Have you ever wondered what in the world is going on with Alexa (Echo) and Google Home?  I mean, what is it really.  Is this the first wave of AI invading our homes and controlling our lives?  Maybe.  But how cool that I can order toothpaste to be delivered to my door by yelling at a little round box!?  And here we are, in 2018 with voice assistants in millions and millions of households.  Are you ready for the revolution?
The first question you may need to address is how to really use the device(s) to the fullest.  The top two on the market by market share is Amazon Echo and Google Home.  Amazon is overall winning the number of devices actually in homes.  So how do you use them?
The 2 major features are what are called “skills” and “briefings“.  Let’s look at them one at a time.
Flash Briefings – An Alexa flash briefing is like a short, under 10 minute, audio clip of info.  Basically, you are replacing your newspaper or morning show.  Your daily (or weekly) briefings that you add to your device can be your morning rundown of news, motivation, business tips, weather – whatever.  You “enable” them to be read by your device when you call out “Alexa, play my flash briefing”.  No need to check your phone, your computer, or turn your TV on – just wake up and ask your digital voice assistant to give you the rundown for the day.
Skills – are everything else the Amazon and Google device can do.  Basically, they are like apps created by developers on the backend of the Amazon or Google server so that you the consumer can make your device do things.  Things like controlling your light, or tell you a joke or funny quote from that one movie.  Or maybe tell you the price of your home or call your Realtor or plumber.  A skill must be enabled (downloaded) in your account for it to work on your device.  You pick and choose.  And all of them have voice commands to make them work properly.  The ability of these voice assistants to actually do things will be dependent on how creative and talented developers are to design the code and anticipate what the consumer wants to ask the device to do.
So in a nutshell – briefing is for breakfast and skills are for your day.  Or something like that.  Just know that briefings are just news or information that comes at you like a radio.  But skills are actual conversation or exchange of information between you and your Alexa or Google device.  Enjoy your new digital voice assistant and welcome to the future…or the now as it is.

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