What is a smart speaker and how does it work?

Bose Portable Smart Speaker sitting on table behind couch and TV

When it comes to technology, the world gets smarter every day. With each new model, your phone, computer, TV, and even refrigerator provide a greater number of options and features that take them beyond their traditional uses. Smart devices are here to stay, too. Today, tens of millions of homes have at least one.

But what is a smart speaker, exactly, and what sets them apart from a simple Bluetooth® speaker? In a smart speaker, Bluetooth is merely one feature among many, including long-lasting rechargeable batteries and an internal amplifier, all inside one little device. Smart speakers, however, go beyond this by adding Wi-Fi® capabilities and built-in voice assistants that provide access to the entire online world and enable command of it, whether you’re checking the weather, playing your favourite song, or getting answers to any question you have.

Here's what you need to know about how smart speakers can transform the audio experience for the better.

What is a smart speaker?

While traditional speakers are often fixed in a specific position and require a separate amplifier to power them, smart speakers are generally self-contained, with an internal amplifier and a powerful, rechargeable battery to drive performance. You only need to switch on your smart speaker, link your device, and hit play.

The best smart speakers contain a range of additional perks, too, including:

Portability: In many cases, smart speakers are small, compact, and easy to transport. This means you can more easily add audio to chores in the house, gatherings in the yard, and hikes in the woods.


Streaming capability: Thanks to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections, smart speakers can easily sync up with your music libraries and streaming platforms at the click of a button, allowing you to stream music from your preferred smart device.


Voice assistants: Many of the smartest speakers today include a virtual assistant like Alexa and Google Assistant, enabling you to perform hands-free tasks.

Bose Smart Soundbar 900 on TV stand in front of a television

How do smart speakers work?

Smart speakers can assist you in your everyday tasks. When connected to Wi-Fi, the voice command feature will learn your voice and become familiar with your use of words to efficiently assist you. For example, you can tell the speaker to "Play my country playlist," ask about the weather, or instruct it to "Set a timer for 10 minutes."

You can connect your phone, computer, or tablet to the speaker via Bluetooth and play your music, podcasts, or movies anywhere life takes you. Bose speakers allow more customization, allowing you to fine-tune the connection and playback using the Bose Music app.

How can smart speakers make your life smarter?

Once you start using smart Bluetooth speakers, you may wonder how you ever lived without them. Here are just some of the ways these speakers can enhance your daily life:

Voice automation and operation

If you've ever scrambled to find your phone, receive a call, or send a text on short notice, you'll love smart speakers' voice control features. Smart Bluetooth speakers, like the Bose Portable Smart Speaker, provide voice-activated access to phone calls, so you don't have to pause what you're doing. Access to Alexa and Google Assistant also makes it easier to check the weather forecast, traffic, showtimes, and other critical information. You can even control other linked home appliances and devices in the house through a simple voice command.

For even more voice control, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar features exclusive Bose Voice4Video technology that lets you turn on and control your TV, cable, or satellite box with just your voice. Try asking Alexa to jump to your favourite station, even if your TV is on a different input.

Support for chores, tasks, and activities

The wall-to-wall sound of many smart speakers means your favourite audio can accompany you wherever you go and for whatever you need to do around the house. The Bose Smart Speaker 500 includes two custom drivers that point in opposite directions to bounce sound off the walls, resulting in a powerful, room-filling sound. Connecting devices is simple, and you can flip from song to song with voice commands.

Man adjusting volume on Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Bose Connect app

Connections with friends and family

Gatherings with friends and family are even better with a customized soundtrack. The Bluetooth connectivity in Bose smart speakers enables everyone to get in on the fun by linking their own devices and playing music they love. As a bonus, the 360-degree projection of smart speakers like Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II and Bose Portable Smart Speaker also means you can play DJ for the whole party.

Expansion and enhancement of the soundscape

Smart speakers not only pair with your phone, tablet, or computer but also with other smart speakers, creating a multi-room soundscape. This means you can transmit whatever's playing on the TV or your device to two speakers, expanding coverage to more rooms and spaces. With Bose SimpleSync pairing technology, you can even split the sound into left and right channels, creating a stereo mix of the audio signal.

Reminders and alarms

Smart speakers are an excellent way to set reminders and alarms for the things you need to remember — be it your friends' birthdays, a doctor's appointment, a promise to carpool, or the truffle mac and cheese baking in the oven. This feature is particularly helpful for older adults who may be hard of hearing and need a bit more volume in their reminders. This becomes even easier with Bose smart speakers, thanks to the integration of Alexa and Google Assistant.

Streaming services

With a connection to a Wi-Fi network, Bose smart speakers can access a host of popular streaming platforms and services, including Chromecast, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube Music Premium. That means you can tap a near-universal library of audio, allowing you to embrace your old favourites or discover new ones.

Knowledge is power

Bose smart speakers don’t just enhance the listening experience — they offer the opportunity to live smarter. With their breadth of features, smart speakers can energize daily activities, save time, keep you on track, and help you share your passions. When it comes to portable smart speakers, the knowledge and know-how they can provide truly add power to your life.

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