Amazon to add a few new Alexa voice features to Fire TV – still no popcorn popping, though
If you have ever used the speech mechanism of your PC or Mac you know how awkward sounding it can be sometimes. Nonetheless, it is a nice feature to have, especially on those days where you’ve scratched your cornea, misplace your reading glasses, or are just plain lazy.
So, that Amazon is adding reading your Kindle eBooks to the list of things its Alexa voice can do when using a Fire TV is nice. The new abilities also include more television oriented tasks such as opening TV apps, or access subscription content.
It has been beyond me that Apple, which had such a huge head-start with its Apple TV device should find itself falling further and further behind its competitors in this area might be a mystery if we hadn’t been following the company for so long and know that it is now a conservative, hesitant company now. It took it years to finally up date the Apple TV, and when it did it failed to include support for 4K viewing, despite adding 4K video recording to the iPhone. That no one lost their jobs over this little omission is so Apple today.
Here is Amazon’s announcement for its additions to the Fire TV – still not enough to make me get yet a third TV box top (I have had a Roku and Apple TV for a while), but one never knows. It is getting harder and harder to justify being locked into iOS devices.
SEATTLE, Wash. –May 17, 2016 — Amazon today announced new Alexa voice features are coming to Fire TV, including the ability to control playback of Amazon Video and Add-On Subscription content, launch apps, access local movie show times, search local businesses and restaurants, and more—all just by using your voice. Discovering and accessing content on Fire TV has never been easier with the new Alexa playback features, plus integrated voice search across 59 content partners including Hulu, Showtime, Starz, HBO Go and more. These new Alexa features will be automatically delivered via free, over-the-air software updates in the coming weeks.
“Customers have told us they love having the convenience of Alexa on their Amazon Fire TV,” said Tim Twerdahl, General Manager, Amazon Fire TV. “We’re excited to add new Alexa features to Fire TV, making it easier than ever to enjoy their favorite TV shows, movies, and apps.”
New features coming to Amazon Fire TV in the coming weeks include:
- Launch apps using Alexa—Say “Open HBO Now” or “Launch Hulu” into the Fire TV Voice Remote to instantly open the app
- Play Amazon Video and Add-On Subscription content from Starz, Showtime, and more using Alexa—Say “Play Interstellar,” or “Watch Veep” and get even easier access to your favorite TV shows and movies
- Find local movie show times via Alexa—Ask “What movies are playing nearby?” or “Where is The Jungle Book playing?” to find out what movies are playing in theatres near you or specific movie times
- YouTube 4K Ultra HD—Access YouTube’s full 4K library via the YouTube.com app on Amazon Fire TV when connected to a UHD-compatible TV
- Search for local businesses and restaurants using Alexa—Ask “What Mexican restaurants are nearby?” to find restaurants around you or ask “What time does the nearest bank close?” to get convenient information on businesses nearby
- Access Kindle e-books via Alexa—Say “Read The Nightingale” to listen to text-to-speech enabled books from your Kindle library through Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV remains the #1 streaming media player in the US across all retailers as of March (the last month for which there is data). Fire TV Stick is the most reviewed product in Amazon history with over 100,000 customer reviews. Here’s what customers are saying:
- “The combination of the incredible simple design, super-fast no-wait streaming with an excellent remote control make this device a real family favourite. I for one am really impressed”
- “I love the voice activated Alexa info service, as well as the excellent voice search features of the system. It just doesn’t get any better than Fire TV from Amazon.”
- “The voice recognition on the remote is spot on, and I even tried some hard ones…There is never a shortage of programs to watch and I have watched a few series that I would not have found on my own. This is definitely a win for Amazon and the price is perfect.”
- “I’ve had Apple TV, Roku and others. Amazon Fire TV is the best!”
- “Quick and convenient search abilities thanks to Alexa. I no longer have to painstakingly type movie titles with a remote control. Success”
- “I love this device, primarily because it is simple to use and to navigate – made simple as pie by the voice-enabled search feature on the (included) remote. You can say “Homeland” and the Fire TV will locate the program, and you simply press the large button just below the microphone to bring up the show on Showtime.”