One of the most common questions I’ve been asked recently, during the Q&A portion of the AFTVnewscast, is whether or not UK and German Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks will be getting access to Alexa on their devices like is available on US devices. Now that the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are officially available in the UK and Germany, you would think Amazon would activate Alexa on all Fire TVs, but they’ve been silent on the matter. I did some digging through the latest Fire TV software update to see if I could determine the answer to this question for myself and I think I’ve found evidence that suggest Alexa is indeed coming to Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks in the UK and Germany.
All Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks, regardless of where they’re sold, contain the exact same operating system. This means that UK and German Fire TVs have had Alexa capabilities ever since it was added to US Fire TVs, but the feature has been disabled if the Amazon account signed into the device is not a US account.
Over the weekend, I searched through the code in the new 18.104.22.168 Fire TV software update that pertains to Alexa and discovered newly added code that appears to allow Alexa to determine the country and language settings of the device. This code was not present prior to the latest software update. Since Alexa was only available in the US and could only understand English, there was no reason for the feature to know the device’s country and language.
While it’s not a guarantee, the addition of country and language identification for Alexa in the new software update is a strong indicator that Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks internationally will soon gain the ability to make Alexa requests. I speculate that Amazon is either waiting for the arrival of Echo in the UK on September 28th, or waiting for the announcement of new Fire TV hardware to be revealed, before activating Alexa on international Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks.