Amazon recently released a new app to the Google Play Store, called “Amazon Alexa Music, Cameras, & TV Control.”
As the name suggests, the app is designed to make it easier for users to control their music, cameras and TV through voice commands given to Alexa. What's interesting here, is the confirmation this app is for Sony Bravia TVs powered by Android TV.
In other words, with this app installed, Alexa users can command Alexa to control their Sony Android TV device in a similar way to how they do with Google Assistant.
Unlike Google Assistant will now largely comes built-in to most Android TV devices running on a newer version of Android TV, those looking to take advantage of this feature will need to ensure they have a separate device equipped with Alexa. For example, an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.
With an Alexa-device in proximity and the account credentials shared between the Alexa device and the TV, users can issue commands to Alexa to turn the TV on or off, change channels, adjust the volume, switch inputs, and so on.
Although this is a new app, moves like this have been expected. Amazon and Google have not been on the best of terms for quite some time due to them competing on many different aspects, including the battle to be your home and TV platform of choice. This led to things getting even worse over the last couple of years with both seemingly reciprocating the removal of support for various apps and services on the other’s platforms.
However, the sour relationship between the two seemed to hit a turning point when both confirmed earlier this year they plan to release some of their most used apps on each other’s platforms once again. For example, YouTube is returning to Amazon’s Fire TV platform, while Amazon's Prime Video is coming to Android TV on a platform-wide scale.
Technically, this Alexa feature is not new in the grand scheme of things as Sony Android TV devices already had access to Alexa - as does the NVIDIA SHIELD. What is certainly new though is the pushing of the app to the Google Play Store as this would seem to symbolize the path forward for Alexa and Android TV.
This has always been one of the major Amazon hurdles with Android TV as although Google and Amazon have had their issues, Amazon apps in one form or another have been available on select Android TV devices, just not actively through the Google Play Store.
For example, the Amazon Prime Video app has been readily available to NVIDIA SHIELD users for some time now. However, like what’s happening with this Alexa app, once the Prime Video app goes live on Google Play again, the experience will not only be extended to all Android TV device users, but also improved over time from the source.
The same can likely be applied to this new Alexa app as now that it is appearing in app form on the Google Play Store, it should be easier for Amazon to update more quicker in the future, and thereby bringing new features to compatible Android TV devices even faster and without the need for the device-maker to release an update itself.