Exclusive: Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant coming to Amazon Fire TV

alexa-coming-to-fire-tv-header

The Amazon Fire TV is about to gain a lot of functionality. Alexa, the voice assistant in the Amazon Echo speaker will be making its way to the Amazon Fire TV. Soon you’ll be able to use your Fire TV voice remote to do everything the Echo does, right on your Fire TV. With Alexa on the Fire TV, you can listen to Audible and Kindle Unlimited audiobooks, check your Google Calendar, reorder items from Amazon, play music, get traffic conditions, and a whole lot more. These new features will essentially turn your TV into an Amazon Echo, minus the always listening feature.

While digging around in the source code of the Fire OS 5 developer preview, I uncovered overwhelming evidence that Amazon will be adding full fledged Alexa capabilities to the Fire TV. I can’t say for sure if the new Alexa functionality will only be available on the next-generation Fire TV, but the source code I’ve uncovered seems to imply that Alexa will also be coming to the existing Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.

The image at the top of this article is a mockup I created, but the three card background graphic and the text come directly from the Fire TV source code. The phrase “any voice-enabled remote” seems to imply the new Alexa feature will also work with the Fire TV Remote App. Because the examples provided all begin with “Alexa”, it’s probably safe to assume that Alexa isn’t replacing the existing voice-search capabilities on the Fire TV. You likely cannot use Alexa to find movies and TV shows to watch. If you don’t preface your voice command with “Alexa”, it will probably be handled by the existing voice-search engine.

alexa-firetv-things-to-try

Below are screenshots of a new “Things to Try” help section hidden in Fire OS 5. If you have Fire OS 5 developer preview installed on your Fire TV, you can access the info yourself by running the following ADB command:
adb shell am start -n com.amazon.tv.settings/com.amazon.tv.settings.tv.ThingsToTrySettingsActivity

Alexa on the Fire TV will unlock access to a lot of new functionality which will continue to expand as Amazon and third party developers continue to increase Alexa’s capabilities. Some new functionality expected to be available when the feature arrives is the ability to play audiobooks from Audible or Kindle Unlimited libraries. You will also be able to listen to daily customized news briefings or listen to podcasts and live radio via TuneIn or iHeartRadio. Alexa will be able to check traffic conditions, the weather, and your calendar. You’ll have quick voice access to Amazon’s entire music library including Prime Music and music you’ve purchased or uploaded yourself. Alexa can answer a wide range of general knowledge questions and provide sports scores as well. The “Other” section in the “Things to Try” list seems to imply that you will be able to use voice commands to stop what’s playing, as well as mute/unmute the Fire TV.

alexa-firetv-cards

In addition to audible responses from Alexa, it appears most voice abilities will be accompanied by on-screen cards which display relevant information to you request. This is similar to how the Amazon Echo can be linked with a Fire tablet to display additional information.

The next-generation Fire TV will most certainly be launched with this new Alexa functionality. My sources at Amazon tell me we should see the new Fire TV released before the end of September. I would expect existing Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks to receive a software update around the same time which adds Alexa capabilities.

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10 comments on “Exclusive: Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant coming to Amazon Fire TV
  1. Craig says:

    Woohoo!!!! AUDIBLE!!!!!!! FINALLY!!!!!!!

  2. Bob says:

    Will the new fire’s audio responses from Alexa solely come via the TV or also via a headset or small speaker in the new fire TV’s voice capable remote.

  3. Craig says:

    Now… The even bigger question is? Will Alexa support come to recent Kindle Fire’s (and even the Fire Phone) via a firmware update? Because voice assistant technology is something severely lacking in the FireOS department. And since Alexa doesn’t require very fast hardware to operate, then pretty much every device within the last 2 years could be easily supported.

  4. Ray Fox says:

    This is exactly what I was hoping would be featured in the new Apple TV, but so far, no mention of this ability. So I found the long-awaited announcement of a new Apple TV to be a bit of a yawn.

    If Alexa can be run on the current Fire TV/Stick, that would absolutely awesome! But I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon only offered it on the upcoming device to entice folks to upgrade.

  5. HSB says:

    Interesting. One thing I’m confused about though is will the Echo be able to control the fire tv. I get the voice automation through the remote but Im wondering if it works both ways.

    I know the echo is still new but it sure would be a big change if it started supporting even more devices via home automation.

    Good news regardless.

    • Ujn Hunter says:

      This! I have no interest buying a remote with a microphone that requires me to press a button and talk into, when I have an Echo in the same room that just allows me to talk to it already.

  6. carter johnson says:

    What is more interesting is if a new FireTV embraces home automation with additional radios that can function as a H/A hub instead of just talk to another say SmartThings hub.This could beat Google and Apple to be the one device to rule them all…

  7. Luke says:

    My big question, will the new AFTV support Kodi?

  8. RideOrDie says:

    This could be amazing if Alexa will be able to interact with other products it is on. For instance “Alexa, Start Netflix on my FireTV” to an echo and the TV is turns on and Netflix opens. The Flash briefing can even be enhanced with video now that there is a screen to go with it, Sports highlights from ESPN. Assuming the Alexa devices will be able to interact maybe a “Show” or “Tell” hot word in the command for a video or audio play back. Alexa, Show me my flash briefing” FireTV on and showing you news clips, “Alex, tell me my flash briefing” plays the now audio flash briefing.

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