Tips and tricks for voice control


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Tips and tricks for voice control

two way conversation with the smart speaker

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In this activity you’ll learn some pro tips for getting the most out of your smart speaker and voice assistant.

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Talking to the smart speaker

Pause after the activation phrase

You need to use an activation phrase such as “OK Google” to make your smart speaker pay attention and listen to your command. You’ll see some lights turn on, on the front of the speaker.

Pause slightly after saying the activation phrase to give the voice assistant time to wake up, before giving your voice command.

Don’t pause for more than a second or so, though, or the smart speaker will think you have decided not to say anything.

If this happens, you will hear a beep, the lights on the speaker will turn off and you’ll need to say the activation phrase again.

Speak in a clear voice

Voice assistant technology is getting better all the time, but it’s still best to speak in a clear, distinct voice. Imagine you are talking to someone on the far side of the room.

You don’t have to speak slowly, just clearly.

If the voice assistant can’t understand your command, it will reply with “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that”.

Talking in a mumbled voice
Speak clearly and directly

Ask direct questions

Most voice assistants are pretty good at understanding regular speech, but it’s best to be direct, even if it sounds blunt.

Say: “OK Google, play ABC radio national” instead of “OK Google, would you be able to please turn on ABC radio national if that’s okay?”

You can say please at the end if you like, but a voice assistant won’t be offended if you don’t!

What if the voice assistant doesn’t understand?

Sometimes a voice assistant will reply "Sorry, I don’t know how to do that" if it can’t answer your question. You can experiment by putting the question a different way.

Always remember that a voice assistant is just a computer. It responds better to direct commands, and struggles if you ask its opinion about things.

Asking google what you should cook for dinner
Asking google about don bradman

Voice assistant can also work as web search

Some voice assistants, such as the Google Assistant, work for normal web searches too. You can ask for information about, well, just about anything!

Instead of just giving you a list of web links in response, a voice assistant provides a spoken summary of the information you want.

Some commands need particular wording

You can speak to your voice assistant using plain English, but some commands need to be put in a certain way.

For instance, if say: “OK Google, play some jazz on the living room speaker”, the Google Assistant will play a random jazz track on the speaker that is labelled Living Room Speaker in the Google Home app.

If you say “OK Google, play ABC jazz” it will play the ABC Jazz internet radio station on the smart speaker itself.

Asking google to play jazz music
Asking google what else it can do

How you can learn special commands

To find out things your voice assistant can do, and to learn any special commands, you can ask: “OK Google, what can I do with voice commands?”

The Google Assistant will respond with some suggestions, and also tell you where to get more information on the internet.

Well done!

You’ve learned some Tips and tricks for voice control, including:

  • briefly pausing after saying the activation phrase
  • speaking clearly
  • asking direct questions

Next up, you can discover how a smart speaker and voice assistant can be useful for every day tasks, in the A day in the life of a voice assistant activity.

The smart speaker