Amazon's Fire TV voice search to improve this summer
When we reviewed Amazon’s new Fire TV set-top box, we dinged it a bit since its marquee voice-search feature doesn’t support all the streaming services present on the box. It primarily points users to Amazon’s own content, of course, while also providing some results for music videos on Vevo, and some (but not all) of the content on Hulu Plus. Voice search doesn’t surface anything on Netflix, which really limits its usefulness.
Amazon had stated at the Fire TV’s launch that its “vision” was to eventually integrate all the apps on the box with the voice search. But my vision is to look like Megan Fox, and guess what—results are what matters.
Fortunately for Fire TV owners, Amazon took steps on Thursday toward realizing its vision. The company announced that “starting this summer,” the full catalogs of Hulu Plus, Crackle, and Showtime will be integrated into the unified voice search. This means that users will be able to find Hulu Plus originals like Behind the Mask, which voice search doesn’t find today. Fire TV’s voice search currently offers Hulu Plus results on a separate screen from its main Amazon results, but comes up empty if what you’re searching for is on Hulu Plus but not on Amazon.
Amazon is still working on adding other promised features, such as Amazon MP3 integration and the Amazon FreeTime system of robust parental controls. (We’re still a little confused as to how those weren’t present at the Fire TV’s launch, since they are Amazon services, after all, but they’ll be nice to have, regardless.) Another newly announced feature that we requested in our review is “Prime browse,” which is designed to help users more easily find movies and TV shows that are included in their Prime Instant Video subscription. Right now, the Fire TV tends to lump those videos in with Amazon content that users must buy or rent, so we’d also like to see a way to filter search results to just the Prime content that subscribers can watch for free.
The Fire TV is $99, exclusively available at—you guessed it—Amazon.