Fire TV Lights Up Far-Field Control

Enables users to ask Alexa-powered Echo devices to launch apps, control video playback
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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.

The integration, which complements the voice control feature in the Fire TV remote, will let users ask Alexa to do things such as play movie titles, launch apps, control playback, and find content by title, actor or genre. Amazon said the feature is tied to more than 140 apps and “channels” on Fire TV.

A user, for example, could say, “Alexa, play The Grand Tour,” and the Echo device would link that command to a Fire TV device to pull up and play the Amazon original series.

For consumers with one Fire TV device, their Echo device will pair when they ask Alexa a question that includes Fire TV. If they have more than one Fire TV device in the home, they’ll have to configure it using the Alexa app.

The additional features are also entering play as some MVPDs, including Dish Network and Layer3 TV, tack on Alexa integrations.

Amazon said users can also pair their Echo devices to a new line of integrated Fire TV-powered smart TVs. When those TVs are connected to an antenna, viewers will be able to change channels with their voice.

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Amazon said far-field control of Fire TV is available today in the U.S. on all generations of the Fire TV box and Fire TV Stick, and will be available on Fire TV Edition smart TVs “within the coming week.”

Amazon said it will soon enable users to view live video feeds from compatible smart home cameras on Fire TV devices, including products from Ring, Arlo, Nest, Ezviz, Vivint, Amcrest, Logitech and August.

“Alexa is built in the cloud and always getting smarter, and these new Fire TV features are the latest way that Alexa is making it simple for you to enjoy and control your living room entertainment,” Marc Whitten,  VP of Amazon Fire TV, said in a statement. Amazon Fire TV. “Simply ask Alexa to play your favorite show, or keep an eye on your kids’ playroom during movie night, right from the comfort of your couch.”