It’s like Christmas for Fire TV fans because Amazon has unloaded a bunch of info on new Fire TV products and features. While the main focus has been on the new hardware, like the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Amazon-built Fire TV Omni Smart TVs, there are also quite a few new software features coming to both the new hardware and existing devices. Here’s a breakdown of the features coming soon to Fire TVs.
Before diving in, it’s not entirely clear which Fire TV models will be getting these features and when they’ll arrive. The new Fire TV Omni Smart TVs are certainly a shoo-in for getting all of these improvements, since most were announced in conjunction with those new TVs. I’ve asked Amazon about specifics for which devices will get these features and when, but they, unfortunately, only provided vague answers like “across Fire TV” and “rolling out broadly,” which could mean all devices will gt them, but could also not.
“Alexa, what should I watch?”
You will be able to ask your Fire TV “what should I watch” to begin an AI-driven dialogue with Alexa to receive content recommendations. This is using Amazon’s new Alexa Conversations feature, so it’s not supposed to be a boilerplate response, like it is now. The recommendations are supposed to be tailored from your streaming apps and you’ll be able to refine them by genre, actors, and more. It will launch in beta this year.
Alexa voice-based X-Ray Info
Way back in 2015, Amazon added the X-Ray feature to Fire TV devices for Prime Video content which allows you to press up on your remote while watching something to see a slew of information about the specific scene, like actor names, the music currently playing in the scene, trivia, and much more. Amazon is now making that information available by voice through Alexa. While watching something, you’ll be able to say “who is this actor” or other similar questions to pull up the appropriate answer. The information will appear at the bottom of the screen, on top of what you’re watching. A timeframe for the release hasn’t been given.
New Smart Home Dashboard
Amazon says it is launching an “all-new smart home dashboard” on Fire TV devices. There is already a smart home dashboard available on most Fire TVs, which can be accessed by saying “open smart home dashboard.” There’s no word on how the “all-new” one will differ, but it will allow you to control and view the state of your smart home devices. This is coming later this year.
Smart Camera Row on Fire TV
Amazon says it will be adding a “new row on Fire TV that is specifically dedicated to your smart cameras.” I assume, from the wording, that this will be added to the home screen of the Fire TV and not just in the smart home dashboard. Presumably, the row will list all of your security cameras and allow you to view a live feed when a specific camera is selected. A timeframe for the release hasn’t been given.
New Shortcut Panel
Amazon says it will be adding a new shortcut panel to Fire TVs for “smart home controls, communications, weather, news, and more.” The panel will be opened by tapping the microphone button on your remote and will appear at the bottom of the screen.
“Alexa, play Something from Netflix”
Earlier this year, Netflix added a “Play Something” button that uses your profile and watch history to suggest what to watch next. Amazon is exclusively integrating that functionality into Alexa on Fire TVs so that saying “play something on Netflix” will launch the feature directly. It will launch this fall.
TikTok app in the US and Canada
Earlier this year, TikTok released an official full-fledged app for Fire TV devices in the UK, Germany, and France. Amazon and TikTok have revealed that the app will finally be available to customers in the US and Canada. A timeframe for the release hasn’t been given.
The smart home/camera optimizations are the only things I care about with Fire TV and Android TV. It’s high time that TV’s become the focal point of the home with a smart hub/dashboard UI from viewing doorbell/camera feeds and light adjustments to customizable TV notifications etc, all from the main launcher home screen…not just from having to rely on voice commands.
Also? HomeKit and Airplay 2 for Fire TV cube and sticks, Elias?
Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, Bixby, Cortana… I’ve never warmed to or found a need to use any of them once the novelty wore off.
The only thing I use Alexa for is to play live radio.
looks like it’s time for me to transition to RING cameras. I may never have to leave the chair again
I saw the the title “New Shortcut Panel” and got excited.
Then my hopes and dreams were dashed. It’s not a customizable shortcut side panel for favorite apps. Why oh why???