- Smart home assistants raise concerns about privacy, security, and data usage.
- Television commercials can sometimes activate smart home assistants unintentionally.
- Different product families of smart home assistants have varying capabilities, making it confusing for users.
- Smart home assistants are dependent on a reliable internet connection to function correctly.
- Alternatives to smart home assistants include manual control, home automation hubs, and using voice assistants on other devices.
Smart home assistants like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Alexa become more popular yearly. And that’s because they do more than “add to your shopping list.” For example, you can connect your lighting and appliances to Wi-Fi and control them with smart home assistants.
But just like any technology, there are some drawbacks. We’ll explain why you should avoid a new smart home assistant. But first, some background information on them.
Some Background on the Smart Home Assistant
Smart home assistants are voice-activated devices designed to integrate and control various smart home devices and services. They typically connect to the Internet and offer features such as voice commands, music playback, home automation, and access to information and services through voice interactions.
Examples of smart home assistants include Alexa with Amazon Echo and Google Assistant with Google Home. These assistants use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to hear your commands and then process and respond to them.
They are increasingly popular in modern households. However, while they offer convenience and functionality, they also raise concerns about privacy, security, and data usage.
Whether you want to purchase or avoid a new smart home assistant, there’s no denying that they allow you to control your home without leaving your couch. Turn on lights, preheat your oven, or start your lawn sprinklers quickly.
|Product Family||Models||Smart Home Integration|
|Amazon||DotEcho Studio: Echo Show||Alexa & Amazon Ecosystem|
|Apple||HomePod||Siri & Apple Ecosystem|
|Google Home||Nest Audio, Nest Mini, Nest Hub||Google Assistant & Ecosystem|
Reasons to Avoid a Smart Home Assistant
You have to admit it’s fun to ask Alexa what the weather will be tomorrow and get an immediate answer. There’s just something futuristic about the whole thing, and that’s exciting.
But there are reasons to avoid a smart home assistant. Unfortunately, they still have room to improve, so let’s look at some areas these assistants can “belly up to the bar” slightly.
Smart Home Privacy
The most significant reason some people avoid a new smart home assistant is their fear of invaded privacy. But, in a sense, these devices listen all the time. Or how would they hear their launch phrases, like “Ok Google” or “Alexa?” (Isn’t it more than a little bizarre when you’re chatting in your home about something, and then Google will give you a sales pitch on your cell phone?)
Each time you make an assistant request, it passes through the company’s server, which builds a profile about your buying habits. To be fair, that’s no different than what happens in a Google search or Amazon lookup. But it somehow feels different with smart speakers and assistants.
Data Usage Concerns
Data usage concerns with smart home assistants revolve around the collection, storage, and potential sharing of personal information or conversations the devices capture. In addition, users may worry about how their data is being used, analyzed, and potentially shared with third parties.
Wake or Launch Phrase
When you speak to it, the rest of your smart devices might also respond to the launch phrase, particularly with Google Home. Television commercials can even activate some smart home assistants, and that’s a pain.
Doesn’t Hear You From A Distance
What else is there to say? A good reason to avoid a new smart home assistant is that sometimes you have to yell for the microphone to hear your voice. Unlike above, when they all wake up even if you don’t want them to.
Different Product Families Have Different Capabilities
Smartphones started off being worlds apart in functionality and now do pretty much the same things. And in the same way, smart home assistants will have similar capabilities.
But, the Apple Home assistants currently work best with other Apple devices, just as Google Home works best with Android devices. Of course, Amazon has already figured this out, and its products work well with most devices. But knowing which option to pick for the functions you’ll use the most can get confusing.
Always Need A Plugin
Even though some of these devices say they are wireless, they still need a plugin to charge. And ideally, you’ll keep them plugged in, or you’ll constantly run out of power. So, while requiring a plugin isn’t a huge deal breaker, it could be inconvenient for where you want to locate a device.
The potential security risk is another reason to avoid a new smart home assistant. These devices are connected, so hackers could potentially gain access. While it’s unlikely to happen any more often than on your phone or FaceBook account, some people have security concerns.
A reliable and steady Internet connection is necessary for a smart home assistant to function correctly. So if you have connectivity issues, you may not want heavily Internet-dependent devices.
Alternatives to Smart Home Assistant
If you want to avoid a new smart home assistant, here are some excellent alternatives.
You can manually control your devices instead of relying on a smart home assistant. Many smart devices, such as smart light bulbs or thermostats, come with dedicated mobile apps or physical controls that allow you to adjust settings and manage them without needing a central assistant.
Home Automation Hubs
Hubs, like Samsung SmartThings or Hubitat Elevation, offer a centralized control system for your smart home devices. These hubs allow you to connect and manage several devices from different manufacturers using a single platform.
In addition, they often have user-friendly interfaces and provide more control over your devices without the privacy concerns associated with voice-activated assistants.
One of the best options is the Samsung SmartThings.
- Simple connection via SmartThings app
- Tag all your devices
- Control all your smart appliances
- 15W super fast wireless charger
Other great options include:
- Hubitat Elevation
- Zigbee Hub Gateway
- Aeotec Smart Home Hub
Want to control your garage doors and fireplaces? You can also get the fast and reliable Zen16.
- Powerful Z-wave Plus signal
- Easy DIY installation
- Perfect for garage doors, sprinklers, gas fireplace
- 3 dry contact relays (15A, 15A, 20A)
- Works well with Hubitat, Vera, openHAB, and on SmartThings
Smart Device Control via Voice Assistants on Other Devices
If you already own devices with voice assistants, such as smartphones or smart speakers, you can utilize their capabilities to control your smart home devices. In addition, many smart devices work with popular voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, allowing you to control them through your existing devices without purchasing a dedicated smart home assistant.
- Impressive wall-to-wall stereo sound
- Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in
- Supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi network connections
- Control speaker with voice, music app, or touch presets
- Make or take calls hands-free
We’ve shared some of the primary reasons to avoid a new smart home assistant so that you can make informed buying decisions. Smart home assistants have privacy, security, and mildly annoying issues. So, you’d want to think carefully before making a purchase. Your other best options are manual control through device apps, home automation hubs, and smart speakers.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Panthere Noire/Shutterstock.com.