The two biggest selling products are the Amazon Echo range with Alexa voice assistant and the Google Home assistant both are really affordable with their mini-speakers costing less than 40 dollars/pounds.
Apple have added the Apple HomePod which is at a different price bracket for those hardened Apple fans.
If you’ve been given one of these smart speaker assistants or have given one to your mother for Mothers day or your father for Father’s Day, Here's the top 5 helpful things apps or skills for elderly people on Alexa.
1. List to Internet Radio and give them company and humour.
DAB radios are great, but can still be a little fiddly, remembering to programme your favourite channels, not losing them or remembering which button represents which station, instead use your voice simply asking for your channel to be played. Having a radio playing in the background especially a talk channel helps relieve loneliness which is common with the elderly that live at home alone.
Google Home speaker:
Say “OK Google or Hey Google” then ”Play [KISS] radio on Tunein”
Replace the radio station name [KISS] with the frequency like [98.5] or add the local region like [98.5 London] or [KISS LA]
Amazon Alexa Echo, Alexa Spot or other Alexa voice assistant range: Say “Alexa Play [KISS] radio”
2. Set Alarms, Timers and reminders – could help remind you to take medicine
Rather than looking for a timer or alarm when cooking, you could save space by giving them away as now the smart speaker can set alarms and timers using your voice.
Due to the low price of the mini-google home or echo-dot you may feel its affordable to have 2-3 speakers; one in the living room, the bedroom and one in the Kitchen.
This feature can be used to help set reminders to take medicine.
Wake-up Alarm: say “OK Google or Hey Google” set alarm for 6.30 am tomorrow”
Medicine reminder say “OK Google or Hey Google” set an alarm for 8am called "medicine countdown timer “ OK Google set countdown timer for 5 minutes” Amazon Alexa: Alarm’s : say “Alexa set alarm for 7 am tomorrow morning” “Alexa set a an alarm every day for 8 am”
"Alexa set a countdown timer for 10 minutes”
3. The weather forecast for the day or week – wear the right gear when going out.
Save time searching the internet or opening your favourite weather app by simply asking the weather today or if it’s going to rain, say “OK Google” or “Hey Google” or
“Alexa”: “What is todays weather?”
“Will it rain today”
"Will it rain tomorrow”
4. Play Music - Listen to your favourite songs.
Both Google Home and Amazon Alexa allow you to play your favourite song, artist, genre, album or playlist.
Not all songs or music is free due to a number of factors that would take a whole new blog, but there are millions of free songs, so try and ask Google or Alexa to “Play Music by [Artist name]” or “play song name”.
Spotify has a free music streaming service which after a few songs will play advertisements, or you can upgrade to the premium version is which is Ad free., once you have set-up Spotify by creating an account with Spotify (look at their website) and connected to your smart speaker, simply add to the end of the phrases “on Spoitfy” or “using Spotify” example “ Alexa play Thriller by Michael Jackson on spotify”
Paid for music
To get either full access to the majority of songs you can use Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Spotify premium, first set-up an account and the paid subscription service, link your account and you are ready to play your favourite tracks and songs bringing life into every part of your home.
Quality and price saving tip The Echo dot and google mini-home speakers are great but aren’t as good as a high quality speaker, they are both Bluetooth and can connect using Bluetooth to a decent Bluetooth speaker and can stream your music at a better quality.
5. Personal alert System on Alexa to get help fast when needed.
Use your voice and get help from your friends and family fast by simply saying either: “Alexa Start My SOS Family” for Amazon Echo/Alex Range or
for Google Home Speaker range say
“OK Google or “Hey Google” “talk to My SOS Family”
Your SOS contacts will be sent SMS’s, emails and receive automated alert phone calls telling them that the name of the user e.g. Dave needs help.
You can set up an all your emergency contacts number as SOS contacts, and even family or friends living abroad.
To stop all responders duplicating tasks or panicking, one of them has to take responsibility and this then informs all the others who is responding so they can “stand-down” knowing the SOS is being dealt with and by whom.
Contacts can be set-up to receive alerts simultaneously or staggered one after the other. You have to create an account with My SOS Family [here] and copy the password or reset it in the account.
Then link the account (username is your email) within the Amazon Alexa App or Google Home App.
All users are given 30 days and 10 alerts to test the system after which it downgrades to sending SOS alerts by email only, the alerts by SMS and phone calls are stopped unless it’s a paid account.