Alexa can now send SMS text messages if you use an Android phone

Alexa’s calling and messaging capabilities just gained a new feature if you use an Android phone. You can now use Alexa through any Echo device to send standard SMS text messages without ever picking up your phone. The messages are sent through your phone’s SMS app, so the recipient doesn’t need to have the Alexa app or do anything special to receive the messages. Read more ›

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Amazon Fire TV now supports Single Sign-On in TV Everywhere apps for pay TV customers

Amazon has added a new single sign-on feature to all Fire TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and Fire TV Edition televisions through the latest software update, which began rolling out last week. The new feature allows customers to login once with their pay TV provider and be automatically logged into all network apps that support single sign-on. This eliminates the need to tediously activate each app individually. Read more ›

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Alexa devices will soon be able to control playback and launch apps on the Amazon Fire TV

Amazon has just updated their Fire TV Software Updates page with a new feature listing that states compatible Alexa devices can now control video playback on the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Additionally, you’ll be able to use compatible Alexa devices to launch Fire TV apps. The feature is not yet functional, but it should be available soon. Read more ›

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Alexa gains named timers and reminders

Amazon has added the ability to set named timers and reminders on Alexa devices. This means you can now have multiple timers, each with a different name by saying something like “Alexa, set a 20 minute rice timer” and “Alexa, set a 7 minute timer for cookies.” You can then ask “Alexa, how much time left on my rice timer” and Alexa will know which of your multiple timers you’re talking about. When the timer goes off, Alexa will tell you the name of the timer by saying “Your rice timer is done.” Read more ›

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Movies and TV shows from 3rd-party services are coming to the Amazon Fire TV’s ‘Recent’ row

Now that the revamped Fire TV and Fire TV Stick interface has been released to all devices, new and old, Amazon is starting to work on polishing the home screen and incrementally improving the interface. They recently started allowing 3rd-party apps to recommend content directly on the home screen in an effort to help non-Amazon content gain more exposure. Now Amazon will be making a significant change to the way apps and content appear in the Fire TVs “Recent” row on the home screen. Apps will be able to list content there that’s relevant to your recent activity, instead of just displaying the app icon. Read more ›

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Here’s how recommended content from 3rd-party apps work on the Amazon Fire TV

With the new Fire TV user interface, Amazon added the ability for any app you have installed to recommend content for you to watch. These recommendations will appear in their own row on the Fire TV’s home screen. This new functionality was likely added in part to address criticism that Amazon only highlights their own Prime Video content on the Fire TV’s interface. Amazon just updated their developer documentation for this feature, giving us a better idea of how it works. Here’s a breakdown of the feature and what to expect when apps begin adopting it. Read more ›

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More apps will be able to recommend content on the Fire TV home screen in the near future

When the original Amazon Fire TV was first released, one of its biggest criticisms was that there was too much focus on Amazon Video content in the device’s interface, and not enough highlighting of content from other services. Amazon has since made huge strides to address those criticisms, and they’ll soon be more ways for non-Amazon content to surface on the Fire TV interface. Amazon recently updated their Fire TV developer documentation to state that more apps will soon be able to recommend content on the Fire TV’s home screen. Yesterday the entry was updated to add that the feature would be coming in “Q2 2017 or sooner.” Read more ›

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Explanation of the System X-Ray bar on the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick


The System X-Ray bar on the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick is a handy overlay with display, CPU, memory, and network information. It can be turned on and off using the hidden Developer Tools Menu on Fire OS 5 devices. It is meant to be used by developers to better understand what their apps are doing, but it can also be useful for common users to diagnose problems and locate misbehaving apps. Here is an overview of what each piece of information in the bar means. Read more ›

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Amazon shopping partially available on Fire TV, with full shopping feature postponed


The Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick have had the ability to shop products for some time, but the feature has been sitting dormant. A trusted source within Amazon, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells me a full-fledged shopping feature was nearly complete and ready to be tested in the wild, but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pulled the feature after receiving a demo. His biggest complaint was the limited shopping cart functionality. The Fire TV shopping feature demoed to Bezos allowed customers to either buy products immediately via Amazon’s 1-Click feature or add items to your Amazon shopping cart to then be purchased later through the website. Bezos insisted on the ability to manage your shopping cart and checkout on the Fire TV itself, so the shopping feature has been postponed. I’m told it’s not uncommon for a team within Amazon to work on something, get it mostly done, and then have the feature/project pulled or cancelled by Bezos. While the Fire TV’s full-fledged shopping feature likely won’t be released in time for the upcoming holiday shopping season, Amazon has started using parts of the shopping feature to allow Fire TV owners to buy select products through banner ads on the Fire TV’s home screen. Read on for a spotlight of this new limited shopping ability which gives us a good indication of what the full shopping experience will be like once it arrives on Fire TV devices. Read more ›

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