Fire TV Cube gains a one-way intercom feature called ‘Alexa Announcements’

Fire TV Cube owners can now use their media streaming device to broadcast announcements around the home, similar to a one-way intercom. Amazon says it’s launching a feature called “Alexa Announcements,” which allows customers to speak to Alexa on the Fire TV Cube, then have their message announced in their own voice to all other […]

Fire TV Cube owners can now use their media streaming device to broadcast announcements around the home, similar to a one-way intercom. Amazon says it’s launching a feature called “Alexa Announcements,” which allows customers to speak to Alexa on the Fire TV Cube, then have their message announced in their own voice to all other Alexa-enabled devices in their household.

For example, you could announce that “the movie is about to start,” or say “Alexa, tell everyone that dinner is ready,” and have the message sent to your Echo devices or other compatible Alexa-enabled devices registered to your Amazon account.

To issue your broadcast, you preface it by saying either “Alexa, announce…,” “Alexa tell everyone…,” or “Alexa broadcast…”, Amazon notes.

In addition to being able to send out announcements yourself, the Fire TV Cube starting this month will also support announcements that are broadcast from select smart home devices – specifically, those where the doorbell is ringing or motion is detected.

In this case, Alexa will announce things like “motion detected at the front door” or “someone is at the front door,” and you can respond by saying “Alexa, show me the front door” to see your camera feed displayed on your TV.

You can customize which smart home announcements you’d like to see through the new Alexa Announcements section in the Alexa app.

Amazon didn’t say if or when the feature would come to other Fire TV devices.

However, this is not the first time the Fire TV Cube has been updated with a feature its other media players others don’t have.

In October, the Fire TV Cube was updated with a feature that allows you to use Alexa to navigate inside apps like Netflix and Hulu, which is especially helpful for accessibility purposes. It aids those with limited dexterity in their hands and fingers by allowing them to navigate by voice instead of pushing buttons. But it can also help if you’ve just misplaced the remote.

The Alexa Announcements feature is rolling out now to all Fire TV Cube customers in the U.S.

You can now use Alexa to move around inside apps like Netflix and Hulu on Fire TV Cube

Amazon is making it easier to use Alexa to do more than launch apps and streaming services on Fire TV devices, but to also navigate once inside them. The company confirmed it quietly launched an update specifically for Fire TV Cube devices that allows device owners to use Alexa instead of a remote control for […]

Amazon is making it easier to use Alexa to do more than launch apps and streaming services on Fire TV devices, but to also navigate once inside them. The company confirmed it quietly launched an update specifically for Fire TV Cube devices that allows device owners to use Alexa instead of a remote control for doing things like making profile selections, moving up and down or left and right, as well as selecting items.

In other words, Fire TV Cube owners can now use Alexa to navigate their Fire TV, with no remote control required.

The feature began its rollout a few weeks ago, the company told TechCrunch, but reached all Fire TV Cube devices around a week ago. AFTVNews was the first spot the new navigation option in the wild. 

According to Amazon, the decision to enable Alexa to take place of a remote control was based on customer feedback.

“We got a deeper understanding that customers want the ability to use their voice to select, browse and navigate through their favorite apps, just like they can on the Fire TV home screen,” a spokesperson said.

To use the feature inside an app, you can say things like “Alexa, go up,” “Alexa, move right,” or “Alexa, scroll down,” then pick what you want to watch by saying “Alexa, select” (or “select this” or “select that.”)

“Think of it like a d-pad for you voice,” the spokesperson added.

The voice navigation is already supported across a range of apps, including Hulu, Netflix, ESPN, HBO Go, HBO Now, FOX Now, FXNow, ABC, FilmStruck, Boomerang, Tubi TV, Red Bull TV, Cartoon Network, Hallmark Movies Now, DramaFever, The CW, and CW Seed, with more being added regularly.

While it could be a bit awkward to use Alexa to browse through many screens of content – the way you do when in search of something to watch – if you’re just moving down a couple of rows to resume a show on Netflix, for example, it’s less of a bother.

The feature could also be useful from an accessibility standpoint, as it provides a way to navigate through the Fire TV interface without having to grip a remote and use your fingers and/or thumb to press buttons. And it could help users with low vision, who have trouble seeing the correct buttons on the remote.

Fire TV Cube hands-free navigation demo, courtesy AFTVnews on YouTube

Unfortunately, the new voice navigation is a Fire TV Cube-only feature for now. The feature was enabled on Fire TV devices over the past few weeks, but a software update began to roll out on October 19 which includes an explanation to end users, so they’re aware of the new functionality. Amazon didn’t say if or when it would arrive on other Fire TV platforms.