How To Enable Quick Phrases On Your Google Assistant

How To Enable Quick Phrases On Your Google Assistant

I know many of you may be using Google Assistant, but wouldn’t it be even better to use the new Google Assistant tips in your life or work to make life easier? What if you’re looking for something new to say instead of “Hey Google!” or “Okay, Google” to start a Google Assistant command? There’s this cool little feature with Google Assistants called Quick Phrases that is one of my new favorite things. And when it comes to smart home automation, using quick phrases is going to help you inch closer and closer to optimal efficiency.

This relatively new Google Assistant tip will help you eliminate having to say that Google prompt phrase every time. You can speed up your interactions with Google Assistant by using pre-set commands through this feature as well. We cover everything you need to know about enabling quick phrases on Google Assistant. If you have a Pixel 6 or newer Pixel Phone then just go to your Google Assistant and Enable Quick Phrases on Google Assistant, which simplifies the interaction for things like incoming calls, alarms, and timers, instead of typing on keyboards. And makes your life a little more efficient without saying “Hey Google”. 

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How Quick Phrases On Google Assistant are Helpful

Until now, whenever you wanted the help of Google Assistant, you had to say “Hey Google” or “OK Google” at the start.  Like “Hey Google, Set an alarm for 8:00 am” or “Okay Google, shut down my smart home.” But now you don’t need to say “Hey Google” all the time because of this time-saving feature of Google Assistant. With quick phrases, asking Google for help just got easier than ever while also staying secure. Setting an alarm, turning lights off and on, adjusting the smart thermostat temperature, changing the mood lighting in your bedroom, or setting a timer all become a little bit easier. 

Suppose, if you are washing your hands or doing some kitchen work and you have a phone call then you can simply say “Answer” or also “Decline”.  It’s that easy. Or you can also say “Silence” to silence your ringer. You can thank quick phrases for such an efficient feature.

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How to Enable Quick Phrases on Google Assistant

Enabling quick phrases on Google Assistant is super slick and super easy. Here’s how…

  1. Simply open the Google Home App.
  2. At the top right corner, here you’ll see your Account, tap it.
  3. Go to Settings.
  4. And then click on Assistant Settings and tap Quick Phrases.
  5. Just scroll Quick Phrases and tap Add + the quick phrases which you want.

Quick Tip: I would start with adding 3-5 quick phrases just to get used to the process. From there once you feel comfortable, begin adding more quick phrases to your regimen. I’d also start with the ones you use the most. If there’s some obscure Google Assistant command that you hardly use, I wouldn’t add it yet. 

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Using Quick Phrases

Once you have the phrases you want set up, you don’t need to say “Ok Google”. Simply say the phrase to your Google Assistant to use a quick phrase you’ve added. For example, if you want to set a timer using quick phrases, then say: “Set a timer for 10 minutes”. 

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Or if you want to stop the alarm then you don’t need to tap the stop button. You can easily say: “Stop” or “Stop the Alarm”. That means you can say it naturally and can add specific details to it, these are acceptable phrases. You can turn on voice match so that these quick phrases are only accessible only to you. 

Some Quick Phrases examples to use:

1. “Turn on the kitchen lights”.

2. “Set an alarm for 7:00 am”.

3. “Shut down the Bat Cave.”

4. “Set a remind for ____”

5. “Create a calendar event for ____”

How To Set up Philips Hue Without Bridge

How To Set up Philips Hue Without Bridge

Philips Hue is a smart lighting system that uses your existing wireless network. It has WiFi light bulbs, LED lights, and a bridge that connects them to the network. It’s innovative, but the setup can be complicated especially for newbies to the smart home ecosystem.

We wanted to dive a little bit into the process to set up Philips Hue without Bridge; to simplify it because we’ve seen a handful of users complain about the difficulty of using Philips smart bulbs without the bridge. Certain options (if you know what you’re looking for), such as Bluetooth or Dimmer Switch, can help you complete the Philips Hue Smart lighting setup without a bridge.

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Philips Hue Bluetooth Bulbs

Philips Hue Bluetooth bulbs are a great addition to any room. With these bulbs, you can forgo the option of not needing to use the Hub at all and just use the Bluetooth connection to sync the bulbs. I’m not the biggest fans of hubs. I’ll use them where I absolutely have to, but leveraging Bluetooth for connectivity is simple and effective. Previously, the Philips BT App used this feature, but now the Bluetooth feature is also included in the Hue app.

