Tip: Use “sight-based” commands when controlling the Amazon Fire TV through an Alexa device

The unfortunate reality is that with each new capability that Alexa gains, it becomes more likely that Amazon’s voice assistant will execute a command in an unintended way. Now that Alexa can be used to remotely control the Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and Fire TV Edition televisions, users are finding that many of the new Fire TV commands overlap with existing commands. If you were to say “Alexa, play Nightcrawler” there is no way to know if the Jake Gyllenhaal movie from 2014 will begin playing on your Fire TV or if any one of the dozens of songs of the same name will begin playing on the Alexa device. One solution to this problem is to always end your command with “…on Fire TV” but there is a more elegant solution, which is to use sight-based commands whenever possible.

To get an Alexa device to start playing a specific movie or TV show on your Fire TV, instead of saying “Alexa, play [title]” get in the habit of saying “Alexa, watch [title].” By using a sight-based command, it’s clear that you want to see something on your TV and not hear something on the Alexa device, so you’re leaving less room for misinterpretation.

You can use an Alexa device to search for content on the Fire TV by saying “Alexa, search for [movie/show/genre/app] on Fire TV” or “Alexa, find [movie/show/genre/app] on Fire TV.” Instead, you’re better off saying “Alexa, show me [movie/show/genre/app]” because it’s clear you want to see something on the TV and not just hear a response from the Alexa device you’re talking to.

Since the Amazon Echo Show has a screen, using sight-based Fire TV commands doesn’t mitigate the confusion on that device, so you’ll still need to specify “…on Fire TV” with the Echo show. That said, it’s still best to use sight-based commands when making Fire TV requests, since odds are you’re usually going to be making requests to an Alexa device without a screen.

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7 comments
  1. Joe says:

    I’ve tried to get Alexa to play something on the Fire TV but it never auto plays, maybe I haven’t tried the right thing. It gets me to a screen where I have to hit play on the remote, kind of negates using the voice command to begin with. “Alexa, Watch Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Kahn on Fire TV” and it gets me to a page with my viewing options, but still need the remote to play it for example.

    • Lenin says:

      Try asking to play something that exist in prime only like man in the high Castle that will work

    • Ryan says:

      Agree. Trying to get an echo dot to control the fire tv is a pretty frustrating and terrible experience for the most part.

      For example – I’m trying to get alexa to launch any amazon music playlist, station or song, and it can’t seem to do it.

      The more frustrating part is that if I use the fire tv remote and after clicking the mic button say “listen to classic rock” it works great.

      Now you would think I could just tell echo dot – “listen to classic rock on firetv” but it doesn’t work at all! It does some stupid voice search for “classic rock” which brings up movies & tv, apps & games results.

      Anyone been able to launch amazon music stations or playlists via echo dot?

      • Ryan says:

        Actually just figured out that if I say get super specific and say something like “alexa play classic rock in amazon music app on firetv” then it actually gives me the following frustrating response:

        “Sorry I can’t play music on that device. Playing here instead…” and it just plays on my echo dot.

        So perhaps this integration will be turned on in the future.

  2. Ray says:

    Will voice commands launch apps like Kodi on the Fire TV?

    • oppman29 says:

      you can not even open kodi now with the controller… you can only open apps that you directly downloaded from amazon not the sideloaded that dont exist in the amazon market

  3. Robert Simandl says:

    I think the next “How-To” guide here needs to be a list of Fire TV commands that work from Alexa (or is it the other way around?) :D

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