Jump in: How to use your Xbox One as a smart home hub

Microsoft's already got a hub in your home

How to use Xbox One as a smart hub
The Ambient is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Long before Amazon and Google made their plays to own your home with smart speakers, Microsoft was looking to do the same with the original Xbox. Things have come a long way since then, and the company has made some major missteps (*cough* Kinect *cough*), but the Xbox One is no slouch in the smart home.

The video game console and entertainment box has an app store, and it's also got Cortana built in and Alexa support on the way, giving you a TV-centric smart hub to control your home and your TV. Plus, you can play some pretty neat games.

How do you do all this though? We've got you covered, so jump on in.

Turn Xbox One into your home remote

How to use your Xbox One as a smart home hub

The first step to turning your Xbox One into a smart home hub is to head to the Xbox Store. You're going to be downloading an app called Home Remote, and you just need to search the store to find it.

When you first open up Home Remote, it'll bring up a screen that will let you add devices and shortcuts.

To add a device:

1. Click Add a device.
2. Choose your device manufacturer.
3. Choose your device.
4. Sign in to your account.

Some accounts, like Nest, will simply have you log in to your account and will automatically populate your device in your side menu.

Other services, like Lifx, will require you to get a token, and it'll kick you out to Windows Edge to sign in. However, it's probably best to just get a laptop or tablet, or even your phone, and get the token there. That way you can reference it on a second screen as you type it into Home Remote.

Read this: A complete guide to Cortana on Windows 10

While the Xbox One Edge browser will let you select text and sign in to websites, there's no copy and paste function, so you're in for a massive headache if you actually use it to try to enter your massive token.

Once your devices are all set up, they'll appear on the side menu. If you click on the logo, you'll be taken to a sparse page where you'll get all your commands. You can turn your thermostats on or off, for example, and even enable things like away mode.

As for lights, you'll not only get to turn them on or off, but control brightness and colour, too.

There are a number of devices you can add to Home Remote. They include:

  • Arlo
  • August
  • DirecTV
  • Ecobee
  • Fibaro
  • DLNA
  • Honeywell
  • IP Camera
  • Lifx
  • Lutron Caseta
  • Nest
  • Netatmo
  • Osram Lightify
  • Philips Hue
  • Pioneer
  • SmartThings
  • Wemo
  • Wing
  • TP-Link
  • Sonos
  • Amazon Alexa

Yes, Alexa is one of the add-ons to Home Remote. You'll be able to use a smart assistant other than Cortana on your device. How do you do it? Follow along.

Jump in: How to use your Xbox One as a smart home hub

How to get Alexa on Xbox One

Alexa is already available to control through the Home Remote app, but this isn't the same kind of support as you'll soon be able to receive. As announced earlier this year, the Xbox Skill will soon be available to let you control your device as shown above. That means you can use voice commands to power the console, adjust volume, launch games and apps, start and stop broadcasts on Mixer and capture screenshots.

So, let's say you have an Echo Dot. All you'd need to do to kickstart the console and a gameis say something like, "Alexa, start Fifa 19". Through this, you'll be automatically signed in, with the game launching in seconds.

The only issue with this is that you'll have to wait to receive it. With the Xbox Skill still in beta, the rollout has obviously been slow, and Microsoft indicates that the feature will first be hitting Xbox Insider rings before the general public.

It should be with us soon, and you can check by heading to Settings > Devices and seeing whether the skill pops up. If it is there, here's what you need to do to get set up:

1. Click Settings.
2. Click Add a device.
3. Choose Amazon Alexa.
4. Sign in to your Amazon account, click Enable.
5. Try your first command, such as, "Ask Xbox what can I say?”.

Say hello to Cortana

How to use your Xbox One as a smart home hub

The Xbox voice assistant used to simply be called Xbox, back when Kinect was around, but it's since been replaced by Cortana, which is far more fitting considering the smart assistant was inspired by Halo star Master Chief's best buddy.

Turning on Cortana

Here's how to make sure Cortana is set up and ready to go.

1. Click the Xbox button on your controller.
2. Tap the right bumper until you get to the Settings tab.
3. Scroll down to Settings.
4. Click System.
5. Open Cortana settings.
6. In Cortana's settings menu, make sure Cortana is toggled on.

If you do decide to turn Cortana off at some point, whatever it knows about you on your Xbox One will be deleted. Cortana's Notebook will still have whatever information you gave it, and information will still be stored in Microsoft's cloud, but your Xbox will be rid of you (for the most part).

Using Cortana

When you turned on Cortana for the first time, you might have noticed that its interface is pretty much exactly the same as the version on Windows 10. That's no accident, as the Xbox One runs a version of Windows 10.

So yeah, "Hey Cortana" is going to work here just as it does on Windows 10. Unfortunately, there are only two ways to bring up Cortana on Xbox One. The first one is to have a Kinect, which is always listening and can pickup your "Hey Cortana" easily. The other way is to always wear a mic.

Oh, and when you're done with Cortana just say "Stop listening" to get it to stop.

What Cortana can do on Xbox One

How to use your Xbox One as a smart home hub

So you know how to turn Cortana on and how to use it, but what can it actually do? It turns out that Cortana can do quite a bit, though it can't control all your smart home devices.

Still, there's plenty you can do. Here's a look at some of the things Cortana can help you do, plus some sample commands.


“Hey Cortana, turn off.”

“Hey Cortana, Xbox on” (Kinect required)

Media controls and TV

“Hey Cortana, play some music.”

“Hey Cortana, pause the movie.”

“Hey Cortana, play the next song.”

“Hey Cortana, volume up.”

“Hey Cortana, watch TV.”

“Hey Cortana, watch ESPN.”

Friends and profiles

“Hey Cortana, is Frank online?”

“Hey Cortana, start a party with Kevin.”

“Hey Cortana, send a message to Ross.”

“Hey Cortana, sign in as William.”

Games, apps and captures

“Hey Cortana, open Gears Of War 4.”

“Hey Cortana, launch Home Remote.”

“Hey Cortana, take a screenshot.”

“Hey Cortana, start broadcast.”

“Hey Cortana, record that.”


“Hey Cortana, search the web for news about Xbox One.”

“Hey Cortana, show me movies with Matt Damon.”

“Hey Cortana, how far is it to the Grand Canyon?”

“Hey Cortana, find cheap pizza restaurants near me.”

“Hey Cortana, when does Starbucks open?”

“Hey Cortana, what's traffic like on the way to work?”

“Hey Cortana, who is the president of Finland?”

“Hey Cortana, what time does Alaska 32 depart?”

“Hey Cortana, when will my package arrive?”

“Hey Cortana, what’s the Arsenal score?”

“Hey Cortana, what are the show times for Star Wars?”

“Hey Cortana, convert 60 dollars to yen.”

“Hey Cortana, how many metres in 1 kilometre?”

“Hey Cortana, define delve.”

“Hey Cortana, will it rain this weekend?”

TAGGED    smart home

Related stories

google The Week in Smart Home: Another celeb voice comes to Google Assistant
smart home Samsung SmartThings Wifi review: The best mesh for your smart home
smart home SimpliSafe smart lock review: Slim and simple, but just for Simplisafe
smart home ​Linksys Aware turns your router into a motion detector
smart home Smart fitness mirror launches in-home personal training
smart home The Week in Smart Home: Google Nest Hub may soon check your internet speed
What do you think?
Reply to
Your comment