Although Philips Bluetooth is a great feature, it has a few limitations. For example, you’re limited to using only 10 bulbs without any provided remote control by the company. Not a deal-breaker, but if you want to go nuts and really light your smart home this might cause some frustration. Third-party app integrations are not supported for integration. Also, the connection is a bit weak for creating large groups of bulbs at the farthest ends of a house. With this option, the grouping wouldn’t be available with these bulbs either. However, technically, one can create groups within a room, so there is a slight workaround in that regard. This can give you free rein over the aesthetics and dynamics of the room. Overall, the Philips Hue bulb is a great addition to any house and the Google Seamless setup can be integrated to make them work without using a Hue bridge.

LEARN MORE: Home Automation FAQs

Using A Hue Dimmer Switch

The Hue Dimmer Switch controls the Hue Bulb when you buy the two together. What’s nice is you don’t have to go through the hustle of connecting the two because they are linked together. The dimmer switch operates via a battery.

You can put the bulb in the socket and turn it on with the dimmer switch. Super easy. The switch allows turning the bulb on or off and controlling the intensity of light. It does not control the change of the light color in the bulb. For that, you’ll have to use the hue bridge. I wish (if you make dimmer switches here’s one of my free tips for innovation) these switches were multi-dimensional, which would give you the option of controlling the intensity of light along with the color (at least warm vs soft light which shouldn’t be that difficult to program).

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A dimmer switch works like the switch of a light bulb and it supports up to 10 bulbs. It comes with a connected LED light which is synced with the bulb to confirm the establishment of a connection between the two. It is one of the easiest ways to set up Philips hue lights without a bridge. For the extreme novice user of these smart bulbs, it’s the route I’d recommend.

Philip Setup With Amazon Echo Hub

Philips Hue Bulbs are supported by a feature that allows one to use Zigbee smart home hubs supported by Zigbee standards. You can use Hue bulbs after completing the setup of Amazon’s Echo speaker models.

Echo speakers, such as the Amazon Echo Plus, Amazon Echo Show 10 (not first-gen), (4th-gen) Echo, and Echo Studio can be used as Zigbee hubs to support the Philip setup without a bridge. After using Echo speakers, use the Alexa app to search for the hue bulb. Once the device is detected, the next part is adding the hue bulb by using the plus button on the interface of your screen.

Custom scenes cannot be created (as of the date this was published), but you can group smart lights of different brands with the Amazon Echo hub option. For controlling the light, Alexa can be used to control all the features of light by using your voice or entering the instructions on Alexa.

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Using An Ikea Trådfri Gateway As A Hub

The Ikea Tradfri gateway plugs directly into an outlet and controls the communication between your phone and the bulbs. The smart bulbs are already installed by you, and you have to connect the Ikea Tradfri gateway directly to the router.

After this, it starts working. The semi-simple process is to hold and press the button for ten seconds within approximately two centimeters of the router. After releasing the button, the light will blink, confirming that the hue light has been added. The Ikea Tradfri system is great because it saves the person from the hustle of plugging two hubs into the router.  

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However, there are certain limitations, such as you can’t enjoy scheduling, geolocating, and color cycling options that otherwise you could enjoy with a hue bridge. But, the Ikea Tradfri gateway is a great option to be used as an alternative to Philip’s set-up with a hue bridge.

To Bridge Or Not To Bridge

There are a lot of reasons why I like the option to use the bridge and there are some reasons I’d opt out. Chief among them, the Philips Hue bridge makes it easy to control all of your Philips smart bulbs from one central location. Whether that’s your smartphone, tablet, or computer…it doesn’t matter. With the bridge, you can easily turn lights on or off, dim or brighten them, and even change their color. You can also create custom lighting scenes for different occasions, so your home always has the perfect ambiance. You truly unlock the technology’s potential by using it. On the flip side, setting up your Philips smart bulbs with Amazon Alexa is really easy and if you have your smart home ecosystem integrated already with Alexa, it’s a no-brainer.

What I love about the innovation and evolution of technology (smart home technology included) is the improvements being made to fit the end user. Gone are the days when a person would have to stick to one process of setting up a lighting system. Nowadays, there are alternatives and options, which I’m a big fan of.

How to Make Calls on Your Google Smart Speaker

How to Make Calls on Your Google Smart Speaker

Google Home App has introduced a very useful feature that allows users to make calls to all their contacts rather effortlessly. What’s nice is this added feature lets a person set up a Google Home App and then use its modified features to make calls from smart speakers to businesses or personal contacts. If the technology was completely synced with all of your smart devices (smart watch, smartphone, wireless earbuds), I could see how this would be a major component for your smart home. But some of these wishes just aren’t there yet. And to be honest…despite what you might think, the process of setting this up is quite simple. You just have to make sure you have the latest software version and follow the steps to make calls through Google conveniently.

