Amazon launches its new AI-powered voice search on Fire TVs but leaves out the best parts

Amazon has announced the launch of its new AI-enhanced voice search for Fire TV devices which promises to make finding “personalized TV show and movie recommendations using natural language” simple and easy. The update was first announced last fall and looked impressive in the demo video, but what’s starting to roll out now is missing some of the useful flair that was demonstrated last year.

Fire TV’s new voice search has been “rebuilt from the bottom up” according to Amazon’s Alexa & Fire TV VP Daniel Rausch, who spoke to Lowpass. It uses an Amazon-built large language model (LLM) that has been trained on Amazon’s IMDb data, meaning this isn’t just another generic chatbot like ChatGPT.

The new search allows you to ask for results based on genre, topic, plot points, actors, characters, and quotes without needing to form the request in any specific way. The recommendations will be marked with what streaming service they are available from so you know if it’s free to you. Example searches provided by Amazon are as follows:

  • Show me movies about dog and human friendships.
  • Show me psychological thrillers with surprise endings.
  • Find sci-fi TV shows about time travel.
  • Show me classic comedy series about roommates.
  • Find Korean horror films.
  • Find me medical drama shows.
  • Find the mystery movie set on a private island.
  • Show me movies where people get sucked into a video game.
  • What movie has the line, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates?’
  • Find me the show where someone says, ‘Winter is coming.’
  • What movie has the line, ‘You’re killing me Smalls?’

While the new Fire TV search seems like a nice upgrade from what we already have, it’s missing the most useful part of what was demoed when the update was first announced, which is the ability to filter results through a back-and-forth conversation with Alexa. The demo from last year started with a broad search of “find some action movies” and was then narrowed down with four additional voice requests that asked for free ones, unwatched ones, teen-appropraite ones, and ended by saying “We’re also big video game fans. Which ones should we go for?” That sequence of five linked requests ultimately led to a top result of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Amazon is launching the new Fire TV search feature in conjunction with the device’s 10th anniversary. Given that the actual anniversary took place almost two months prior, and the initial announcement came over eight months ago, it appears Amazon may have been overly ambitious and promised more than it could deliver at the outset. However, Amazon’s Joshua Park, senior manager of product for Fire TV, told The Verge that the missing capabilities are planned for future updates, so there’s still hope that the more useful aspects will arrive at some point.

The new Fire TV search is rolling out now but only in the US and only in English. It’s coming to Fire TV devices running Fire OS 6 and later, which includes all models released in 2017 and later. Amazon says it should be “on all eligible Fire TV devices in the U.S. in the coming weeks.”

7 comments
  1. Mike says:

    They always have to leave room for ‘new and improved’ versions later. Otherwise they wouldn’t have any reason for deprecating the older devices that still work just fine but, well, they’re old.

  2. Tingo says:

    Will it include sponsored answers and how long before it’s infested with ads

  3. Richard says:

    The Fire TV Home screen incorrectly lists the wrong release year for multiple movies – or at least does so in the UK. It mainly seems to happen on movies uploaded by indie distributors where a movie from the 50s, 80s or early 00s is listed as being released in 2024. Probably an issue with them getting confused by publication date and release date? But not a good look for Amazon who own IMDb and can’t get simple information correct.

  4. EmoBrianEno says:

    I like your search in the screenshot. My Siberian Husky is my best friend and makes my world complete.

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