Smart speakers have become extremely popular today, on both the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant spectrum. Amazon sells its Alexa voice assistant smart speakers like hot cakes, and Google Assistant powered speakers are flying off the shelves nearly as fast. But what if you don’t want to spend the money on a smart speaker? Is there a way that you can turn an old Android phone or tablet into a smart speaker by itself!
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The answer is yes! If you’ve got an old Android smartphone that you want to make use of, you can easily turn it into your own Google Assistant Smart Display, but it does take a whole lot more work. If you’re up to the task though, follow along below and we’ll show you the best way to tackle it.
There are a couple of requirements to make this happen that you need to be aware of. The first one is that your old Android phone needs to, at the very least, be running Android Lollipop. This way, you at least get support for Google Assistant as well as the “OK, Google” hotword.
Next, you need to make sure that you have all the necessary apps that you want to use downloaded onto your Android phone. You would need to make sure that you have your music streaming app of choice, such as Spotify or Apple Music, downloaded.
You might want some other apps downloaded onto your phone to enable other portions of Google Assistant functionality, such as Netflix, Google Maps, Google Photos, Google Calendar, Google Keep and others. This enables you to do things like “Ok, Google, what’s on my calendar?” or “OK, Google, take a note” and so on.
Now we can actually start the setup. Your best bet is probably to keep your smartphone, now Google Assistant display, connected up to your speaker system of choice. A high-end speaker will be the most optimal choice, as the better quality it is the better your audio quality is going to be, especially when dealing with music apps.
On the downside, you’ll, need to make sure that your speaker is constantly plugged in so that it stays charged. You’ll need to do the same for your old Android smartphone as well.
So, the first step is to either hook up your Google Assistant phone up with its speaker by a 3.5mm audio cable. Or, you could choose to simply connect it up over Bluetooth. Either choice you make, you’ll need to make sure that speaker has a power source, otherwise it’s just not going to work properly when it eventually runs out of juice. Again, you’ll need to make sure that the smartphone constantly has a source of power as well.
After that, you should be good to go! Just use your “OK Google” hot work, and you should immediately be ready to roll.
Now, there is a small problem when you start getting into phones that don’t have a 3.5mm audio jack or port. That means that all you have to work with is a USB-C port. In this case, you could choose to either exclusively connect by Bluetooth, or we could use a USB-C adapter hub to allow you to connect that 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable to the phone and charge the phone at the same time. The choice is up to you, but the latter one definitely gives you a whole lot more cables that you have to mess around with.
Keep in mind that microphone issues are just going to be a fact of life in this setup. This is because smartphone microphones are designed for close quarters activation, not necessarily for activating “OK, Google” from across the room.
You could choose to get an external microphone to fix the problem; however, at that point it would be a whole lot cheaper to purchase a small form factor Smart Speaker rather than continue to invest in this setup. Not only that, but that would mean more dongles to mess around with, too.
As you can see, turning your old Android smartphone or tablet into a Google Assistant smart speaker is quite an easy task; however, it might not be the most functional do the phone or tablet’s own hardware limitations. It’s still possible, and can be an affordable solution if you already have all of the hardware on hand.