Setting Up Calls On Google Home

  • The first step in making calls to your desired (business or personal) contacts is to configure the prerequisite settings on the device. 
  • To make a call to your Google contacts, you must go to Settings. In the settings, you have to tap on the “more settings” feature. 
  • Locate the tab named Devices 
  • Here, you have to add the desired contact by selecting a speaker of your choice. 
  • While doing so, you must ensure that your personal results toggle is turned on.

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Syncing Your Contacts

The process of syncing the contacts on Android or iOS works differently. 

For Android

  1. You have to go to Google Home App. 
  2. In the Google Home app, select manage your Google account
  3. In the Google Account, there is a feature named People and Sharing
  4. In this feature, tap on contact info from your devices, and simply turn on save contacts from your signed-in devices.

For iOS

  1. Go to the Google Home app and tap on settings. 
  2. In settings, hit the more settings tab and select voice and video calls from the services tab. 
  3. Here, select the Mobile Calling tab that appears, and turn on the ‘Contacts uploading’ tab. 
  4. After that, a pop-up will appear asking for permission. If permission is granted, the contacts will successfully be synced.

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Add Or Hide Your Number:

In the Google Home app, you can hide your number and appear as a private caller or with your identity. 

  1. Click on the Settings tab, tap more settings, and select Services.
  2. In Services, tap on Voice and Video Calls and Mobile Calling to change your name from Private to your name. 
  3. You will be asked to confirm the action via an SMS. 
  4. Once the technical formalities are done, your number is added to the selected name. 

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Making Phone Calls On Google Home:

To make a call to your desired contact, you will have to say, ‘Hey, Google, call (contact)’. From here, there are two possibilities:

  • If you want to call any popular business, you just have to mention the name of that business. Google can automatically take you to the phone line of the business. 
  • If you want to call any personal contact, you have to say the number out loud for Google to connect to the caller. The person you call doesn’t have to go through any prerequisites to receive the call. 

How To End A Call?

Voice commands such as, “Hey Google, stop/disconnect/hang up/end the call” can be used to end the call. But Google provides users with other options as well. 

The other options include Google Nest Hub, Hub Max, and Google Nest Mini. 

  • In Google Nest Hub, a button on the screen allows you to decide on your calls (answer/decline/hang). 
  • In Google Nest Mini, one can tap the speaker’s top to answer or hold a finger down to decline the call. 
  • Additionally, if you have a Google Home Max, you may answer calls by tapping the line on the top or side of the speaker, depending on how it’s oriented, or by pressing and holding the line.

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Setting Up Voice Match For Google Home Calls:

If you have a Google Home App running on your phone, the next step is to train your Google assistant. After that, the assistant will work by recognizing your voice. The only real necessity of this is that your personal accounts must be synced so that it picks the calls and access your contacts based on the settings you have selected. 

Bottom Line 

Making calls from Google Smart Speaker has enabled people to shift from obsolete ways of calling and bring communication into the future. Previously, Google Assistant helped people in making calls. Now, the Google Home App has made it possible to contact anyone essentially from any part of the world with just an app. 

There are a lot of nice things about making phone calls using your smart speaker. In a lot of regards, it is convenient. For example, the Google Home App detects the speaker’s voice once the setup is completed. You have to personalize all the settings to make use of the feature to the fullest. Once everything is set, you just have to say the command, and Google will dial up that call for you.

Now…this isn’t something I use often. Most of the time when I make calls through a smart speaker, it’s when I don’t have my phone or wireless headphones near me. In this regard, this feature is awesome. But having the ability to make a phone call through my wireless buds (connected to my phone) or even through my smartwatch is much more convenient than doing it through one of these smart speakers. Nonetheless, for those that don’t have these smart accessories that pair with their smartphones, making a call through your Google smart speaker definitely has it’s purpose.

Social Media Layoffs: The Impact It Will Have On You And Your Digital Citizenship

Social Media Layoffs: The Impact It Will Have On You And Your Digital Citizenship

In recent weeks, both Twitter and Facebook have made headlines for laying off a significant number of employees. An estimated 7500 employees were laid off at Twitter and it’s been reported that Meta (Facebook’s parent company) laid off more than 11,000. While these layoffs are undoubtedly having an impact on the companies themselves, they also raise important questions about what they could mean for the users of these social media platforms. Quite frankly, I’m shocked this isn’t one of the main takeaways from all of this. Let’s take a closer look at the potential implications of these layoffs.

