Even though music streaming remains the primary use case for Amazon and Google's insanely popular smart speakers
, it goes without saying Alexa and Google Assistant
can do many other cool, innovative, and practical things simply by listening to your voice. The Echo lineup arguably maintains its superiority in the living room, hiding plenty of neat smart home tricks up its sleeve, the latest of which is specifically designed to keep an eye on things while you're away.
Formally unveiled way back in September
and made available by invitation only a couple of months after that
, the very ingenious Alexa Guard feature is now rolling out more widely in the US at last. All you have to do to activate this functionality is remember to say "Alexa, I'm leaving" every single time you exit the premises of your house and want your digital assistant to keep its virtual ear to the ground.
After setting Guard to "away mode" with the aforementioned magic phrase, your Echo device will stay alert and send notifications to your phone if it detects the sound of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, or glass breaking. Obviously, you shouldn't panic as soon as you get a "smart alert", and instead try to determine if the danger detected by Alexa is actual cause for concern by listening to a 10-second audio recording from your house or even "drop in" on your Echo remotely to check exactly what its microphone is picking up.
By no means a replacement for a real security system, Alexa Guard can enhance the capabilities of popular setups from Ring and ADT, while also working in tandem with connected smart lights to discourage burglary attempts. Most importantly, the feature naturally doesn't cost a thing. The latest version of the mobile Alexa app lets you enable it from the "Settings" menu, where you'll find a Guard-dedicated subsection containing simple step-by-step setup instructions.