We’re all more connected than ever before, so naturally, that connectivity extends to how we communicate with the big guy in the red suit. If you have a Google Assistant-enabled device or one with Alexa digital assistant built in, you can talk directly to Santa during the holiday season. You can also listen to Christmas stories, sing carols, and find out if you’re on the naughty or nice list, all just by asking.
Not sure where to begin? Check out the voice commands that will get you started with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa—and what sort of experiences they will launch. Pick which one looks like the most fun or try them all out.
Google Assistant and Santa Claus
Hey Google, call Santa.
Get your kids to say this line, and it will launch an interactive experience from your Google Assistant speaker. Kids will encounter busy assistant elves before finally coming into contact with Santa himself, who is trying to plan a Christmas concert called Elfstock. The kids can stay busy on those days off school by helping him build the best song in his studio, which will play at the end of the game.
An enhanced version of this experience is available via smart displays, where you get limited graphics to go along with the story.
Hey Google, bring up the Santa Tracker
This skill needs to be invoked using the exact language above, and if you’re trying to use it on any day other than Christmas Eve, you’ll simply get a message that Santa is back at the North Pole getting ready.
Santa Tracker is a website where NORAD or the North American Aerospace Defense Command uses its vast tech smarts and radar arrays to track Santa’s sled from the moment it departs the pole and keeps tabs on where in the world he is at any given moment.
The catch is that to get the most of this option on Christmas Eve you really need a Google Assistant smart display like the Google Home Hub or the Lenovo Smart Display. The experience can work over a mobile device, but it’s not quite as fun for the family and doesn’t offer the best visibility.
Hey Google, read me a Christmas story.
This is another fun option to keep kids busy. Ask Google Assistant to read you a story and you might hear about the night that Google Assistant saved Christmas for Santa.
Alexa and Santa Claus
We’re all familiar with the helpful voice of Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant. She can respond to questions, give you weather and news, share cooking advice, play music, and a lot more. But just in time for the holidays, Amazon has launched a new feature from Amazon and Alexa for the holidays called, “Hey Santa.”
Try Amazon’s ‘Hey Santa’ holiday experience
You can ask Santa to tell you a Christmas story, sing carols, crack a reindeer joke, or do more mundane tasks like setting a timer, and more.
How to set up Hey Santa
Before you get to chat with the man in red, you’ll need to enable this skill. The simplest way to do it is to say “Alexa, enable ‘Hey Santa’” to get things underway. A parent does need to approve this request and will verify this in the Alexa app by signing into their account. After you’ve approved, you need to ask Alexa to Enable “Hey Santa” again to finalize things.
To go at this another way, you can also use the Alexa app, go to Skills & Games, then search “Hey Santa”, which is listed as Santa – holiday personality for Alexa.
This is a voice-only feature, even on the video screens on the Echo Show devices; there are no interactive video elements to speak of, because of course Santa is in his workshop, or trying on his suit, or making calibrations to his sleigh and doesn’t have time to be on camera.
What can I do with Hey Santa?
After you’ve enabled “Hey Santa” you can have some fun. Ask Santa what the weather is like at his home, or say:
“Hey Santa, sing Jingle Bells,” or “Hey Santa, sing karaoke.” Looking for some bedtime stories to usher in visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads? Say: “Hey Santa, tell me a story,” “Hey Santa, tell me the North Pole news” or “Hey Santa, can you tell me about your sleigh?”
“Hey Santa” is a fun seasonal option for the kids, of course, but it can be pretty cool for the grownups to have Santa fill in on digital assistant duties too.