One of the standout features of the Amazon Fire TV Cube is its ability to act as a universal remote by letting you control your home theater equipment using your voice. Much of that relies on the Fire TV Cube’s ability to change your TV’s input. The new 18.104.22.168 software update that is currently rolling out to Fire TV Cubes has expanded the device’s input changing capabilities to include TVs that cannot directly switch to a specific input, such as those that use an on-screen menu for input switching.
When you ask Alexa on the Fire TV Cube to turn on the TV, one of the things it can be set to do is change the TVs input to that of the Fire TV Cube so that you’re always ready to start using the device. Similarly, if you ask Alexa to tune to a specific channel on your cable box, it will first switch inputs to the cable box before changing to the requested channel. It’s also possible to add additional equipment, such as gaming consoles and Blu-ray players, that can be requested by saying “Alexa, switch to [device].”
All of these features are dependent on the Fire TV Cube being able to switch your TV to a specific input number or type, based on what you’ve requested. Unfortunately, some TVs don’t have the ability to jump directly to a specific input. For customers with such TVs, it greatly reduces the added convenience that the Fire TV Cube’s equipment control capabilities provide. The latest Fire TV Cube software update has given more customers that convenience by adding support for input cycling on TVs that don’t support direct input switching.
Under the TV section of the Fire TV Cube’s Equipment Control settings area is a newly added menu labeled “Input Change Options.” This controls what the Fire TV Cube does when you say “Alexa, switch inputs.” The setting is set to “Cycle Through” by default, which essentially just executes an “Input” remote button press. This is meant to be used for TVs that allow you to scroll through inputs by simply pressing a single button on their remote.
For customers with TVs that bring up on-screen menus when their remote’s “Input” button is pressed, it’s possible to configure the Fire TV Cube to simulate additional remote button presses for voice input switching. The Fire TV Cube can be set to send an Up, Down, Left, or Right directional button press after it has called up the input menu. It can also be configured to send an Enter button press after the directional button press, if necessary.
For example, if changing to the next input on a particular TV requires pressing an input button, pressing right to move to the next input, and then pressing enter to select that input, a Fire TV Cube owner would set the new “Input Change Options” setting to “Navigate Right + Enter.” By doing say, the Fire TV Cube will execute all three button presses each time the customer says “Alexa, switch inputs.”
Customers will need to repeat the voice command for as many times as is necessary to reach the input they desire. While this can certainly become tedious, there is simply no other way for the Fire TV Cube to switch inputs on TVs that do not support direct input switching. I expect that many people with these types of TVs will prefer to pickup their remote instead of repeatedly asking Alexa to cycle inputs, but at least now they have the option to use voice commands, whereas, before this new update, their only option was to use their TV remote.