How to use the new Smart Home Dashboard on Amazon Fire TVs and Firesticks

Amazon has recently made a Smart Home Dashboard available on select Fire TV devices, as spotted by some Reddit users. It seems as though the dashboard is only available to some devices and/or some users, so you may not be able to access it. Here is an overview of how to use it and some of the things it can do. Read more ›

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Alexa Reminders can now come from all devices simultaniously

Along the same theme as the new Group Drop In feature, which allows you to communicate through all of your Echo devices simultaneously, Amazon has also made it possible for Alexa Reminders to be heard through all devices as well. You can now default all reminders to come from all devices or specify individual reminders to be spoken from all devices. Read more ›

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Alexa can now Drop In on all Echo devices for whole-home conversations

Alexa is now able to Drop In on all of your Echo devices at once. The Drop In feature, which lets you begin communicating through your Echo without needing anyone on the other end to pick up the call, used to only be a 2-way conversation between 2 devices. With the addition of Group Drop In, as Amazon is calling it, now all Echos can communicate simultaneously, like a multi-point intercom system. Read more ›

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Amazon Alexa can now play a news playlist from a single publication

Alexa’s flash briefing feature is a great way to hear a summary of news from multiple sources, but if you want a more detailed news report, there’s now a new feature that will give you just that. Alexa customers in the US can now ask their devices to “play news” or “tell me the news” from a specific news organization, as reported by Engadget. Doing so will play what is essentially a playlist of news stories from that one publication, with each story being longer than what you get during a flash briefing. Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, Newsy, and NPR are the first to provide the new format. If you’re not interested in the story being played, you can simply ask for the next story to skip ahead. Alexa devices with screens, like the Echo Show and Fire TVs, will play news videos when available.

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Apple Music is now available on all Amazon Fire TVs

Support for the Apple Music Skill has just arrived on the Amazon Fire TV. All Fire TV models in the US can now use Alexa to listen to their Apple Music subscription by simply making a music request by voice and adding “on Apple Music” to the end of the request. If you’ve already set up the Apple Music Skill, from when support arrived on Echo devices, you’re already set to listen through a Fire TV device. For everyone else, you’ll need to link the skill to your Apple Music subscription through the Alexa app. From there you can also set Apple Music as your default music service, if you’d like, so that all music requests play through Apple’s service, without needing to specifically say “…on Apple Music.” Additionally, Fire TV Cube owners will be able to listen to Apple Music synced up with other Alexa devices, since the Cube gained support for whole-home audio a few months ago. Support for Apple Music on both Fire TVs and Echos will be coming to the UK in a few weeks.

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Alexa can now control Roku media players and TVs

Roku has released an Alexa skill that allows customers to control Roku media players and Roku TVs with their voice through an Alexa device, like an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. The skill allows you to control media playback, launch channels, and search. Roku TV owners will additionally be able to use the skill to power on/off the TV, change the volume, change channels, and switch inputs. Read more ›

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Alexa can now announce what song is about to play

Amazon has launched a new feature for Alexa called Song ID that allows the voice assistant to announce the artist and title of each song before it plays. You likely wouldn’t use the feature for albums you know or playlists you created, but it can come in handy when playing stations or playlists curated by other people that are filled with new music you’ve never heard before. It sort of turns Alexa into a radio DJ who announces each song as it plays. To turn the feature on, simply say “Alexa, turn on Song ID” at anytime. As you’d expect, say “Alexa, turn off song ID” to turn it off.

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Amazon now lets you publish your custom Alexa Skills to the Alexa Skill Store

Amazon introduced Alexa Blueprints last year as a way for anyone to create their own Alexa SKills, without any coding, right from a web browser. They later made it possible to share those custom skills with friends and family, but now they’ve announced that you can publish your custom skills to the Alexa Skill store for anyone to use. Read more ›

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Amazon launches new ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Alexa Skill through Audible

Amazon has teamed up with ChooseCo, publishers of the classic Choose Your Own Adventure series of books, to bring their guided adventure stories to Alexa devices. A new Choose Your Own Adventure Alexa Skill has been released using Amazon’s Audible brand. The skill currently offers two different books that are both free. Read more ›

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Amazon adds Baby logging capabilities to Alexa through new Skill API

Amazon has announced the release of a Baby Activity Skill API for Alexa devices. This will allow parents to use natural language with Alexa to log their babies activity through apps and devices. To start off, the API will allow Weight, Sleep, Diaper Change, and Feeding commands. Read more ›

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