Amazon told us that more apps would be updated to allow voice control through Alexa’s new entertainment capabilities and now it has happened. The latest versions of the Bravo, CBS, Hulu, NBC, Showtime, and PlayStation Vue apps for Fire TV devices can now be controlled through Alexa, using either a stand-alone Echo device or the Alexa voice remote. You can start shows and movies, control playback, and tune to channels without lifting a finger.
For network apps, like Bravo and CBS, you can simply say “Alexa, play/watch [show name]” to begin watching the series. Alexa and the Fire TV are pretty good at determining which apps you have installed and starting the requested show using the appropriate app, but if you’d prefer, you can add “…on [app name]” to the end of the request to be more specific about which app you want to be used. For some apps, like Showtime, you can also say “Alexa, search for comedies on [app name]” to bring up a search within the app itself, instead of directly starting content.
For television subscription apps with live TV access, like Hulu and PlayStation Vue, you can use your voice to jump directly into the live stream of a channel by saying “Alexa, go/tune/switch/change to [channel name].” Of course, you’ll need to have a paid subscription with one of the service providers for it to work. If you’re living the good life with multiple live TV apps that offer the same channel, Alexa will ask you to clarify which app you’d like to use. You can also request specific shoes from subscription apps by saying “Alexa, watch [show name] on PlayStation Vue.”
All of these apps also now support detailed playback control using your voice. While watching content within the app, you can say “Alexa, pause” to stop the content and “Alexa, play” to resume paused content or start playing content that happens to be highlighted. You can jump around in a show or movie by saying “Alexa, rewind/fast-forward [#] minutes.” To start what you’re watching over, you can say “Alexa, start over” or “Alexa, play from the beginning.” To skip entire episodes of a show at once, you can say “Alexa, next/last episode.”
All of the updated apps have done the necessary work to integrate Alexa control into the app. Hopefully, more will follow, but some apps that have not performed the required updates do still have limited voice control which is handled by the Fire TV itself. If you ask to play a movie that is available on Netflix or Crackle, for example, and you have the app installed, more often than not, the Fire TV will automatically begin playing the movie within the app if that’s the only available source for the requested film. Nearly all media apps, including Kodi and YouTube, also support pausing and resuming playback by voice.