Amazon wants to bring Alexa into another room in your home — the living room. the 4K Fire TV’s voice-activated remote can now help control your smart home.
Lots of people use their Amazon Echo speakers in the kitchen as a hands-free assistant who can convert ounces to cups (or give advice on boiling eggs) just by asking Alexa. But the Bluetooth speaker can do lots more than that, and Amazon has incorporated some of those features into the Fire TV (currently on sale for $75), which is the retailer’s first device besides Echo to get Alexa. You press the voice button on your remote, and Alexa answers through the Fire TV.
In addition to playing music from your library or audiobooks from Audible, you can use the Fire TV’s remote to ask the time in Denver, the score of a hockey game, what the weather will be like tomorrow, or to reorder something you’ve previously purchased from Amazon. These features have come to the Echo over the past several months, including smart-home control in April. But while the Echo has had smart-home capability for months, it’s brand new for Fire TV.
Just like the speaker, the Fire TV can now control Philips Hue lights, Wink products, SmartThings devices, and more based on your voice commands. To add more functionality to your smart home, both the Echo and Fire TV also integrate with IFTTT, which lets you make “recipes,” like turning on the lights when the SmartThings hub detects you’ve arrived home or putting a reminder about an upcoming game in your calendar when you ask for a team’s schedule.
“At this time, Alexa is only available on Amazon Fire TV devices running Fire OS software version 5 or higher and Fire TV Stick devices running Fire OS 5.0.3 or higher,” according to Amazon. But that’s likely just the beginning, given that the company opened up an SDK to developers, so they can incorporate Alexa into other connected devices and apps. If you’re imagining a future where you ask your alarm clock the weather while in your bedroom, the Fire TV for last night’s sports scores in the living room, and your Echo for a healthy smoothie recipe in the kitchen, Amazon is likely right there with you.