Tell Alexa to skip the commercial and your TiVo will make it happen

Alexa TiVo

Starting today, May 14, TV junkies now have a new pal to keep them company while they binge on their favorite shows. A new Alexa skill, which was teased back in March, now lets TiVo users leave their remote control on the coffee table without giving up control of their DVR.

Commands like “Alexa, watch CBS,” or “Alexa, go to Fox” will do just that: A connected TiVo DVR will dutifully switch channels so that you can go about your regular activities without needing to reach for the remote, whether that activity is cooking in the kitchen, or simply guiding that next handful of popcorn into your mouth. But the command that will likely be used most, and with considerable glee, is the crowd-pleasing, “Alexa, skip commercials,” to perform TiVo’s skip mode jump.

Additional commands include “play,” “pause,” “go back” (an eight-second reverse skip), “fast forward,” and “rewind.” There’s even the option to launch any of the streaming services that TiVo supports, with “Alexa, open Netflix.” Alexa aficionados will take note that no extra modifier is needed to get Alexa to recognize that you want to control a TiVo, instead of say, your Sonos.

This is accomplished partially through context. If you are issuing Sonos-related commands, and decide to switch to TiVo control, you’ll need to get Alexa to switch her focus. “Alexa, pause on TiVo,” will do the trick, and from then on — until you switch her focus again — all compatible commands will work on your DVR without needing to add “on TiVo.”

If you own an Alexa device and one of these TiVos: Series 4, 5, and 6 DVR boxes including TiVo Premiere, TiVo Roamio, and TiVo BOLT, you’ve got everything you need to start barking at your TV. But if you’ve got a Google Home device instead, don’t worry — you’re still invited to the voice command party — your invitation is on its way. “We want to continue to invest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and far field experiences with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home,” Andrew Heymann, TiVo’s senior director of product management said in a blog post, “which we have already started working on.” As to the timing of the Google Home launch, neither Heymann nor TiVo are offering anything specific.

This Alexa skill isn’t the only way to talk to a TiVo. The company launched its first voice-enabled DVRs earlier this year, and is busy updating its entire line of devices with the “Vox” appendix, which indicates that it ships with (or is compatible with) TiVo’s voice-enabled remote control.

Product Review

Hisense’s new H8E 4K TV serves up a pretty picture at a very nice price

Budget TVs continue to get more attractive and that includes the latest from Chinese TV maker Hisense. The company’s new H8E, which offers 4K resolution, HDR, and a slick design for well under $500.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Home Theater

What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?

There are more ways to mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV than you might think. Check out our rundown of MHL for everything you need to know about the wired protocol and its myriad uses.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this fall with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Deals

Here are the best 4K TV deals for November 2018

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Alita: Battle Angel,’ ‘Detective Pikachu,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's new trailers for cyberpunk adventure Alita: Battle Angel, game adaptation Pokémon Detective Pikachu…