“Hey Google, Alexa, let’s get stuff done.”
Smart speakers have become commonplace, but there’s now an upgrade available: the smart display. It’s essentially a smart speaker with a screen attached, like the Google Home Hub or the Amazon Echo Show, but the screen gives you a few more options for voice commands, as well as visual readouts for certain answers.
Whether you’ve got a smart display powered by Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, here are some of the cleverest commands you can use to make the most of that screen.
1. “Hey Google, play cycling videos on YouTube.”
You have a display, so use it. This command will queue up a series of YouTube videos on a topic of your choice—just replace “cycling” with a subject, musician, YouTube channel, or whatever else you desire. Depending on how specific your request is, a list of video choices might appear, or the screen will start playback straight away.
2. “Hey Google, how far is it to New York?”
This is a command that also works with smart speakers, but only smart displays can actually show you the route to wherever you’re going. The option to Save this place will also appear on screen; tapping this button will send the location to Google Maps on your phone.
3. “Hey Google, show me my photos from Sydney.”
Photos work well on a smart display, too. If your images are saved in Google Photos, your Google Assistant-powered device can bring them up on-screen. Just ask to see pictures from a specific place, person, or time. You can also take out “my” to pull up images from a general web search.
4. “Hey Google, show me some recipes for carrot soup.”
Another area every Google Assistant-powered smart display excels in is cooking—a lot of people must be setting these devices up in their kitchens. Ask about recipes for any dish to bring up a list of options, then pick one to see step-by-step instructions, the necessary ingredients, how long it takes to make, and more.
5. “Hey Google, play songs by R.E.M.”
With the added bonus of a screen, your smart display can show you what you’re listening to while it plays audio, and you can even tap the screen to pause playback or skip tracks. By default, smart displays running Google Assistant source tunes from YouTube Music, but you can set up other music apps via Google Home on your phone.
6. “Hey Google, good morning.”
Your smart display can combine several responses to match one command, like this “good morning” one. By default, the device will return the time, the weather forecast in your region, upcoming appointments on your Google Calendar, and news headlines, but you can customize these responses via the Google Home app on your phone.
7. “Hey Google, what was the Yankees score?”
Your smart display knows its sports, and you can ask it for the latest score or details on upcoming matches for whatever team you’re interested in. When viewing recent scores, you may get the option to watch a video clip of highlights from the game, as well as see the score displayed on screen—something a smart speaker can’t do.
8. “Hey Google, call Dad.”
Another area where smart displays obviously come in handy: video calls. You’ll need to set this up first in the Google Home app on your phone, but after that it’s just a question of asking Google to call someone on your contacts list. For this to work, the person on the other end needs Google Duo installed on a device, and if you want two-way video, they must also have a camera.
9. “Hey Google, turn the bedroom lights off.”
Through the Google Home app on your phone, your Google Assistant smart display can control compatible smart home devices. So, if you’ve added smart lights in the Google Home app, you can use a voice command with your smart display to turn them on or off. You can also swipe down from the top of the screen to access touch controls.
10. “Hey Google, show my Nest camera.”
This being a smart display, you can pipe in video footage from any compatible security camera. You’ll just need to set up this capability in the Google Home app on your phone first. With that done, simply insert the name of the device in question into your command. Cameras from Arlo, Logi, Nest, Netatmo, TP-Link, Zmodo, and others can all be added.