This week something amazing happened. For the first time, my family liked a new piece of home automation gear as much as I did. The device in question? The Echo Dot from Amazon.
I knew the Alexa voice assistant would solve a lot of my smart home problems by removing the friction that exists between most smart-home devices and the humans trying to use them — usually from an app. Nevertheless, I was surprised by the delight my wife expressed when controlling the mix of Philips Hue and Z-Wave lights in our living room. "It's so much better than Siri," she exclaimed. "And faster, too." My young daughter enjoys asking Alexa to play her favorite songs, and challenging "her" to math duels. Sadly, my daughter also prefers Alexa's jokes over my own.
But you've been hearing people wax on about Alexa for years right? I certainly have, which is why I brought one back to Amsterdam while on business in The States — two years was long enough to wait. Besides, I have to get ready for the Sonos integration coming in 2017. That's going to be a game-changer for my family.
So, I got to wondering: how many people either have, or are planning to add an intelligent voice assistant to their homes this holiday season? The Echo Dot was a great deal when the price dropped to $40 during Black Friday. Another option is the new Google Home speaker that just added Netflix support. Or maybe you're waiting for Microsoft to rollout its new HomeHub feature, or for Apple to finally get it together with the rumored Siri home appliance? Do tell, because the home computer we've been promised by science fiction is nearly here.