Amazon Fire TV gets new Netflix and HBO Features, Extended Voice Commands for Alexa

Amazon claims that Fire TV is the “#1 selling streaming media player in the US across all retailers.” Unfortunately, since the company doesn’t actually reveal their product sales, we can only take their word for it. Apple TV is fourth, by the way.

In a recent announcement, Amazon says that it will send out an “over-the-air software update” that will give Fire TV and Fire TV Stick devices new capabilities. The update includes featuring hit shows from Netflix and HBO Now on the home screen so you can go to your favorite shows from right there.


Also included in the update is a significant extension of Alexa’s capability. Alexa is Amazon’s virtual assistant that runs on artificial intelligence technologies that the company originally developed to put on their Echo devices. It has been available on Fire TV devices since the OS 5.0 version update that was first released last year in June. Fire OS is based on Android’s 5.0 Lollipop mobile operating system.

However, Alexa works on all Fire devices with OS 2.0 or higher so even if you have an older model you can still use Alexa. But we recommend that you upgrade to the latest operating system to take full advantage of the Fire’s capabilities. In case you haven’t set up Alexa yet on your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, you can go here and download it from the Amazon App Store. Alexa now allows you to search in about 75 different apps using voice commands. For example, you can get sports highlights by saying “Hey Alexa, give me a sports update”, and even control the video app by saying something like “Hey Alexa, rewind 20 seconds.”

There are several voice commands you can use with Alexa. For a full list, go to the settings menu, then go to Applications > Alexa > Things to Try.

Amazon’s entry into streaming devices signals a major shift from traditional cable or satellite TV because it leverages the power of the internet. With internet speeds on the increase, services like AT&T GigaPower, ComCast GigaBit and even Google Fiber now offer fiber-to-the-premises (also called fiber-to-the-home) with speeds approaching 1Gbps, which allow you to download a full-length HD movie in just a few seconds.

Today there are several streaming device options that you can choose from, including Google Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku and the gamer-centric NVIDIA Shield Android TV. Video streaming is getting cheaper by the year because data costs are coming down. That price decline is being driven by increased video consumption over the past few years.

As mobile carriers and ISPs keep competing in a very tight market, they are often forced to offer bigger and better discounts to draw customers away from the competition. And the beneficiaries of that price battle is the average consumer – that’s people us.

As data volumes grow even more, we’ll see rock-bottom pricing on the fastest internet speeds possible, and it will make more sense to watch TV by streaming it than paying your satellite dish or cable company a lot of money for programming that most of us don’t even watch.

The TV landscape is evolving fast, and companies like Amazon, Google and Apple are at the forefront of that evolution, giving us better prices and higher quality with each update. The sooner you jump on the bandwagon, the sooner you can start paying only for what you want to watch, nothing more.

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