I will write three blogposts about Android. This is the first one and is about Voice Assistant.
It is very cold today (31-Jan-2018) in Hong Kong. It is about 9-10c most of the time. Clear air at night but the Blue Moon keeps staying behind the cloud.
Voice interface is a very hot topic recently. Some believes Voice will replace Touch as the most popular computing interface, and people will interact with smart speaker/earpiece more than smartphone in the future.
Voice computing is interesting. Apple is launching is HomePod to compete with Amazon echo and Google home. I have been using Siri (occasionally) for many years. Siri cannot do much in Hong Kong (no “tell me the news”). Echo is not officially available in the Hong Kong. But we have Android Nougat and Google Assistant in Asia. I have a ASUS Zenfone 3. I can do more things with Google Assistant and write about it!
“Let there be light”, say this phase and the lamp is turned on is very very SciFi.
Most of the time I am the one to switch on/off the lights in my room. There are a few illumination devices in my room and I have to move my body physically to control them. It is very interesting, or inspiring, if I can stay still and turn on/off them. (Especially great if I can turn off the light when I’m laying in bed, finish bedside reading and go to sleep in a freezing cold evening!)
I want to experience smart home.
Smart plugs and smart bulbs are expensive, especially those supporting Apple HomeKit. We don’t have many options in Hong Kong. I decided to start my smart home experiment on Google Home platform. I picked up TP-Link HS110 as my first smart home device a few weeks ago.
I like this smart plug because
1.It supports Google Home and Alexa. I want choice and flexibility.
2.TP-Link Kasa mobile app supports both Android and iOS. I can control the plug on iPhone or Zenfone.
3.TP-Link is a reliable brand! Smart plug is a electronic gadget which requires future software update to do more and to become secure. A good brand helps me to protect my investment. I want to use my simple-tasked smart plug for a few years!
After I connect HS110 to my wifi and configure it with the Kasa app, It is easy to set up Google Assistant to control HS110 on Nougat. Follow the “How to Link Google Assistant to your TP-Link Kasa Account (Smartphone App)” guide, go to Google app -> Settings -> Google Assistant -> Settings -> Home Control and then add the TP-Link Kasa. Then give HS110 a name. That’s all and I can say “turn on” to switch on the plug and the lamp connected! It is fun! (More smart home in the coming post).
“What time is London when Hong Kong is 5pm?”
My second use case for voice assistant is to check time. I will meet customers around the world, in different cities and different time zones. When schedule meeting, web tool (e.g. http://www.timeanddate.com) or app (e.g. Time Buddy) are very useful to check the times in different cities. It is not a complicated task, what I have to do is to select a time in pulldown menu or a sliding window. That said, when I write email and propose meeting schedules, it is great if I can focus on the mail client writing the message without switching to another application. It is handy if I can find the time of another city by asking “Hey Google, what time is London when Hong Kong is 5pm”! It just works!
It is sad that Siri cannot do what Google Assistant can!
“Please tell me something.”
My third use case is to talk to something when I am alone (and don’t want to do anything), and get some responses in return. Yes, just that simple. Google Assistant again does a better job that Siri!
I know the cost is high (to let myself becoming a Google product) to use Google Assistant effectively and usefully. Hope Apple improves Siri faster!
There is one thing Apple is better: the Listen for “Hey Siri” feature. Siri can always respond. Google Assistant can respond only when the smartphone screen is on. I have to keep my Zenfone 3 screen always on to make it acts like a smart speaker. I need to do something. Let’s talk about it next time.
Last but not least, half of this article is written VERBALLY!