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8 Handy (And Plain Weird) Things You Never Knew You Could Do With Your AI Assistant

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can do more than you know…
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Voice-controlled AI assistants have taken off to such an extent that, if you haven’t started talking to your technology yet, there’s every chance you will do soon.

And if you’re like others who use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you probably mostly ask it to change the radio station, give you the latest weather forecast, bring you travel updates for your daily commute or play your favourite music. Increasingly, you may also use your smart assistant to control a growing range of domestic gadgets and appliances, from lights and heating to robot vacuum cleaners.

But most of us only scratch the surface of what our smart assistants can do. To help you dig a bit deeper, here are a few more handy – and in some cases, quite odd – things you can do with these voice-controlled virtual helpers.

1) Help you in the kitchen

Tapping on a screen (or worse, a keyboard) when your hands are busy chopping onions or kneading sticky dough can be a time-consuming pain. Instead, ask your smart assistant to set a timer, convert ounces to cups, or add an ingredient you’ve just used the last of to your shopping list. When you’re in need of culinary inspiration you can use it to find recipes too.

2) Fill your free time

Why not do something different this weekend? Ask your assistant for recommendations, and skills/apps like Cool Events (Amazon) and Musement (Google) will check a range of listings to see what’s happening near you. If anything takes your fancy, you can ask your assistant to add it to your calendar.

3) Remember stuff

Your AI assistant can help you remember everything from important dates and bike lock codes to the secret place you’ve stashed your passport (and subsequently forgotten). You can also set either Alexa or Google Assistant to remind you when your favourite TV show is on, when your dentist appointment is and what time you’ve made dinner reservations for. Really, it’s like having your very own PA.

4) Help you relax

Both Alexa and Google Assistant can help you relax, and not just because they remember where your passport is. Look for the Headspace app (to take one example) in Google Assistant’s apps library and the Amazon Skills catalogue. It can play specific meditations based on your mood and the time of day, and even claims to help you get to sleep.

5) Control your printer

Voice-activated printing is here, thanks to the HP Tango. HP Tango is the UK’s first smart home printer (1), which means it connects with both Alexa and Google Assistant and offers hands-free, hassle-free printing (4, 5). Tell your AI assistant to print shopping lists, games, colouring pages and forms and your HP Tango will gladly oblige.

6) Be a friend

OK, your AI assistant isn’t a proper friend, but it can sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to you, read you a story, tell you a bad dad joke, and let you know how your football team got on in the big match. It has a funny side, too (besides the bad jokes). Try asking Alexa what the first rule of fight club is, or instructing Google Assistant to beatbox.

7) Shop till you drop

Your AI assistant is a shopaholic’s dream. It can help you to find nearby stores, create and manage shopping lists and voice shop for groceries, clothes, household goods and more. A number of stores already work with Google Assistant and Alexa (and that number will only rise) and Alexa also links directly to your Amazon account.

8) Be your translator

Whether it’s for the kids’ homework or you’re abroad and want to communicate with the locals, your AI assistant can help. Google Assistant uses the power of Google Translate to translate words or short sentences to and from English. Alexa, meanwhile, uses the Translated skill to translate short sentences from English into one of a growing number of different languages.

HP Tango is the world’s first smart home printer (1), featuring a cloud-based, two-way network connection that lets you print, scan and copy from any device, wherever you are (2, 3). The HP Tango app means you set up and control your printer from a smartphone or other mobile device (2, 5), and you can also connect HP Tango to Alexa or Google Assistant for voice-activated printing (4). Like other HP printers Tango uses HP Instant Ink technology. That means the printer automatically orders ink when you’re running low (6) – giving you one less thing to worry about. Plus, with HP Instant Ink, photos printed from your phone are free. (7) HP Tango. Finally a printer ready for today.

Terms & conditions

(1) “Smart Home Printer” defined using the following criteria: 1) Designed exclusively for mobile devices, and driven by an OEM printer app, like other IoT devices. This HP Tango device is designed exclusively for mobile devices since it requires a mobile device for install. 2) Uses both local Wi-Fi and cloud cell phone data connectivity for two-way connection with OEM app to control printer and get status. 3) Offers voice printing support for Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana. (See Keypoint Intelligence report for details: . 4) Unique in-class in that it lacks a screen/display, buttons/LEDs other than the power button, and a USB port. Smart home devices often lack screen/display and buttons/LEDs and USB port, since they are designed for wireless and control by OEM provided app on smart device like phone or tablet. Compared to the majority of in-class letter-size colour desktop inkjet printers and all-in-ones <$150 USD. Claim based on HP internal research of printer manufacturers’ published specifications and Keypoint Intelligence - Buyers Lab March 29, 2018 study commissioned by HP. For details, see Market share as reported by IDC CYQ4 2017 Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker.

(2) Requires the HP Smart app download. Features controlled may vary by mobile device operating system. Full list of supported operating systems and details at For details on local printing requirements see

(3) For details on local printing requirements see

(4) Requires Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant™, or Microsoft Cortana and an HP web-connected printer registered with Google Cloud Print or ePrint. For ePrint account registration, see

(5) Requires Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant™ and is available in certain countries; see and Also requires an HP web-connected printer registered with Google Cloud Print or ePrint. For ePrint account registration,

(6) Based on plan usage, internet connection to eligible HP printer, valid credit/debit card, email address, and delivery service in your geographic area. Printers require direct connection to the Internet for program participation. Internet access sold separately. For more details, see:

(7) Free photos includes all photos printed from a mobile device on paper up to 13 x 18 cm in size. Requires enrolment in HP Instant Ink paid plan, Internet connection to eligible printer, valid credit/debit card, email address, and delivery service in your geographic area. Photos printed on paper up to 13 x 18 cm in size from mobile devices do not count against your monthly page allotment included in your HP Instant Ink plan. Limitations may apply. Pages printed from your mobile device that are not photos or photos printed on paper larger than 13 x 18 cm in size do count toward your monthly page allotment included in your HP Instant Ink plan. Printer requires a direct connection to the Internet for program participation. Internet access sold separately. For more details on Instant Ink plans, see For details on local printing requirements, see