New software updates are currently rolling out to nearly all Amazon Fire TV models. While these updates aren’t the ones that are adding the new redesigned interface, they are adding a feature that might help you get more out of Alexa. When you press the microphone button on your Fire TV remote, you’ll now sometimes see suggestions across the bottom of the screen for what you can say to Alexa. These suggestions are contextual, meaning they are mostly relevant to the Fire TV screen that you are currently on.
Amazon recently revamped some of Alexa’s visual responses to be more compact and, in the process, moved the blue indicator bar that appears on the Fire TV screen from the top to the bottom. This blue bar will now occasionally list several things that you can try saying into your Fire TV remote’s microphone. So far, I’ve only seen the suggestions appear when the various tabs of the Fire TV’s main interface are on screen.
Even though you can pretty much give any Alexa command anywhere at any time, these new suggested Alexa commands listed by the blue bar aren’t just random. Instead, they are mostly relevant to the screen that you are on. For example, on the Live tab, there is a suggestion to try saying “Tune to CBS,” while on the Movies tab it suggests saying “Find 4K movies” and on the Apps tab, it suggests saying “Go to App Bundles,” among several other suggestions. That’s not to say that the suggestions are never random, because I saw it suggest saying “Show my Facebook photos” while browsing the TV tab and a suggestion to say “Show my Smart Home Dashboard” in the Free content tab.
One of the biggest hurdles for voice assistants is discoverability. How do you inform the user of a new feature when there is no visual interface for them to stumble across? Amazon has tried adding “by the way” prompts to the end of voice responses to inform users what they can try saying, but you can only do that so many times before it becomes very annoying. These new Alexa suggestions along the bottom of Fire TVs are a good use of empty space that just might inform you of a handy Alexa ability you didn’t know about, without being too intrusive.