Opinion: Smart speakers are sometimes a bit stupid

“Hey, Google!” Many people nowadays have a smart speaker at home. I also have one and I use it about twice a month. If it’s not less.

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Thick layer of dust on your smart speaker? You’re not the only one

I do not know if I would call my smart speaker really ‘smart’ now. Usually I grab my smartphone, tablet, laptop or even smartwatch faster to look for something or send a message. But why? A smart speaker has potential, right? Yes, but no. Let me explain it to you.

Speech recognition leaves a lot to be desired

Smart speakers are becoming more and more popular. Many households have an extra listening ear, in the form of a Google Nest, Amazon Alexa or Apple HomePod mini. These speakers are always on hand to answer your questions or perform small tasks. Do you want to hear a thigh chatter from a mop? Your smart speaker know advice with it. And the good news is, if you do not laugh, the speaker will do it for you.

This sounds pretty nice, of course, but I was looking forward to it after three jokes. Sometimes I ask a useful question, such as: “is it raining in Alkmaar today?” However, my Google Nest Mini does not understand me nine out of ten times. Then I have to say “hey, Google!” A few times. screaming before the device registers my voice.

Google Home Nest Mini
Google Nest Mini

I also regularly experience the opposite. Then Google starts telling a whole story without any interaction. Maybe I have ghosts in the house, but I think my speaker is not quite a hundred. Do you like devices that always work, no matter the situation? Then do not start with a smart speaker. My disobedient Nest Mini has removed the blood from under my nails several times.

Disappointing sound quality

“Hey Google, play Katy Perry on Spotify.” This sentence resounded throughout my house after the purchase of my smart speaker. “Okay,” Google said then (after a number of attempts) – “here’s Katy Perry on Spotify”. Plenty of enjoyment, however, did not succeed, because the sound quality of the speaker is, to say the least, undersized.

The Google Nest Mini struggles with low tones. So definitely do not expect bass to rumble through your brain. The sound sounds empty and quite tinny. That’s a missed opportunity, since a smart speaker – the term says it all – is a speaker.

lossless audio
Google Nest Audio

Some smart speakers do focus on sound quality. Think of Google Nest Audio. This speaker fills your house according to Google “with clear singing and powerful basses”. There are also smart speakers that have been developed in collaboration with major manufacturers. Think of brands like Sonos, Bose or JBL. However, these are a lot more expensive.

For music, at least I did not use my Google Nest Mini for a long time. I have now bought a separate bluetooth speaker for that. The possibilities of using a smart speaker become very scarce with a coarse sound quality. Is the ‘smart’ aspect then the only one selling point?

Smart speakers are not that smart in themselves

A smart speaker actually does nothing that your smartphone does not. And that is perhaps the biggest disadvantage. After all, smart speakers are not that smart. Besides, having a nice conversation is not in it, because it is and remains a device. You get a simple answer to your question and that’s it.

A smart speaker can be useful if you also have all kinds of other smart tech in your home. Think of a smart thermostat and Philips Hue lamps. This is because you can operate it in voice control with, for example, a Nest or Home speaker. All those extra smart gadgets are quite expensive – and so many users may not enjoy them.

And yet I would miss my smart speaker (a little)

I do not find my smart speaker at all fascinating, but I would still miss him a little. This is due to the handy timer function, which I use regularly during cooking. That’s how I do not smear my smartphone with pasta sauce. My Google Nest Mini is therefore prominent in the kitchen. In a wild mood, even asking for the latest news.

But let’s be honest, was that timer worth the purchase of my Google Nest Mini? No. Before you spend your pennies on a shiny HomePod, find out what features you would like to use. If your home is already smart, then a smart speaker might add something. In all other cases, I would like to spend my money on something else. A neighbor-angry bluetooth speaker, for example.

Do you have another experience with your smart speaker? Let us know in the comments below this article! Also, sign up for the Android Planet newsletter, download the Android Planet app and of course follow us via Instagram or Facebook.