Amazon’s Echo device may have launched a few years before any real competitors hit the market. But up until now there’s been one nifty feature that Google Home had that Amazon’s devices did not: if you have a Chromecast-enabled TV you can control it with your voice by talking to a Google Home.
Now Amazon has caught up. The company is rolling out a software update for the Fire TV that lets you use an Amazon Alexa device to control video playback on a Fire TV.
Update: Actually, it looks like Amazon had updated its support page to describe the new feature, but it doesn’t seem to be working yet.
Update 8/01/2017: The feature is now live. For real this time.
Here’s how it works: when a video is playing on your Fire TV, you can say things like “pause,” “play,” “fast forward,” rewind,” “resume,” or “next episode.
You can also search for videos by name, genre, or actor, or tell Alexa to open an app on your Fire TV.
The new features are part of Fire OS 188.8.131.52 or later for the 2nd-gen Fire TV, or Fire OS 184.108.40.206 for the 1st-gen model and all Fire TV Stick devices.
via Android Police
I have been studying this since we got our Echo. I finally figured it out, I think. The fire TV update allow Alexa, NOT Echo to control your TV using your voice on the remote control. Most of us assumed that meant through the Echo device.
I suspect that Echo control of Fire TV will not be for a few years when their Dish contract permits it. They most likely have a 2 year clause that allows Echo to only work with Dish.
This site has more detail about this feature. It appears to have been an accidental page update before the feature is fully ready.
Stupid captchas. Now they have me listening to the radio and transcribing it.
Can you please do a follow up on this story. I cannot find an update for the Echo or Fire TV. Other Echo owners have been making the same observation. What’s going on? If I’m missing something, please let me know.
Fire TV Device Software Updates:
Casting via voice is one of the most used features of Google Home in our house. It’s brilliant with a couple of small flaws.
Netflix hasn’t worked out how to change which user is casting. The way it has worked out for us this isn’t an issue but I can see where it might be a total PITA for some.
It’s great for Youtube when you are all in the living room and somebody remembers a video they wanted to show everyone. If you can recall what it was about Google typically finds it for you very readily. And it has made the music stations that typically come along with a cable tv subscription completely superfluous.
The real hiccup though is with Google’s Cast Receiver. It’s a very good product but really really needs HDMI pass-through to be absolutely brilliant.
Right now it uses CEC to switch to the tuner with the Chromecast on it. Great! But CEC is a confusing mess with different names and such on different makes of TV. It also doesn’t have a facility to switch back from an input to a default or primary input.
This all makes it a confusing mess for non-techy types. And a bit of a PITA even if you know what you are doing. Because now when you are done streaming you’ve got to get the TV remote to switch sources back.
HDMI pass-through would make it really fantastic and simple and something even my aged Mother could set up and use easily.
I noticed at I/O this year in talking about casting to screens they talked a little about some cast information only covering part of the screen. I’m really hopeful this is indicative of a Gen 3 device with pass-through being in the offing. If so I’ll buy a couple of them on day 1.
Have the update on my living room Fire TV. Tried to say “Open PBS Kids on Fire TV”, but Alexa just says that skill is not enabled. Hmmm
Did you – you know, enable the skill?
Tell me which skill smart ass
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