Amazon began rolling out smart home dash screens and other new features for the Fire TV
Today, Amazon began rolling out new features and features for its line of Fire TV streaming devices, as well as the recently announced Fire TV Omni and Series 4 TVs.At the top of the pile is a smart home dashboard that looks similar to the Fire tablet and Echo Show smart displays the company has already introduced.
The dashboard, which is sold in the US and Canada, offers quick access and switches to lights, plugs, and switches connected to your Alexa system. Smart cameras have their row on the dashboard and have a perspective thumbnail -- but not a live view until you click on them. Previously, you could control your smart home device by voice command via the Fire TV's Alexa Voice Remote, but it's always nice to have an actual interface on the screen. Samsung provides a TV dashboard for its smart product platform, while Apple TV provides a superficial dashboard through the Control Center. Amazon says it will add additional features like smart home groups and smart thermostats to the dashboard next year.
For Alexa, Amazon has also added what it calls the Alexa Shortcut panel, which appears on the screen when you press the Alexa button on the remote. This will give you access to "smart home controls, weather, news, and video libraries."The feature will be rolled out "widely" on Fire TV hardware devices in the United States, the company said.
Amazon is also beefing up its Fire TV audio capabilities. The company is expanding the ability to use Echo speakers (if you like Echo Studio) and bringing this feature to the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Fire TV Omni / 4 series.
On TVs, Alexa Home Theater supports streaming apps and audio from connected devices, but Amazon says as long as you plug into the eARC port on your TV, so does the Stick 4, K Max.A voice from other inputs such as the game console will be delivered via Alexa home Theater Settings. For the first time, and something no other Fire TV can do:
With the Fire TV Omni series and series 4 TVS, audio will be output when streamed through the Fire TV and any connected compatible device, including cable boxes, game consoles, and antenna sources. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max can do the same thing now, just by plugging it into your TV's HDMI eARC port, which means you can play audio to your Echo speaker even as you enjoy input other than the Fire TV. The setting instructions are here.
After promising support for Apple's AirPlay 2 on its Fire TV Omni and 4 Series TVS, that feature will also be available soon -- though sadly, AirPlay integration is not yet to be found on standalone Fire TV streaming devices. Finally, Amazon reconfirmed that Zoom is about to enter the Omni TV market.
Owners of the first own-brand Amazon TV will be able to plug the camera into a USB port for video conferencing. In the next few weeks, you will be able to set up and receive Zoom meetings on the largest screen in your home. After downloading the Zoom app via Fire TV, you can set it up by simply plugging a 720P-1080p compatible camera into a USB port and saying "Alexa, find Zoom."
According to Amazon, Fire TV owners can expect all of these new features to arrive "in the coming weeks."