Google has now come out with their Home Mini, and Home Max Smart Speakers to compete with Amazon’s Echo line. A few years ago when the tech industry started talking about smart speakers I really thought I would be buying them soon, but have come to cherish good “old fashioned” bluetooth speakers instead. I own 2 Bose Solo 5 Sound Bars for my home and legitimately have zero interest in smart speakers now.
Here’s the funny thing with the sales pitch for smart speakers. They are speakers, with built in voice control and access to the various platforms. Taken alone this would seem to be a winning pitch, but for both my wife and I we are never very far from our smart phones. My iPhone SE sits on my desk while I’m working, in my pocket when I’m working out, and on the hall table where we keep our keys and such when the day is done. It literally is either within easy grasp, or at worst is a few steps away. My iPhone gives me a full user interface that allows me to interact with any app or website I want. I can click on Apple Music, or YouTube, or add a Note in a manner that I find completely fine.
By purchasing Bose Bluetooth speakers I was able to vastly improve the sound from the smart phones or my Mac. The Solo 5 Sound Bars allow you to connect up to 2 bluetooth devices at one. So in my office my Mac and iPhone are connected to the Solo on my desk. Then in the living room my wife and my iPhones share a connection for that one. Beyond the Bluetooth connection you also get optic, coax and aux connections so that wired devices can use the Sound Bars too.
Buying Bluetooth speakers I can pay just for what I need. For $250 I get very good sound quality and don’t have to pay for an additional computer to control the speakers since that is what the smart phones we already own can do. Past that I don’t have to worry about updates and how long the speakers will be “supported” by a manufacturer. The final benefit is I’m not locked into anyone’s service. If I switch my smart phone to Android, or something else I don’t have to concern myself if the speaker will support the apps I care about.
From a security standpoint I don’t have to worry about numerous devices all constantly being able to listen to anything that is said in my house. Also I don’t have to worry about malware and viruses infecting gadgets I guarantee I’ll never get around to updating. Finally I don’t have to worry about someone being able to access my information through a voice interface, or the bigger concern having the devices mix up whose profile to store notes, appointments, and preferences under. (Family accounts are an NIGHTMARE)
I’m not snarky on smart speakers. They are cool technology that works very well in general, and has a decent price point. I feel with the smart speakers that they are yet another device from vendors that focuses on them wanting to ship product rather than thinking about how most people already use technology. In a world where people check their phone during sex what’s the point of a smart speaker? An app that makes pairing and controlling Bluetooth speakers easier would be far more useful at the end of the day.