Alexa, call Santa! Here’s how smart speakers handle the holidays

Here’s how smart speakers are connecting kids with Santa in a high tech way!

Back in the day, you might have written a letter to Santa or visited him at the mall. Thankfully, these are still valid ways to get in touch with the big guy – but there are a few new ways too, thanks to smart speakers from Amazon and Google.

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We tried calling Santa using several methods – using Alexa on Amazon Echo, using Google Assistant on the new Google Home Max speaker and on Siri. Here’s how each one worked.

Alexa on Amazon Echo

Alexa is great for a lot of things and her Santa smarts mostly rely on “skills” so you will have to activate them the first time you use one of these commands. For starters, she can easily answer “Alexa, How Old is Santa” with a fun quip.

Next, we tried the command “Alexa, Where is Santa?” which is actually a skill powered by NORAD. If you’re going to use this one with your kids you will want to set it up in advance since there are a few steps to get it to work. Alexa will ask for some permissions by sending a link to your phone. After you agree to some terms the question will work as you might expect. Use it to track Santa and do some back and forth with Santa facts. I love how it tells the kids that Santa only visits when they’re asleep and usually between the hours of 9 pm and midnight.

Finally, if you want some instant Christmas music with Santa as a DJ, use the command “Alexa, Open iHeart Santa.” This will immediately summon Santa DJ and he will ask you what kind of music you want to hear. It’s pretty slick and the tunes are commercial free.

Google Assistant on Google Home Max

Google Home Max is Google’s newest and largest smart speaker. This thing is massive and the sound it outputs is just amazing. It’s 20x louder than the original Google Home and uses artificial intelligence to automatically adapt its acoustics to sound it’s best in any room it’s in. Did I mention it can get loud? It’s also $400, so you have to be invested in the Google Home ecosystem to plunk down for this one.

The best command to start with is “Hey Google, Call Santa.” You’ll get a direct line to the North Pole, complete with a dial tone, phone ringing and an elf answering! Then, Santa will proceed to ask your kids a series of questions they can interact with.  It’s a lot of fun.

You can also ask “Hey Google, Where is Santa” and get an update on his location. Kids will love this on Christmas Eve!

Just a note on Alexa versus Google when it comes to these smart speakers. Lots of folks ask me my preference, and I will tell them it’s Google. I find that Google can handle more natural voice commands versus Alexa, which often requires very specific phrases you must use to activate her.

Siri on iPhone

It’s not a smart speaker, but I’m sure lots of folks will try to get in touch with Santa using Siri. When we asked to “Call Santa,” we got the response that Santa wasn’t in our contacts. We then asked things like “How old is Santa” and “Where is Santa” and got some fun responses.