Amazon announced an update to Fire TV and its smaller companion, the Fire TV Stick, which will bring expanded Alexa-powered voice search to both devices, as well as a way to receive personalized recommendations from top streaming sites, like Netflix and HBO. The company notes that its voice search feature will now work across over 75 apps and channels, which is more than any rival streaming media player.
Roku’s search, for example, works across over 25 streaming channels, the company said earlier this year, and Apple TV’s 4th generation device allows for Siri-powered voice search on an even smaller number of streaming TV apps.
Amazon’s update, then, puts it ahead in this department. Users can now ask Alexa about any TV show or movie, and the Fire TV will return a more comprehensive list of services where that content is available along with the different viewing options, like watch, stream, rent, or purchase.
In addition, Alexa will now power Amazon Video, too, which means you can tell the virtual assistant to rewind or move forward in the video you’re watching, among other things. For instance, you could say, “rewind 30 seconds” or “skip ahead 2 minutes,” or you can even just say “next” to move to the next episode in the series.
Plus, Alexa can give you updates on your favorite sports teams and scores, which is triggered by saying “give me my sports update.” (You’ll have to first configure your favorite teams using the Alexa app, of course.)
Beyond Alexa’s expanded capabilities, Amazon has worked with Netflix and HBO to bring in the companies’ personalized recommendations into the Fire TV interface. If you’re a subscriber to either service, you’ll see their suggestions of what to watch right on the Fire TV home page. For HBO, this includes both HBO GO (for pay TV subscribers) and HBO NOW (the app for cord cutters). HBO NOW isn’t ready immediately, but will be soon, Amazon notes.
Amazon says more providers will get the same treatment in the coming months.
All the new features are rolling out starting today, and will be made available to current Fire TV and Fire TV Stick owners via a free, over-the-air software update.