Amazon said its Fire TV platform has added far-field control, a feature that will let users pair the streaming players with any of their Alexa-powered Echo devices and control certain features and functions with their voice. For Fire TV Edition Smart TVs, it will be rolling out within the coming week.
"Alexa, watch The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 6" might be one command, for example.
This puts the Echo ahead of other smart home assistants, such as Google Home, which can only search through Netflix at the moment and doesn't allow users to control other third-party apps on their TVs. It's possible Apple's HomePod speaker will allow users to control their TVs by voice, too, though Apple hasn't confirmed that yet. In addition, consumers will soon be able to view live video feeds from supported smart home cameras right from their Fire TV.
Amazon is expanding what Fire TV users can do with their Echo devices. And, when connected to an HD antenna, you'll be able to change the channel, pause and resume over-the-air live TV playback, launch the on-screen channel guide, and more.
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For about a year, the only thing Alexa's had to offer when it comes to controlling your TV using voice commands is an integration with the Logitech Harmony smart remote.
Generally, all this Fire TV functionality is a long time coming.
"To help ensure the latest safeguards are in place, as a general rule, we recommend customers purchase Amazon devices from Amazon or a trusted retailer and that they keep their software up-to-date", Amazon said in a press statement. This makes sense, especially if you don't feel like checking your phone to see who's at the front door, or if you want to check in on your kids while watching TV in another room.
"The rooting of the Amazon Echo device in itself was trivial; however, it raises a number of important questions for manufacturers of Internet enabled or "Smart Home" devices", says Mark Barnes, security consultant at MWR InfoSecurity. I'm sure people will use it frequently.