Tips for Using the New Tech Gadgets You Got for Christmas

Like the Amazon Echo Plus and the iPhone XR

Here's how to use all the new goodies you got for Christmas. Apple, Google, Amazon

New gadgets are making it easier than ever to get through the most mundane tasks of the day. For example, Google, Amazon and Apple all have their own version of smart home speakers made to work with light bulbs, kitchen appliances and to play your favorite music from your streaming service of choice. But what if you find yourself opening one of this year’s hottest gadgets and have no idea how to use it? We’re here to help.

Here are the hottest gifts bound to be under Christmas trees this season and how to best use them.

Amazon Echo Plus

Amazon’s updated Echo Plus has the improvement Alexa lovers have been wanting to see since the Echo lineup was first released. The new Echo Plus has a built-in ZigBee smart hub, which means your favorite devices will no longer need separate hubs. This also means more internet bandwidth for your mobile devices and laptops rather than your light bulbs or oven.

With the new built-in hub, setup of smart devices should be a breeze. After your Echo is up and running, hit the home-shaped button on the bottom right of the Alexa app to connect any smart home device you wish. You’ll simply plug in the device (or screw it in if it’s a light bulb) and press the plus button in the top right corner to connect each smart home device. Once they’re all added, you should be able to see them when selecting the home button again.

Similar to other Echo products, the Echo Plus can tell you the weather, what your commute to work will be like, update you on your favorite sports teams and even get you ready for bed all with a few commands.

Google Pixel Buds

Although the Google Pixel Buds were released last year, they are still one of the hottest devices of 2018 and in many ways they’re ahead of their time. These wireless earbuds play music, have a built-in Google assistant and, most notably, can translate full conversations in 40 different languages in real time on Google Pixel smartphones.

To use this feature, open Translate app > choose which language will be spoken into the Pixel Buds in the top left corner > choose which language will be spoken into the phone as a response in the top right corner > tap the microphone in the center of the screen and begin.

June Oven

Although not particularly recognizable by name alone, the second iteration of the June Oven is a much better update to its predecessor. The Wi-Fi-connected countertop appliance is great for baking cookies, broiling veggies or air frying french fries.

For those who prefer more hands-off cooking, June offers automated cooking programs. All you have to do is select the food you want to cook and let June do the rest. The device uses information from the cloud in order to cook a particular dish correctly. If you prefer to be more hands on, or if you’re leaving your June on while you aren’t home, you can download the app and enable push notifications to receive video updates of what you have cooking as well as messages telling you when your food is ready to eat.

iPhone XR

Apple released its newest iteration of phones in September of this year, one of them being the iPhone XR. The iPhone XR comes in six different colors, boasts the fastest processor you can get in a phone and comes with new facial recognition ID to quickly unlock your phone.

What really makes the 2018 iPhone lineup stand out are the camera features, like the XR’s Depth Control. Depth Control lets you control the amount of blur in the background of a photo after you take it. To use this feature, simply select a photo, tap edit and the Depth Control slider will appear on the edit screen. From there, you can edit the photo to your liking.

Surface Go

There are a few tablets on the market that label themselves as a computer, but Microsoft’s Surface Go actually lives up to the hype. The base model comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of space, enough power to easily browse the internet and work on documents on the go.

One of the best things about this device is what comes with it. Microsoft offers a free version of Office apps for devices that have a screen size of 10.1 inches or less. The Surface Go comes in right at 10 inches, allowing consumers who get this product to use all the mobile versions of Microsoft Office at no additional cost. To download the mobile app to your device, simply visit the Microsoft store on your device, search for the program you want with the word mobile behind it (i.e. Word Mobile) and download. While it won’t be the full version of the office app you’re used to, you will be able to edit documents on the go.

is a freelance writer.