Let your smart assistant turn on the flashlight, set timers and more
Communication can be challenging at the best of times, but it’s especially rough when you’re talking to a robot. Often, Alexa will spit out, “Sorry, I don’t know that one,” or Siri will say, “I’m not sure I understand.” Tap or click here to help Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant understand you better.
Despite the occasional frustration, having a smart assistant can do you good. If he listens closely, he can turn on lights, open apps, and even play music. You also get a hands-free way to call other people, which is great if you gobble up Cheetos and don’t want orange dust seeping over your screen.
If you want a healthy relationship with your smart assistant, improve your communication style. For example, some words and phrases work much better than others. That’s why we share some of the most effective phrases that you may not even know.
1. Turn on the flashlight
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stubbed my toes while stumbling around my house. You may be wondering, “Why not turn on the light switches in your hallway?” Well, when it’s 4 a.m. and you wake up disoriented from detailed dreams of dancing pigs, it’s easy to look for the switch, fail, and decide you can find the bathroom on your own.
A bruised big toe later and you soon realize you need light after all. Fortunately, your smart assistant can help, no matter how confused your dreams have left you. Just grab your phone and say, “Turn on the flashlight.”
Daily tech news that matters to you
Privacy, security, the latest trends and the information you need to live your best digital life.
This is an easy way to let there be light — without fiddling through your settings or turning on the lights. This works for both Siri and Google Assistant. Say the wake word first to make sure they are listening.
Fun fact: If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you can say “Lumos.” It refers to the spell Harry and his friends use to light their wands. Speaking of which, tap or click here to read JK Rowling’s lost story online for free.
2. Add to my calendar
This is a lifesaver. It’s easy to make spontaneous plans when you’re talking to people. Then, when the appointment time finally hits, you forget about it altogether.
That’s because you haven’t taken the time to add it to your calendar. We get it – this is an easy mistake to make, especially if you have multiple calendars and accidentally write the event on the wrong one. A simple solution is to tell your smart assistant to add the event to your calendar.
Just tell Siri or Google Assistant your subscription and a date and time. For example, you can say, “Hey Siri, arrange a lunch meeting with Bob tomorrow at 1:00 PM”. You can also be more specific, like: “Hey Google, add an event called Birthday Dinner on Sunday at 4:00 PM”
If you have multiple calendars, specify which one, otherwise it will fall into your default calendar. You can see the event from there. Just attach it and you’re good to go. You can of course change and cancel the event later.
Siri automatically connects to Apple’s Calendar app. However, if you’re using Google Calendar, you’ll need to add it to Apple’s default app. Here’s how to make the two apps play nicely together†
3. Set a timer
It’s easy to lose track of time. When you’re multitasking, distractions are constantly popping up.
One minute you’re about to set a timer to cook the chicken. Then you hear a loud thud from the other room and one of the kids starts yelling at you. With a single sentence to your smart assistant, you can put a pin in your current task before running off to put out a fire elsewhere.
To set a timer, tell Siri or Google Assistant, “Set a timer for 10 minutes,” or however long you need. For example, if you say, “Set a timer for 20 minutes called chicken”, a new timer labeled “chicken” will start.
You can also add multiple timers to it. We recommend using labels to keep track of everything.
However, this feature doesn’t just apply to smart assistants on your phone. Your Amazon Alexa-enabled devices can also help. Tap or click here to let Alexa set reminders, timers, and alarms.
4. Mute my phone
Sometimes your phone is the source of frustration. Imagine that you are in the middle of a church ceremony and the pastor tells an emotional story. It is so impressive that there is not a single dry eye on the pulpit.
The pastor pauses for a breath. Then, in the silence, your phone will burst when someone calls you. Your ringtone blasts down the aisles and everyone turns to stare at you.
Situations like this can be downright humiliating. Before going to church, starting a meeting, or sitting down for a job interview, put your phone on silent.
This doesn’t even require a search through your settings. Hold up your phone and say “Siri, turn off my phone” or “Google Assistant, turn off my phone”. You saved yourself a lot of embarrassment this way.
Oh, and it’s also super useful for reducing distracting notifications. Tap or click here for a quick and easy way to stop phone notifications.
5. That wasn’t for you
This one is my favorite. If you didn’t already know, your smart assistant is often activated by accident. The AI may think you said the hot word, when in reality you didn’t mean it that way. If you say something akin to “Siri” or “Hey Google,” it can prick up its ears, so to speak.
This can be a problem if your assistant is set up to record everything you say to them.
Kim recently flipped through her Amazon Alexa recordings. She found a few voice clips that didn’t involve Alexa at all, including some private discussions about buying real estate. Tap or click here to find out everything Amazon knows about you.
Fortunately, Siri and Google Assistant both make distinctive sounds when activated. To stop the Google Assistant from recording the rest of your conversation, say, “That wasn’t for you.” This will also delete everything from your history.
You can also tell Siri “That wasn’t for you” when it accidentally turns on. However, Apple has not officially said whether this phrase will erase your previous recording from memory. Tap or click here to stop all your smart devices from listening to you and recording what you say.
Stop listening! 1000 phrases that can trigger Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google
Pop Quiz: Between Alexa, Siri, Cortana and the Rest, What Collects the Most Data?