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. Read more ›
Amazon has added a new accessibility feature to Fire TV devices that allows you to enable text captions for Alexa responses. The new option prints what Alexa is saying in a customizable box at the bottom of the Fire TV screen so that people who are deaf or hard of hearing can better understand Alexa. Those who don’t have impaired hearing may also find the captions useful if they aren’t fluent enough in Alexa’s various language options. The feature can also be used to silently see Alexa’s response, such as at night, while the TV is muted. Read more ›
Amazon is on an Alexa improvement kick with the Amazon Fire TV Cube that has been bringing formerly Echo-exclusive features to the streaming device. The Fire TV Cube gained support for Alexa Announcements earlier this month and now Amazon has announced that the next update will add support for multi-room music and Alexa follow-up mode. Multi-room music support will make it possible to sync music playback on the Fire TV Cube with all other whole-home audio capable Alexa devices, such as the Amazon Echo speaker line up. Follow-up mode allows the Fire TV Cube to continue listening after responding to a voice command so that customers don’t need to repeat the wake word before follow-up requests. Read more ›
Amazon has just updated their Fire TV Software Updates page with a new feature listing that states compatible Alexa devices can now control video playback on the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Additionally, you’ll be able to use compatible Alexa devices to launch Fire TV apps. The feature is not yet functional, but it should be available soon. Read more ›
Amazon just announced the availability of Alexa Display Cards for third-party manufacturers to incorporate into Alexa-enabled devices that have screens. These are the supplemental visual representations of Alexa responses that first appeared when Amazon added Alexa capabilities to the original Fire TV. Similar Alexa cards were later used on Fire tablets when they gained Alexa capabilities, but now that the the all-new Echo Show is a few days from release, Amazon has given visual Alexa responses a lot more attention and completely overhauled their layout. Part of the new Alexa card display guidelines is a large section dedicated to Alexa’s TV interface, which is very likely going to make its way to the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick in a future update. Read more ›
Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick owners in the US have had access to Alexa on their devices for over a year, but the voice assistant hasn’t made an appearance on Fire TV devices overseas yet. That has finally changed with the new 188.8.131.52 software update currently rolling out to all Fire TV models globally. In addition to bringing the new Fire TV user interface to older 1st-generation models, as well as a few other new features, the update adds Alexa to all UK and German Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks. Read more ›
A new software update for the Amazon Echo and the Echo Dot seems to be rolling out that adds the option to select “Computer” as the device’s wake word. Instead of using “Alexa,” or one of the alternatives like “Echo” and “Amazon”, you’ll be able to get a little closer to the ultimate dream of having the Star Trek computer in your home. The new option was first spotted by Reddit users as a new feature for software version 4812 on the German Amazon page for Echo software updates. Amazon’s page has since removed the new feature listing, but other redditors are reporting that the option is starting to appear in the wild.
Alexa on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick can now move the movie or TV show you’re watching forward or back any arbitrary amount you want. While watching a video you can hold down the microphone button on the voice remote or game controller and say “skip forward 5 minutes,” and the video will jump ahead seamlessly. You can also “rewind 30 seconds,” if say you didn’t hear something that was just said. Additionally, if you’re watching a TV series, you can say “next” to skip the current episode and start playing the next one. Oddly enough, saying “previous” or “back” to go to the previous episode is not supported.
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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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Amazon has just announced upcoming additional features for Alexa on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. A software update “in the coming weeks” will add the ability to launch apps on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick using only your voice. The example phrases Amazon gives are “Open HBO Now” and “Launch Hulu.” It’s unknown at this point if launching apps with Alexa will work for sideloaded apps like Kodi, but due to the last software update that added sideloaded apps to the Fire TV’s home screen, I’d say it’s likely sideloaded apps will also be launchable with voice commands.
In addition to launching apps with Alexa, you’ll also now be able to launch Amazon videos using voice commands. Amazon says you can say things like “Play Interstellar,” or “Watch Veep” into the Fire TV’s voice remote to begin watching movies and TV shows. This feature only works for videos streamed by Amazon, so you can’t launch videos within apps like Hulu or Netflix using your voice, but it does include Amazon Prime add-on subscriptions like Starz and Showtime.
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