Launching apps and videos with Alexa is now working on the Amazon Fire TV

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The new feature of launching apps and starting videos using your voice is now live and working on the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. You can use either a voice remote or the Fire TV Remote App to say “Watch…” or “Play…” plus the name of a movie or show to immediately start a video. To start an app or game, you can say “Launch…” or “Open…” plus the software’s name. Your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick needs to be running software version 5.2.1.0 or greater for the new feature to work. Read more ›

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Revised 5.2.1.0 Fire TV software update fixes screensaver issues

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Several people have reported that the new revised 5.2.1.0 software update, marked with a build number of 550145120, has fixed a bug preventing the Fire TV’s screensaver from launching. A broken screensaver could be reason enough for Amazon to halt the first 5.2.1.0 software update and release a revised version. While most modern TVs would be fine without a scrensaver, some people rely on it to prevent burn-in. Unknowingly having the screensaver disabled could ruin some TVs, which is reason enough for Amazon to stop rolling out a software update and rush out a fixed version.

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New version of Fire TV software update 5.2.1.0 starts rolling out

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It appears a revised version of Fire TV software update 5.2.1.0 is starting to make its way out to devices. When the 5.2.1.0 update first made an appearance 3 weeks ago, it carried with it a build number of 550144920. Devices are now starting to receive software updates marked as version 5.2.1.0 but with a new build number of 550145120. A new build number with the same software version number is usually an indication that something was wrong with the initial release. Amazon likely halted the rollout of the first 5.2.1.0 version, which would explain why so many devices have still not received the update.

It’s unknown what the new software update adds or fixes. Perhaps this revised version of 5.2.1.0 will bring the ability to launch apps and videos with Alexa, which is a feature we expected to arrive with the 5.2.1.0 update but never did. Sound off in the comments when you receive this new revised version of 5.2.1.0 and if you notice anything different or new.

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Amazon Fire TV possibly gaining support for TV tuners

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While continuing my disection of the new 5.2.1.0 softwre update for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, I noticed that Amazon had added Linux software libraries necessary to support TV tuners. I initially dismissed it because I assumed it was part of the Android core that Fire OS uses, since Android TV is gaining ground as the operating system for TVs and therefore needs to support tuners. However, now I’m starting to believe the Fire TV may actually be gaining TV tuner support in the future.

The Linux kernel in this new software update, as pointed out to me by rbox, includes Linux DVB components which are used for USB TV tuners. The biggest piece of evidence is a comment in the kernel configuration that says “Linux DVB for tv tuners, needs world read/write to allow amazon apps to configure tuners and display their output.” Read more ›

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Amazon Fire TV gains VoiceView screen reader for visually impaired navigation

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Amazon has added a screen reader mode, that they’re calling VoiceView, to the Amazon Fire TV. When enabled, it reads aloud on-screen text and provides an alternate navigation method to help visually impaired customers navigate the Fire TV interface. To enable VoiceView, you press and hold the BACK and MENU button on your remote for a few seconds. The feature will start a verbal welcome tutorial the first time it is activated to teach new users about its capabilities. Read more ›

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Amazon Fire TV parental controls can now restrict content by rating

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Software update 5.2.1.0 for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick has added more granular parental control options. Prior to this update, parents could only enable or disable Amazon Video content as a whole on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Now it is possible to restrict content based on the rating of the movie or TV show. Any content rated higher than the one selected would require a PIN code to be entered before viewing is allowed. Read more ›

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Software version 5.2.1.0 blocks rooting via A-to-A USB cable on Fire TV 2

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It appears that the method to root the Fire TV 2 using an A-to-A USB cable, discovered by Eric (a.k.a zeroepoch) and later improved by rbox, no longer works with software version 5.2.1.0. When connecting the Fire TV 2 via USB, the preloader handshake works, but the script is unable to read the device’s partitions. I don’t know if this is something that can be resolved by updating the rooting script, but for now, the last rootable software version for the Fire TV 2 is version 5.0.5.1 using this guide. Fire TV 2’s running 5.0.0 thru 5.0.5 should still use the simpler KingRoot method to root. Read more ›

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Exclusive: Live streaming video and channels coming to the Amazon Fire TV

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I have begun my dissection of the new 5.2.1.0 software update for the Amazon Fire TV and have found strong evidence that support for live streaming video from Amazon is coming to the device. Deep in the code are newly added buttons and styling which mark videos in the main Fire TV interface as “On Now” with accompanying “Watch Live” buttons. Additionally, there are new references in the code to “Live Stations” and “Live Channels” which seem to indicate that, when the functionality arrives, it won’t just be individual live shows, but rather, continuous live programming. Read more ›

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Fire TV software update 5.2.1.0 is now rolling out

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A new software update for the Fire TV is beginning to roll out to devices. It appears the new update carries version number 5.2.1.0 (550144920), which is quite a jump form the previous version, which was 5.0.5.1. This is likely the update that will add the ability to launch apps and videos using Alexa, although one user is reporting the new commands are not working yet. It’s possible the feature will be remotely enabled once more devices receive the update.

This update might block rooting on the Fire TV 2 or blacklist FireStopper, the workaround version of FireStarter. So if that’s a concern for you, be sure you have updates blocked until we learn more. I haven’t received the update yet, but I will post a breakdown of what it adds and changes once I do. If you’ve received the update and have noticed something added or changed, be sure to let everyone know in the comments below.

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Local movie search via Alexa coming to the Fire TV

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Along with the announcement of the new ability to launch apps and videos with Alexa, Amazon has revealed that the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick will gain the ability to search for local movies and show times using Alexa. Other Alexa devices, like the Amazon Echo, gained this feature at the beginning of the year, but now it will finally come to Fire TV devices. Fire TV owners will soon be able to say “Alexa, what movies are playing?” and Alexa will use the device’s zip code setting to locate nearby theaters and read off local movie titles. To hear show times, you’ll be able to say “what time is [movie title] playing?” and other similar phrases.

Amazon also mentioned that Fire TV owners can search for local businesses with Alexa and have Alexa read Kindle e-books, but those features have actually been available to Fire TV owners for some time now. A timeframe other than “in the coming weeks” hasn’t been revealed for when the local movie search feature will arrive. It’s likely the feature will be added in the next software update.

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