Less Money for Innovation And Expansion

One of the most immediate impacts of these layoffs is that there will be less money available for innovation on Twitter and Facebook. This is because, when a company lays off employees, it is also losing its collective knowledge and expertise. In a lot of cases, these budgets get cut along with the workforce. For example, when Facebook laid off its team of Trending Topics curators, it lost a wealth of experience and knowledge about what topics are being talked about online. As a result, the company has been forced to rely more heavily on algorithms to surface Trending Topics, with mixed results.

In addition, with fewer employees working on a given project, there is less capacity for trial and error. This means that we can expect to see fewer new features being rolled out across all social media platforms in the coming months. So if you’re waiting for that new Facebook update or that new Twitter tool, you may have to wait a little longer than usual.

Fewer Customer Service Resources

Another potential impact of the social media layoffs is that there may be fewer customer service resources available to users. This is because, when companies lay off employees, they often do so in areas where they feel they can save the most money. And customer service is typically one of those areas. If you’ve noticed that it’s taking a bit longer to get a response from Twitter or Facebook when you report a problem, this is likely why.

An Increase In Social Media Scams

Hackers are opportunists (the good kind and bad). There are already numerous social media scams hitting every social media platform out there. I highly suspect that social media scams attacking Facebook and Twitter users will ramp up in the coming weeks.

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Lack Of Resources For Security

Yes, many of these layoffs have been those in roles of management (at least with Twitter). But we don’t know the entire scope of which departments and job titles were impacted. These companies are going to hesitate to release a detailed itemized sheet of what people and departments were affected the most. Regardless, your personal data being stored on any of these social media companies’ servers could be at risk. Heck…they’re always at risk when budgets are endless and companies do have all the resources. So what should you do?

Quick + Effective Ways To Protect Your Social Media Accounts

Enable 2FA Where Possible

Two-factor authentication (2FA), a sort of multi-factor authentication (MFA), is a security procedure that cross-verifies people using two separate types of identity. This type of added security feature will help you get that extra layer of protection in addition to putting in your password. In my opinion, if ANY platform, app, website, etc. will allow you to enable 2FA…YOU DO IT. The good news is both Facebook and Twitter have the option to enable two-factor authentication. Is it annoying to use at times? I’d be lying if I said “No.” But considering how much personal information and data these social media servers have on you…it would be very wise to enable 2FA.

RELATED: What Is Two-Factor Authentication?

Change Your Passwords

You’d be surprised how some people never change their passwords. You’d be even more surprised by the number of people that have dumb passwords that can easily be hacked. I’ve detailed exactly how you can make your passwords strong and more secure.

LEARN MORE: Best Tips For Making Passwords Strong And Secure

Get LastPass Password Manager

This one is especially useful for those who have multiple users who access social media accounts. One thing I despise about Facebook is how you have to have a personal account to run ads. I’ve seen some ad management accounts with half a dozen people tied to them. Each one of these is a potential entry point and cyber security risk. If you have ANY social media account (business branded or personal) where more than one person accesses it, I would get LastPass Password Manager right now to help with password management. We have an entire beginner’s guide to LastPass if you want to dive into the details.

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Social Media Layoffs Will Impact You

The layoffs at Twitter and Facebook are undoubtedly having an impact on the companies and their users. With fewer resources available for innovation and customer service, users can expect to see fewer new features and may have difficulty getting help when they need it. However, it’s important to remember that social media platforms are still incredibly popular and widely used despite these challenges. While the layoffs may be having an impact in the short term, it’s unlikely that they will have a significant long-term effect on either company’s bottom line.

Why I Stopped Using Google Photos And Do This Instead

Why I Stopped Using Google Photos And Do This Instead

A few months ago, I made the switch from using Google Photos to another photo-storage service. It was a hard decision to make at first, but after I realized how much better this alternative is…I realized I should have made the change sooner. I had been using Google Photos for years and was really happy with it. Honestly, I don’t have many complaints about it other than…I need more storage. Another issue is I found that I was starting to have some privacy concerns. Not security concerns because those are entirely different. 

But as I was uploading another massive dump of personal video and image files (and realizing Google now has smart AI that scans every image uploaded to their servers), I came to the realization that Google has a lot of data on me already. And quite honestly, I didn’t want them to have access to all my family photos as well. So…I researched and found a great alternative I now use. Here’s why I made the switch and what I use instead.

