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Smart Home Devices Cheat Sheet: Tips for Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit

Utilize these expert-approved tips to optimize your smart home experience.

Macy Meyer Editor I
Macy Meyer is a N.C. native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in English and Journalism. She currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., where she has been working as an Editor I, covering a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, fitness and nutrition, smart home tech and more. Prior to her time at CNET, Macy was featured in The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, INDY Week, and other state and national publications. In each article, Macy helps readers get the most out of their home and wellness. When Macy isn't writing, she's volunteering, exploring the town or watching sports.
Expertise Macy covers a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, smart home tech, fitness, nutrition, travel, lifestyle and more. Credentials
  • Macy has been working for CNET for coming on 2 years. Prior to CNET, Macy received a North Carolina College Media Association award in sports writing.
Macy Meyer
4 min read
Google smart speaker

Smart speakers, with voice assistants, are a key part of building a smart home ecosystem. 


CNET has been at the forefront of smart home tech coverage since even before the first Amazon Echo smart speaker was released, in 2014. And things have come a long way since then. Our experts have covered (almost) every new generation, update, feature, service and command for Alexa, Google and Siri, as tech companies connect the rooms of your home to help optimize your daily life. 

We've written thousands of articles covering everything from smart lightbulbs and speakers to video doorbells and security cameras. Whether you're looking to find the best products on the market, figure out how to get started, or discover how to find all the hidden features that devices like the Amazon Echo, Google Nest and Apple HomePod have to offer, we've got you covered with this cheat sheet.

Below, you'll find helpful articles detailing tips and tricks for the most popular smart home brands -- Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit -- plus a variety of articles breaking down tips on where to put your devices, how to change the device settings and even how much you can expect to spend. (Since home security, home internet and home energy content have already been compiled into their own respective cheat sheets, I'm leaving out home security cameras, video doorbells, smart locks, thermostats and routers).

What are the best smart home devices?

With thousands of smart home devices on the market, it can be hard to even know where to begin. I mean, how could one person even begin to sift through all the reviews and best lists to pick one device to purchase? Luckily, CNET experts have spent years testing out new tech to determine what's worth your money and what you can probably pass on. 

CNET Home Tips logo

To start, you might want to consider brand. If you're looking for a system that is compatible with thousands of devices, you may want to go with Amazon Alexa. Or if you're looking for devices that can easily connect to your iPhone, Apple HomeKit may be the way to go. Here's the best of each brand:

If you don't care about the voice assistant technology, but are simply looking to find the best of each type of device, refer to our roundups of our favorite smart products:

tp-link kasa smart wi-fi plug in a woman's hand

Smart plugs can make any "dumb" home device smarter. 


How much will a smart home cost me?

With so many products on the market, you could completely deck out your home in smart tech. But you don't need to break the bank. Since pricing varies and final figures will be determined by how many devices you add, it can be hard to determine exactly how much you'll spend to build a smart home. Still, we've tried to give you our best estimate. 

Does it matter where I put my smart home device?

While you make be tempted to just put your new smart speaker or display anywhere in your home, location does actually matter. In fact, there are usually ideal places to put your devices, as well as places you should never put them. 

Woman Sleeping In Bed With Voice Assistant On Bedside Table Next To Her

Don't just put your smart home devices anywhere.

Monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

How do I figure out the settings on my smart home devices?

The amount of enjoyment you get from your smart home device is dependent on how well it operates. That means your settings can make or break your experience. Rather than just sticking to the default settings, adjust them for better privacy, audio, notifications and an overall more-optimized experience. 

echo dot with clock

Your smart device settings can make or break your experience.


Liked this cheat sheet? Check out CNET's other complete guides: