I started with home automation the same way most people do.
I picked up an Amazon Echo Dot for under $20 and simply plugged it in.
I thought it was cool to be able to ask questions to Alexa and have her answer them. In the beginning some of the answers were spot on and sometimes she got them wrong which was funny.
But over time, Alexa started to get a little bit of an attitude with me. And I wasn’t the only one I learned after looking online that she was doing this too.
I actually had the Amazon echo and was using it for about a year before I started my journey with home automation.
In case you don’t know, Alexa is a voice assistant created by Amazon. Alexa can answer questions from the web, order products from amazon.com, and interact with selected devices in your home automation set up.
Strike 1 for Alexa
It started actually at night time. I like to fall asleep to the sound of rain or crashing waves. Alexa had a great channel for white noise at night. I could simply ask Alexa to “play ocean sounds” and I would get eight hours of uninterrupted beach sounds.
But then one night Alexa asked me if I wanted to subscribe to premium music for high Fidelity ocean noises. It was 11 o’clock at night on a Tuesday and I really didn’t feel like I wanted to sign up for premium music. I already use Apple Music and Spotify for that.
Strike 2 for Alexa
The next time Alexa get on my nerves was when I asked what the weather was in Fairbanks Alaska. I was just curious to see how cold it was one of the coldest places any dial states. Of course she answered, but then after the answer she volunteered to turn on an automation to tell me what the temperature was in Alaska every day. I live in Texas and really didn’t care for this information. By the way it was -17 in Fairbanks Alaska when I asked. I understand that Alexa was just trying to be helpful and suggest ways of making my life easier but she did this multiple times over the course of several interactions.
The final straw came around the holidays. Alexa of course there’s an Amazon product and a tie in between the two parts is quite tight. You can order things directly from Alexa and have them delivered to your door via Amazon Prime (use this link for 30 days free to try it out).
Alexa then shows a yellow ring on it. If yo say “play notifications” Alexa notifies you that your item has arrived. She also by default announced what the item was. It was a present for my kiddo that was supposed to be a surprise. When I asked Alexa to play notifications because she had a purple band she said your item a Lego set has arrived. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed that the surprise was blown.
Since I made the decision to stop using Alexa I had two other choices for voice control from my home. When was the Google assistant and the other was Apple and Siri with HomeKit. It was a pretty easy choice because I already had a lot of Apple products. Both my wife and I had iPhones my son uses an iPad, and our main computer is a MacBook Air.
I didn’t really know all the things that Siri could do and if she could replace Alexa. It turns out that aside from ordering directly from Amazon Siri is amazing at controlling the devices in my home and providing accurate web-based information without any extra suggestions.
Honestly I never really felt comfortable ordering directly from Alexa. It felt just a little bit creepy to me and too much like big Brother is watching.
As I did my research and learn more I realized that Siri also has one of the very best privacy policies among the three devices. Apple says that they will never share your information with third parties, and I believe and respect that. Over the years Apple has made incredible machines that follow Steve Jobs vision.