Customers in the U.S. with Amazon’s Echo speaker and Fire TV are in luck: A new update now allows users to connect their Echo devices to their Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Edition smart TVs.
According to Mashable, this means you can issue commands to your Fire TV without using the Fire TV voice-enabled remote. Instead, once pairing the Echo device to the Fire TV device, you can simply speak commands such as “Alexa, show me a romantic comedy” and “Alexa, open Hulu” within listening distance of the Echo device to control your TV.
In addition, those with Fire TV Edition smart TVs (Element and Westinghouse smart TVs with embedded Fire TV systems) can control channels and pause playback when connected to an HD antenna. The feature also allows users to tell their Fire TV Edition smart TV things such as “Alexa, tune to NBC,” “Alexa, switch to HDMI one,” or “Alexa, turn on Fire TV.”
The update rolled out Tuesday, but because it’s an over-the-air update, some Fire TV Edition smart TVs may not get the update immediately, but will see it in the next few days.
In a recent test of voice-control systems for streaming media devices, Mashable noted some of the deficiencies still apparent in searching for content using voice-control remotes, but did reveal that Fire TV performed the best. The addition of Echo functionality to Fire TV will significantly improve the smart home experience for those already using the Echo and Fire TV separately.
This is just one way Amazon is boosting Echo’s capabilities for its users. It’s been reported that the company is working on improving the Echo in an effort to steal some of Apple’s thunder with the HomePod, which is coming out later this year. Some of the improvements will include a new design with rounded edges and a so-called cloth-like covering instead of the plastic encasement on the Echo today. It’s also improving the sound of the speaker and microphone technology.