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Why I Stopped Using Google Photos

As much as I loved using Google Photos, I just couldn’t get past the fact that Google would have access to all my family photos. Okay…are they going to do anything with that data? I don’t think so. BUT…it was a personal decision for me. And we’re not just talking about any photos, these are photos and videos of my kids and grandkids! Even though it meant saying goodbye to some features that I really liked (like automatic backup and easy sharing), I decided to switch to a different service. 

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What I Use Now

There are a few different options out there for photo storage, but the one I settled on is Synology Photos. This photo management service is great because it offers many of the same features as Google Photos (automatic backup, easy sharing, etc) PLUS some insane photo management enhancements that are next-level. Here are some of the incredible things Synology Photos can do:

  • Super fast interface. Most photo management software can have image load issues (even the good ones). Not Synology Photos. You can easily find all your photos quickly.
  • Intelligent organization. You can customize albums. Set conditions on albums. And using smart technology, find any photo using facial recognition and other ways like tags.
  • Photo backup in multiple locations
  • No subscriptions. No ads. No fees. No limitation of space if I have big enough hard drives
  • Intuitive app for both Android and iPhone. What I love about the app is it will automatically send your photos to your NAS in the background. You can literally have a photo uploaded within 15 seconds. One of the best and most efficient photo backup methods out there.

What Do I Need To Use Synology Photos

For starters, you will need a Synology NAS device. My favorite is the Synology DiskStation DS420j. As a side note, Synology Photos will replace Synology’s Photo Station and Moments. You’ll also need DSM (DiskStation Manager) 7.0. You’ll also need the Advanced Media Extensions and codec pack. Once you have these prereqs, you’ll need to be running as a DSM administrator. 

  • Step 1: Go to Package Center and find Synology Photos. You’ll want to install it. Once finished (inside the DSM), you’ll need to go to the Main Menu and select Synology Photos.
  • Step 2: Through the Quickconnect ID, navigate to DSM Control Panel, then Login Portal, then Applications. Select Synology Photos and in the Alias, field add “photo”.
  • Step 3: Make sure to replace Your_QuickConnect_ID with your information. Here is some more info on QuickConnect if you are having trouble. 
  • Step 4: You’ll be inundated with a bunch of pages about all the intros and details. You can read them if you want. Once finished, select Enable The People album in my Personal Space. You can enable/disable this whenever you want.
  • Step 5: Download the mobile app (which I highly recommend).
  • Step 6: Once you have familiarized yourself with the application and how Synology Photos operates, invite other users (start with family). 

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How Do I Transfer Photos And Videos From Google Photos To Synology Photos?

There’s an easy way to do this. And there’s the hard way. I HIGHLY suggest NOT doing it the hard way. And we’ve all done it before. It’s more manual work and requires you to download all your files (photos and videos) from Google Photos to a PC (or external hard drive) with enough storage space. 

The Hard Way

Depending on how large those files are…this could take some time to download. You can also use Google Takeout. I have a thorough step-by-step guide on how to use Google Takeout to export your Google Files. From there, you’ll get a .zip file and you’ll have to extract it and delete all the JSON files in that folder. Once you’re in Synology Photos (open File Station, etc), you’ll want to drag that Google Photos folder from your hard drive on your PC (or wherever you downloaded your Google Photos data) and drop it into Synology Photos. Honestly, I’d make sure you have some time on your hands because this could take a while. Synology Photos will index all the photos to make sure you can utilize all of its features.

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The Easy Way

In the Synology Package Center, you’ll want to find and install the Cloud Sync. Once installed, open it and select Google Drive. The Google Account access popup window will appear and you’ll need to use the Google account where your Google Photos are located. This is really important. After that, select Allow so Cloud Sync can access your Google Drive data. 

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You’ll be redirected to the DiskStation Manager page where you’ll need to select a new sync task. You’ll want to find the Local path folder in your NAS because that’s where you’ll store your files from Google.’ll want to use the Remote Path (the source folder in Google drive) to sync. You’ll want to choose the Sync direction (the most common is Bidirectional) and then hit Next.

Should You Make The Switch To Synology Photos?

Making the switch from Google Photos to NAS with Diskstation wasn’t easy at first, but it was worth it for me in terms of privacy and the features are just heads and shoulders better. If you’re looking for an alternative to Google Photos, using Synology Photos is the best option, especially if you are already using a NAS device like Synology.

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