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Your smart speakers have more built-in functionality than you might have realized if you’ve just been using them to queue up playlists and get weather forecasts. Dig a bit deeper into their features, and you’ll find there’s plenty to explore, even if you own one of the cheaper models on the market.

For example, there’s a good chance your smart speaker has temperature and/or humidity sensors. You’ll find both in the HomePod Mini and the second-gen HomePod from Apple, and you’ll find a temperature sensor (but not a humidity sensor) in some Echo speakers sold by Amazon—see below for a full list.

These sensors can add some extra tricks to your smart home setup, and they’re not difficult to configure. However, as of yet there are no such sensors in Google Nest devices, so if you’re invested in Google hardware, you’ll need to buy separate sensors to talk to your network for the time being.

How to use temperature and humidity sensors on the Apple HomePod and HomePod Mini

Apple Home app

You can set up automations based on HomePod readings.
Credit: Lifehacker

As long as you’ve got a HomePod Mini or the second-generation HomePod from 2023 (not the original HomePod from 2018), then you’ve got both temperature and humidity sensors built right into your speaker. These sensors will be available as long as you’re running the latest software on your device. To check that, open the Home app on your iPhone, tap the three dots (top right), then Home Settings, then Software Update.

With that done, you can access the sensors. As you might expect, the process is handled through the Home app. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can use the Home app on an iPad or Mac computer instead. If you select the room that the HomePod is in from the Home app interface, you should see temperature and humidity readings right away.

You can also tap on the Climate link at the top of the Home tab to see a temperature and humidity overview. Note that the sensors on new HomePods may take a while to calibrate, and that you’ll see an average reading if you have more than one HomePod speaker active in the same room.

Tap on either the temperature or humidity reading to get more options. From the next screen, you can change the name of the sensor, change the room that it’s in, and check that it’s working okay. You can also opt to hide it from the home and room summaries that you see inside the Home app.

Tap Add Automation to do more with this data. You can set actions based on the readings taken from the sensors. For example, you might choose to have your smart thermostat turn up the heat if a certain room gets too cold, or have an audio alert sent to your Apple TV if the humidity in a room drops below a certain level. These automations can be configured to work only at certain times or when you’re away from home, too.

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How to use temperature sensors on Amazon Echo smart speakers

Amazon Alexa app

Some Echo speakers can report temperatures in certain rooms.
Credit: Lifehacker

If you’re using Amazon Echo speakers at home, you’ll find a temperature sensor inside the 2nd-gen Echo Plus (launched 2018), the 4th-gen Echo (launched 2020), and the 5th-gen Echo Dot (launched 2022). There is no temperature sensor in any of the Echo Show devices, and no humidity sensors in any Amazon smart speaker.

Everything is managed through the Alexa app for Android or iOS. Assuming you’ve already gone through the process of adding your Echo smart speaker to the app, you can assign it to a room in your house by tapping the + (plus) button in the top right corner of the Home tab, then choosing Group.

If you want to add a device to a room you’ve already created, select the room from the Devices tab, then choose Edit, then select the speaker to add it. Note that your speaker won’t be listed if it’s already been assigned to a different group or room.

Adding your Echo speaker to a group is important, because to get a temperature reading you need to say “Alexa, tell me the temperature in…” followed by the group or room name. If you just ask Alexa for the temperature, then you’re just going to get the current temperature for your part of the world, so you need to be precise in your wording.

You can also select the speaker from the list on the Devices tab to see the current temperature reading. Tap on the reading to get to the Go to Routines link—this lets you set up related routines based on the speaker’s temperature reading, so you could turn on a connected fan or turn up a smart thermostat based on how hot or cold a particular room in your home is.

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