home.
10. Play a Game
Sometimes, playing a game can be the best way to unwind. Your smart devices can be used to play a number of fun games. We’re fans of playing games while we clean up after dinner.
Simply ask your device to open up the game you’d like to play. For example, “Alexa/Hey Google, play Akinator.”
Others include: Would You Rather Family, Heads Up, Word of the Day, Jurassic World Revealed, Skyrim Very Special Edition, and Westworld: The Maze — with over 10,000 games on the Alexa platform available, you’ll never get bored!
There you have it, ten easy ways in which voice tech can help you manage your evenings.