The new Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote has arrived with Fire OS 5 pre-installed, giving us our first look at what the new operating system brings to existing Fire TV devices updating from Fire OS 3. While those who ordered the new Stick bundle or new Fire TV 2 get these changes first, an update to Fire OS 5 for existing devices is on the horizon and should arrive soon. Here’s an overview of the changes and new features brought on by software version 126.96.36.199 for the Fire TV Stick.
Alexa Voice Assistant
By far the biggest feature added by Fire OS 5 is the new Alexa voice assistant which first appeared in the Amazon Echo. With Fire OS 5, you can use either a voice remote or the Fire TV remote app to issue commands and requests to Alexa. You do not need to preface your request with the word “Alexa…” like you do with the Amazon Echo. Just activate the microphone like you do for a voice search and tell Alexa what you want in natural full sentences. You can request many things like music, audiobooks, radio stations, weather, traffic, sports scores, wikipedia articles, general knowledge questions, and much more. You can expand Alexa’s capabilities by enabling “Skills“, which are like apps for Alexa. For a list of things to do with Alexa, see my article or Amazon’s help article.
Support for Bluetooth Headphones, Mice, and Keyboards
Fire OS 5 finally brings to the Fire TV Stick a feature that the Fire TV received 7 months ago. That feature is support for additional bluetooth devices other than game controllers. With Fire OS 5, the Fire TV Stick can now be connected to bluetooth headphones for private listening. This allow you to pipe the device’s audio wirelessly through bluetooth headphones to watch and listen to movies and shows without disturbing others around you. You can also now connect to bluetooth mice and keyboards.
The Fire TV and Fire TV Stick now have the ability to play Prime Stations. This is technically not a feature brought on by Fire OS 5, since Amazon has actually remotely enabled it on the previous software version as well, it is a new feature added since the last software update, so I figured I’d include it in this overview. Prime Stations are like radio stations that you can customise to your taste. You can select a station by choosing a genre, theme, or artist and the Fire TV will play music related to your selection. You can vote songs being played up or down on the Fire TV. The songs that are played on each station will be tailored to the voting choices you make. This ability to tailor a station by voting is what differentiates it from Prime Playlists, which will always play the same music.
Support for New Wi-Fi Based Game Controller and Remote
Fire OS 5 adds support for the new 2nd-gen Fire TV Game Controller and new voice remote that ships with the 2nd-gen Fire TV and Fire TV Stick voice bundle. With Fire OS 5, the Fire TV Stick now supports every remote and controller Amazon has ever created, regardless of it being 1st-gen or 2nd-gen, or if it’s bluetooth or WiFi based.
Voice Interface Update
Fire OS 5 has changed the voice interface displayed when using voice search or the new Alexa assitant. Functionally, voice search works the same, but now it displays results using the entire screen interface, as opposed to a small portion in the upper center as it did before.
Full Screen Text
Fire OS 5 has greatly improved the display of large bodies of text onthe Fire TV. If you open one of the legal or help documents within the settings area, you’ll find that the pop-up text now takes up the entire screen instead of just a small box in the center as it did in Fire OS 3. Strangely, there are still certain documents that still use the old small box format.
New Metric or Imperial Unit Setting
In the settings under the System panel you’ll find a new option in Fire OS 5 that lets you switch between Imperial units (fahrenheit, miles, etc..) and Metric units (celsius, meters, etc..). This new setting is used by Alexa to reply to requests/questions in the units that you prefer. You can also set this setting using the Alexa app or Alexa web interface
New Japanese Language Option
Now that the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick have recently become available in Japan, Fire OS 5 has added the option for a Japanese lanugage setting.
New Location Setting
There is a new setting for your location in the system panel of the settings are of Fire OS 5. This setting accepts a zip code to be used as the location when asking Alexa for the weather and other location based requests. This setting can also be set from within the Alexa app or Alexa web interface. The Fire TV only allows you to set a zip code, but the app lets you enter an exact street address for more precise location usage.
Updated Help Videos and Documents
If anything about Fire OS 5 confuses you, you’ll be happy to know the help videos and documents have been updated to reflect the changes brought on by Fire OS 5. Remember, you can also request someone from Amazon to call you and walk you through anything about the Fire TV by simply requesting a call from within the Fire TV’s help section.
Wi-Fi-Protected Setup Support
Fire OS 5 adds support for Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) routers and connections. These routers offer an alternative to manually entering your network’s password. Fire OS 5 supports both the WPS PIN method or push button method.