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Fire TVs are getting expanded Alexa controls, new smart home features

The highly anticipated voice control update for Fire TV is now truly here

Alexa in front of Amazon Video app on a 4K Display
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
There’s something satisfying about controlling your smart TV or streaming device with just your voice. Since there’s no remote to keep track of or device inputs to fiddle with, you can just kick back, relax, and enjoy your what you’re watching. For Fire TV users, Amazon is expanding Alexa integration in Fire TVs and Fire TV Edition smart TVs so you can maintain your lounging position for the duration of your TV binge.

The first new feature is the ability to pair any Echo devices with your Fire TV. This combo enables you to control all playback on your Fire TV through voice commands, so yes, finally you’ll have truly hands-free operation of your television. You’ll also be able to perform complex voice searches, such as “Alexa, show me comedy movies.”

The setup process between the two is simple, with the Echo and Fire TV automatically pairing when you ask a question that includes the phrase “Fire TV,” while users with multiple Fire TVs will have to use the Alexa app.

For those with a Fire TV Edition smart TV, further voice command functionality is being added, including volume control, input switching, and even changing the channel when connected to HD OTA antennas. If you don’t yet have an HD antenna, check out our list for the best indoor antennas you can buy. Paired with a DVR, they’re a great option for cord-cutters.

Amazon also announced Alexa control of smart home cameras is coming to Fire TV devices in the future. With this new feature, users will be able to access live video feeds of smart device cameras installed in your home, and control them with voice commands.

While this news is sure to be a welcome addition for those with a Fire TV and Echo devices, we should point out that many Sony Smart TVs are also compatible with Alexa and share much of the same functionality that the Fire TV has. Similarly, many streaming devices, specifically the Google Chromecast family of devices and Android TVs can can also be controlled with Alexa’s rival AI, Google Assistant. Still, we welcome more Alexa integration for Fire TV devices, especially if it means we don’t have dig for the remote in order to things like change the channel, turn up the volume, find a new show, etc., and the new smart home video controls will be interesting to see in action.

The far-field TV control functionality is now live for all Fire TV and Echo owners, and all generation of Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are compatible with this update. As for controlling your Fire TV Edition smart TV, Amazon is still working on rolling that particular feature out.

Update: All Fire TV and Fire TV Stick owners can now control their devices with Alexa. 

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Brendan Hesse
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