Amazon adds Entertainment Capabilities to Alexa so skill developers can better control TVs and media players

Amazon has announced an expansion of the Alexa Skill API which gives skill developers and device manufacturers more natural ways to control media devices like TVs, remotes, A/V receivers, and IR hubs. This new capability is surely what will make it possible to control the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick using Alexa devices, which is a new feature that Amazon accidentally leaked yesterday.

These new capabilities will allow Alexa devices like the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot to remotely control media playback and settings on entertainment devices. Example commands that are now possible for developers to implement are “Alexa, turn on the TV,” “Alexa, fast forward,” “Alexa, make it louder,” or “Alexa, switch input to Blu-Ray.”

Sony has already implemented these new abilities into their Alexa smart home skill for some of their 2017 4K HDR televisions to control power on/off, change volume, switch inputs, and control media playback. Harmony has also already used the new features to improve their Alexa skill. Where before they needed two different skills to achieve the controls they wanted, the one smart home skill can now control volume, channels, and media playback. This removes the need of having to say “Alexa, ask Harmony to turn up the volume” and lets users of Harmony’s remotes now simply say “Alexa, turn up the volume” and other natural commands.

Broadlink has also worked with Amazon to already implement the new capabilities to their home automation hubs. Alexa skills from Denon, Crestron, LG and Pulse-Eight which use these new features will be coming soon.

  1. Ujn Hunter says:

    Really hope that Harmony didn’t remove the ability to still say “Alexa, ask Harmony to…” because these new commands might be great for new users, but not so great for people who have already been doing all these commands for a year now.

  2. Frank Lin says:

    Anyone uses the Broadlink hubs? How are they compared to the Logitech Harmony hub?
    Now that Fire TV is supported by Alexa on the Echo, I just need to be able to control my TV with the Echo. Unlike Sony, I have a feeling Samsung TVs will never be supported natively without a hub. Can anyone create the skills or can only Samsung create the skills that would work with their TVs?

    • gdroid666 says:

      i use the broadlink RM pro it has RF too so i can use it to control my ceiling fan and RF outlets and cheap chinese RF relays
      but i am not sure what he is talking about in this article saying that

      “Broadlink has also worked with Amazon to already implement the new capabilities to their home automation hubs.”

      i am not aware of this at all ,i had to purchase a $7 3rd party app called RM taskr plugin and run it on an always on android device to act as a bridge
      to get it to work with alexa as far as i am aware this is the only way possible to get broadlink RM devices to work with alexa if Elias knows something i don’t i hope he will elaborate here

      the bridge app is good but it only has on or off commands
      everything shows up as basically a wemo in the smarthome alexa section

      it is good because you do not have to invoke an skill to use it you just say “alexa TV on”
      but i guess now with the new API it is kind of irrelevant
      but i doubt the developer of the bridge app will bother to update it
      my major complaint with the bridge app is that it will not reconnect if the wifi drops out even for a split second the RM devices will reconnect automatically though
      i contacted the developer and his answer is basically tuff luck get a stable wifi no plans to fix it
      but i live in a crowded areas and wifi sucks because the spectrum is way over crowded all my neighbors have comcrap and they have their wireless gateway and their own wifi routers too and both are turned on so there are like 5 ssid’s coming from every single apartment , the only solution is to buy an android box with ethernet to run the app

      i have it running on an old phone i hotwired to run on AC and i have to close and restart the app every time the wifi drops which is about 50 times a day here no matter which channel i switch to even with the phone literally on top of the router ,very frustrating

      if the developer is not even willing to add basically functionality like
      the ability for his $7 app to reconnect after a drop then i don’t think he is going to care about updating with the new API changes either but i could be worng

      it is good device and about $10 for the blackbean if you just want IR and no RF control
      i figure the PRO which i got for $26 was worth it for the RF

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