I’m starting to think this smart speaker thing is going to be big

And how listening to Subcast seamlessly between your apps and Alexa is easy, and kinda magical.

Do you remember trying to explain to a flip phone user why they should get a smart phone? I distinctly remember trying to tell my brother how having Google maps on your phone means that you never have to get lost again. He said “I’m perfectly happy with what I have,” though he did capitulate a few years later. Fast forward 10 years — do you think he’d go back to that flip phone? No. No he wouldn’t.

Similarly, trying to explain to someone who doesn’t have a smart speaker why they should get one is usually futile, so I don’t push very hard right now. To be honest, they aren’t very smart yet, and have limited functionality. But like smart phones, they’ll grow up.

Why do I think that? First, Amazon is hiring thousands of engineers to work on the platform and there is a war going on between Amazon and Google. Second, we’re seeing firsthand in our user research how people are integrating Alexa into their lives in a meaningful way. Third, the latest SmartAudio report from NPR and Edison Research backs up our anecdotal research, and usually blows the minds of skeptics. Check this out:

  • One-in-six Americans (16%) now owns a voice-activated smart speaker. 7% of Americans received a smart speaker over the holidays.
  • After just three years on the market, consumer adoption of smart speakers is tracking slightly ahead of smartphone adoption a decade ago.
  • 65% say that they wouldn’t want to go back to life without their smart speaker.

This is before smart speakers have made it all the way into your cars and into your headphones (though the assistants are on their way). They are only in your home or office, but already they are proving invaluable to the people who optimize their lives with them.

Alexa in every room!

If you have one of these smart speakers, then you are probably thinking about how cool you are right now. Way to be ahead of the curve! If that’s you, then congratulations.

If you have have the most popular smart speaker — one of the many variations of Amazon’s Alexa — then I have a really cool thing you should try. You can listen to 19 of our personalized podcast radio stations on Alexa in your bedroom, then on your phone on the way out the door, then on your phone in your car, and then back on Alexa in your kitchen without missing a syllable.

For the curious, here’s a quick how-to.

1. Download the Subcast iOS or Android app

You know the drill. We’re in Apple App Store & Google Play.

The home screen of the Subcast apps has a directory of all of our stations. We’ve got a ton of stations like Learn Something, History, People Stories, Business Builders, Daily News, Conservative Politics… look around and find one you love.

2. Tap the “+Alexa” button on your favorite station

Any station that has a correspoding Alexa station has a small button that says “+Alexa”. Tap that. Now you’re in the connection flow.

3. Enable the skill for your favorite station with a voice command

Next, you’ll see the instructions on how to enable the skill (apps on Alexa are called “skills”). You can do it with your voice. Just say “Alexa, enable Learn Something Radio” (or whichever station you are enabling).

4. Ask Alexa nicely for the code

Then, you’re going to ask Alexa for a code. Just say “Alexa, ask Learn Something Radio to connect.” Alexa will give you a four digit code. This is how we figure out that the Alexa and the phone belong to the same person.

5. Enter the code

BOOM! That’s it. You are now connected. All of your episode progress, you favorites, and your “trashes” are now everywhere you go. It’s like magic.

You might not have thought you needed this in your life, but once you use it you’ll be annoyed at any app that doesn’t do this.

Alexa cheat sheet

I’m sure you are an Alexa expert by now, but just in case you aren’t, here’s a cheat sheet for how to use audio apps on Alexa, and a few Subcast-specific commands.

  • “Alexa, enable Learn Something radio” enables the skill and makes it work on your Alexa.
  • “Alexa, open Learn Something radio” starts a session. We just start playing.
  • “Alexa, next” goes from one episode on the station to the next.
  • “Alexa, previous” goes to the previous episode.
  • “Alexa, repeat” goes back 30 seconds.
  • “Alexa, stop” makes her stop.
  • “Alexa, resume” picks right back up again.
  • “Alexa, tell Learn Something Radio I love this” is the same as 💜
  • “Alexa, tell Learn Something Radio I hate this” is the same as 🗑️

You can find us at subcast.com, on Alexa, iOS and Android, and on the Twitter at @subcasthq. Happy Listening!


I’m starting to think this smart speaker thing is going to be big 🤔 was originally published in Subcast on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Gurupriyan is a Software Engineer and a technology enthusiast, he’s been working on the field for the last 6 years. Currently focusing on mobile app development and IoT.