Amazon introduces new features and functionality to its lineup of Fire TV streaming devices as well as the recently released Fire TV Omni and 4-Series televisions. Amazon showcases a pile of new tricks which has at the top a Smart Home Dashboard quite similar to what’s already available on the company’s Fire tablets and Echo Show smart displays.
The Smart Home Dashboard is currently only available in the U.S and Canada. The dashboard offers quick access and on / off toggles for connected lights, plugs, and switches that have been linked to your Alexa system. Smart cameras get their own row in the dashboard, complete with a thumbnail of their perspective — though not a live view until you actually click into them. Before now, users could only control their smart home gadgets through voice commands in the Fire TV’s Alexa Voice Remote, but for some reason, it’s always nicer for an actual interface to appear on the screen. Samsung already offers a TV dashboard for its SmartThings platform, the same goes for Apple TV, which has the resemblance to one via Control Center. Amazon has revealed that additional features like smart home groups and smart thermostats will ultimately be added to items on the dashboard by 2022.
Amazon has also announced it is adding what it’s calling an Alexa Shortcut Panel that appears on-screen when the Alexa button is pressed on the remote. This will give users a wider range of “smart home controls, weather, news, and your video library.” Amazon has disclosed that this feature will be “broadly” rolled out across Fire TV hardware starting in the U.S.
Amazon is committing to expanding the ability to use Echo speakers, something just like the Echo Studio as speakers, that feature is also coming to the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Fire TV Omni / 4-Series. The company is literally beefing up the audio side of its Fire TV experience. Phenomenal moves that ultimately drive your smart devices to produce a smarter experience.
According to The Verge, on the TVs, Alexa Home Theater supports audio both from streaming apps and connected devices, but Amazon says the same even holds true for the Stick 4K Max so long as it’s plugged into the eARC port on your TV. Sound from other inputs like a game console will be routed through the Alexa Home Theater setup. With Fire TV Omni Series and 4-Series televisions, audio will output when streaming on Fire TV and across any compatible device that’s connected, including cable boxes, gaming consoles, and antenna sources. Fire TV Stick 4K Max can now do the same, so long as it’s plugged into your TV’s HDMI eARC port, which means you can broadcast audio to Echo speakers, even when you’re enjoying the content on inputs other than Fire TV. Find set-up instructions here.
The technology company which focuses on e-commerce is also set to deliver on its promise to deliver a feature that supports Apple’s AirPlay 2 on its Fire TV Omni and 4-Series TVs. The company reveals that the feature is also set to roll out soon. Amazon again confirms that Zoom is on its way to the Omni TVs. Owners of the first self-branded Amazon TVs will henceforth be able to plug a camera into the USB port for the purpose of videoconferencing. In the coming weeks, users will have the opportunity to place and receive Zoom meetings right from the biggest screen. But firstly users may need to download the Zoom app through Fire TV, after which you can simply attach a compatible 720p–1080p webcam through the USB port and then say, “Alexa, find Zoom” to get set up. According to Amazon, Fire TV users should expect all of these fantastic features to come to Fire TV hardware within the “coming weeks.”