Alexa on the Fire TV will soon be able to launch apps and videos


Amazon has just announced upcoming additional features for Alexa on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. A software update “in the coming weeks” will add the ability to launch apps on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick using only your voice. The example phrases Amazon gives are “Open HBO Now” and “Launch Hulu.” It’s unknown at this point if launching apps with Alexa will work for sideloaded apps like Kodi, but due to the last software update that added sideloaded apps to the Fire TV’s home screen, I’d say it’s likely sideloaded apps will also be launchable with voice commands.

In addition to launching apps with Alexa, you’ll also now be able to launch Amazon videos using voice commands. Amazon says you can say things like “Play Interstellar,” or “Watch Veep” into the Fire TV’s voice remote to begin watching movies and TV shows. This feature only works for videos streamed by Amazon, so you can’t launch videos within apps like Hulu or Netflix using your voice, but it does include Amazon Prime add-on subscriptions like Starz and Showtime.

  1. Nate says:

    Can we use amazon echo to play videos on the fire TV? This is the feature I have been asking for since day one. I don’t see why not. It’s all on the same WiFi and uses the same server.

    • AFTVnews says:

      No, I’m pretty sure that ability won’t be included with this update.

    • Ujn Hunter says:

      I’ve been waiting for this also. The only reason I can see that this isn’t already a feature, is people with multiple Fire TVs/Sticks, but Amazon can certainly fix this by making people say: “Alexa, Play [Title] on [Insert Name Here] Fire TV”. Seeing you can name your devices on Amazon’s website.

      • Vonda Z says:

        Or they could allow you to set a FireTV to be the default in the Alexa app (or better yet – for each Echo/Dot, be able to set a default FireTV so that the Echos in different rooms control the FireTV in that room). So if I am in the living room and say, “Echo, start Netflix,” the Living Room Echo hears me and triggers the Living Room FireTV without needing me to specify “on Living Room FireTV.” But I can specify the FireTV if I want to override the default (eg, using a Tap in multiple rooms).

        Or, you specify which FireTV with the first command and from that point on, that FireTV is used without needing to be specified until you switch to controlling a different FireTV. This is how the AnyMote skill for the Echo determines which device to send the command to.

        There are really lots of easy ways to resolve this and it shouldn’t be any kind of hurdle other than deciding what method they would like to use.

        I think it is fantastic that they are adding actual voice control to the FireTV instead of just voice search. It is the first step to adding the necessary Echo integration – the FireTV must be able to handle such commands before the Echo can send such commands to it. I hope they add more such control (eg, pause, play, exit, home) in the future and then add some sort of developer tool so that the apps can also implement voice control and then eventually be controlled via the Echo as well. You have to believe that Amazon’s end game is to have all of their devices integrated in this way. Makes for a strong argument for buying a FireTV over a Roku or an AppleTV if you have an Echo.

        Right now, I use the free AnyMote app and the AnyMote Echo skill to control the FireTV. It works well, but you are just simulating remote presses. True voice control takes meaningful commands like this new functionality rather than a string of left, right, top, down, OK commands.

        • Liam says:

          All I really want is play and pause… So if this setup works the only annoyance I see is having to use a command longer than “Alexa, Play FireTV” “Alexa, Pause FireTV”

  2. Christopher Loughrey says:

    I highly doubt sideloaded apps like Kodi will work as sideloaded apps would have to be programmed into Alexa’s cloud database for her to recognise them, and if they are apps not officially supported by Fire TV Alexa won’t have them in her database.

    • Arthur says:

      It should not be that difficult. Could work like so:

      1. Voice -> text -> parse app name
      2. Installed apps -> extract names from meta data
      3. Search text from 1. in text from 2.

      A database is not flexible enough for this use case. It depends on what the programmers like to achieve, whether they want to control the search results. I really do not know where the difficulty is to provide a general service which could be used by every firetv app like netflix. It is all about politics.

  3. Kazzy says:

    When are they finally going to enable voice search within apps like Netflix/Hulu/Youtube/etc?

  4. Robert says:

    Fire TV already works with IFTTT recipes, such as, “Trigger, find my phone.” So it may be possible to build a command to launch sideloaded apps using the service.

    No need to say, “Alexa,” as that is a wake command for Echo and Echo Dot. Pushing the mic button on the Fire TV remote is the equivalent command.

  5. Hopeful says:

    I hope the update finally fixes the stuttering Amazon Video on first-gen Fire TV boxes introduced with 5.0.5

  6. IrishBiker says:

    I’ve heard about this Alexa, even seen a few funny videos on YouTube but then I’m in the UK so I’m placing Alexa in the same group as computer on Star Trek Enterprise,… Would be great to have but at the moment its just a dream…

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