Amazon’s boosting the features of Fire TV and Fire TV Stick with several convenient tweaks designed to make it easier to find the shows you actually want to watch.
On Wednesday, the company announced you will soon be able to find content with your voice on more than 75 apps and channels. This includes big name services such as Netflix and HBO Go. HBO Now support is coming soon.
Perhaps even more handy than the new voice search are new interface convenience features for Fire TV devices. Home screens will now feature rows with personalized recommendations from popular services, including HBO and Netflix.
On top of that, if you search for a show or movie and it’s available on multiple apps, then Fire TV can show you all your various options. That way you can decide whether you want to stream, rent, or purchase the show.
Voice features is something of a theme with this update. Amazon’s also adding Alexa voice controls for Amazon Video that will let you rewind or fast forward a video. You can tell Amazon to “rewind one minute” or “skip ahead 30 seconds.” Amazon says you’ll be able to indicate any measure of time you like for the new controls. You can also jump to the next video in a series by saying, “next.”
The Fire TV devices will also offer sports updates on demand, including scores and news. To use this feature you need to set your favorite teams within the settings of the Alexa app.
The new features are rolling out now to Fire TV and Fire TV Stick owners via an over-the-air update. If you don’t see the update yet it should land on your device in the coming days.
Why this matters: Voice controlled features for set-top boxes are nothing new. The Fire TV already offered some voice features and Apple famously added Siri to Apple TV in 2015. Amazon’s newest update sounds like the company is playing catch-up with its rival. Apple TV offers universal voice search across third-party apps (as does the Roku 4), though in my experience Apple’s results are hit or miss. It will be interesting to see if Amazon’s new universal voice search is better than Apple’s or just more of the same.