The Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are Amazon's solution to your TV smart needs. Both devices provide the user with a fairly affordable solution to smartening up a TV and provide access to various apps including Netflix, Hulu and of course, Amazon's own Instant Video service, which is lumped in with a Prime membership. While the Fire TV is the more advanced solution, the Fire TV Stick provides a surprisingly similar level of functionality and at a fraction of the price of the Fire TV. In fact, its price largely puts it on par with Google's Chromecast.
If you do happen to own either of these Amazon devices, it now looks like they are getting some additional improvements by way of a new update. Amazon announced the update today and with the update comes improvements to the universal search, recommendations and Alexa integration. In terms of the universal search, Amazon notes that the ability to use the advanced search feature has now been expanded to include more than 75 apps and channels. Meaning after updating, users can expect a fairly big improvement to the number of apps and channels which can now be searched using voice commands. The announcement also details that search results will now show multiple viewing options for content which is available through different apps or through different ways to consume – i.e., stream, rent or purchase.
In terms of the recommendations, Amazon notes that with the latest update, custom rows will now provide a much greater level of recommended content with the likes of Netflix and HBO content now showing up as recommended (presumably based on your viewing habits) from the Fire TV main page. While in terms of the Alexa functionality, the first notable feature is that when used with Amazon Video, Alexa will now be able to understand and provide very specific rewind and fast forward requests. As Amazon notes, you can simply say "skip ahead 2 minutes" or "rewind 30 seconds" and Alexa will be able to comply with the requests. In addition, Alexa will also now be able to provide sports updates for sports and games directly relative to your interests or favorite teams. Although you will have to tell the system what your favorite teams are by heading to the Settings menu within the Alexa app or through a browser on any other device.
As mentioned, these new features are now said to be heading out to devices, although Amazon has not provided an exact time-frame of delivery. Amazon has said that the update will come packaged along with an over-the-air update and so Fire TV or Fire TV Stick owners will likely see the update arriving in the next few hours or days.