Amazon’s Alex voice assistant is definitely having a moment. Yet, while ordering things online or checking the weather with your voice can be a fun and novel experience, one of Alexa’s finest qualities is saving you the irksome trouble of typing search terms into Amazon’s streaming video service on your Fire TV streaming device. The only problem with this useful feature to date has been a dearth of compatible apps outside Amazon’s own service — and this week, Alexa got a lot more versatile in that department. Expanding Alexa’s capabilities on Amazon’s streaming devices, Fire TV owners are now able to use voice commands to load content from a healthy selection of streaming apps, including heavy hitters like Hulu and Showtime.
With the new update, saying a phrase like “Alexa, play The Mindy Project,” will load Mindy Kaling’s show on Hulu. Outside of Hulu’s existing library of content, voice support is also included for Hulu’s Live TV subscription, specifically allowing users to switch to channels using voice commands. You can also use voice commands to bring up genres of shows or movies within an app. For example, you can ask Alexa to show you all dramas or comedies that are listed within the Showtime app.
Beyond Hulu and Showtime, voice control is now supported on apps for Bravo, CBS All Access, NBC, and Sony’s PlayStation Vue, though Netflix is still conspicuously absent.
While you are watching video, you also have a bevy of new voice control options. Users can utilize commands like “watch,” “play,” “pause,” “rewind,” “fast-forward five minutes,” “start over,” and “play from the beginning.” If you have an older Fire TV without Alexa support built into the remote control, you can pair a stand-alone Echo with your Fire TV in order to take advantage of the voice commands. You can also use the Fire TV remote app on your smartphone.
This expansion of voice support on Fire TV has arrived just days after Amazon sold millions of Alexa devices over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Amazon stated that the best-selling item on Cyber Monday was the Echo Dot, and analysts have estimated Amazon has sold roughly 20 million Echo devices to date. Beyond stand-alone Echo devices, Amazon has been aggressively promoting Element HDTV models with Fire TV functionality built into the panel.
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