With the announcement of the new Fire TV Cube, Amazon is making Alexa a bigger part of their streaming media hardware than ever. That decision is likely influenced by the fact that Fire TV owners are using Alexa more than ever. VP of Fire TV product development Sandeep Gupta said, at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco on Wednesday, that Alexa usage on Fire TV devices increased by 23x during the 2017 holiday quarter when compared to the same three months in 2016, according to Variety. Amazon says that Alexa was queried close to half a billion times by Fire TV users in 2017. More recently, hours spent using Alexa on Fire TV devices nearly doubled over the past 9 months. As Alexa becomes more useful with new capabilities, those figures are sure to continue increasing.
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, Amazon Fire TV
A new software update is starting to roll out to nearly all Fire TV models. The new update is marked as version 188.8.131.52 with a build value of 587600920. While Amazon has not yet edited their Fire TV Software Update page to include this latest update, they have added the new update to their Fire TV Source Code Notice page. That page indicates that this update is rolling out to the Fire TV 1, Fire TV 2, Fire TV Stick 1, Fire TV Stick 2, and Fire TV Edition televisions. The page has never been updated to include the Fire TV 3, so it’s unknown if those devices are also being updated. Read more ›
Amazon added the ability for Alexa to start playing content on the Fire TV over a year ago, but it has been limited to movies and shows from Amazon Video. Last month, they announced that the feature would soon be extended to other services. That capability is starting to roll out because you can now ask Alexa to directly play content from Netflix on the Fire TV. Read more ›
Amazon today announced an all-new Fire TV model. It is the first Fire TV capable of playing 4K video at 60 frames per second, since the 2nd-generation Fire TV could only play 30 fps 4K video. This new model is also the first Fire TV to support HDR video, which combined with the higher frame rate 4K capabilities, makes its video playback superior to the 2nd generation Fire TV. For that reason, Amazon is officially calling this the 3rd-generation Fire TV. Read more ›
Amazon has announced an official Ethernet Adapter compatible with both the existing 2nd-generation Fire TV Stic and the all-new 4K HDR Fire TV that was also announced today. It’s available to pre-order today for $14.99 and will be released on October 25.
Amazon just announced the availability of Alexa Display Cards for third-party manufacturers to incorporate into Alexa-enabled devices that have screens. These are the supplemental visual representations of Alexa responses that first appeared when Amazon added Alexa capabilities to the original Fire TV. Similar Alexa cards were later used on Fire tablets when they gained Alexa capabilities, but now that the the all-new Echo Show is a few days from release, Amazon has given visual Alexa responses a lot more attention and completely overhauled their layout. Part of the new Alexa card display guidelines is a large section dedicated to Alexa’s TV interface, which is very likely going to make its way to the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick in a future update. Read more ›
The 1st-generation Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are starting to receive a new software updated, carrying version number 184.108.40.206 and build number 562254320. I’ve received the update and, unfortunately, this update does not bring the new user interface to 1st-gen devices. The new interface is still coming to older devices, but that will happen at a later unknown date. The update with the new interface will likely carry a version number of 220.127.116.11 or greater. I’m told this 18.104.22.168 update’s purpose is to patch various security vulnerabilities within Android. Assuming there aren’t any issues with the update, most devices should receive it by the end of the week. I haven’t noticed any new features or obvious changes with this new software version, but I’ll be doing my usual digging shortly.
The Amazon Fire TV has had some supply instability recently, which is likely an indication that new hardware is on the horizon. The Fire TV went out of stock as a result of the Prime Day sale in July. It didn’t come back in stock until earlier this week. All of Amazon’s other devices that went out of stock after Prime Day were back in stock within 2 weeks. Today, the Fire TV Voice Remote just went out of stock, for the first time ever, with an expected return date of Spetember 16th. The Fire TV’s long hiatus, and the Voice Remote’s sudden shortage, is a good indicator that both will likely be replaced soon. What’s most surprising though, is the Fire TV Stick’s supply stability. Read more ›
Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, just gained the ability to execute IFTTT recipes with custom phrases. For those not familiar with IFTTT, it’s a powerful web service that allows users to connect various devices and services together. The new IFTTT ability just added to Alexa allows you to execute any number of actions by saying “Alexa, trigger …” followed by any phrase you want. This new functionality works on the Amazon Echo and Fire TV devices running Fire OS 5, which are currently the 2nd-gen Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote. The ability will also work on the 1st-gen Fire TV and older Fire TV Sticks once those devices receive the Fire OS 5 update in the near future. Read more ›
The second generation Fire TV has been out for over a month now, yet there haven’t been any 4K capable video apps other than the ones from big names like Netflix. Amazon’s Media Specifications page for developers lists the Fire TV platform as only being capable of “up to 1080p” with no mention of 2160p (4K) capabilities or the newer h.265 codec used by the 2nd-gen Fire TV. I inquired about 4K playback on Amazon’s developer forum and was told that “at this time, 2160p output is not available to developers on the 2nd-gen Fire TV” by an Amazon representative. Read more ›
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