TiVo announces Alexa support for set-top boxes

TiVo announces Alexa support for set-top boxes
Digital video recorder TiVo will soon support Amazon Alexa voice control to let users change channels, adjust volumes and even skip commercials with voice commands.

The firmware update will become available on June 1, and may be applied to TiVo Premiere, TiVo Roamio, TiVo Bolt as well as the TiVo Bolt Vox. Users will be able to access the new feature with Amazon Echo speakers or the Alexa app.

Alexa will recognize playback commands like “pause,” “play,” “fast-forward” and “rewind,” and can also change channels with commands like “Alexa, go to Fox” and “Alexa, watch NBC.” In addition, Alexa can open apps when it hears commands like “Alexa, open Netflix”

Users can even skip commercials for SkipMode-enabled shows (“Alexa, skip commercials”) or quickly jump back eight seconds (“Alexa, go back”).

“With far-field voice control, life becomes more untethered for our customers,” said Andrew Heymann, TiVo’s director of product management. “They can continue to enjoy watching their favorite programming with TiVo’s cool features even when they’re preparing dinner and their hands are too dirty to use the remote, or when they’re exercising, and they don’t have access to their remote.”

Alexa’s capability is not as robust as that of TiVo’s own voice-controlled remote, which allows users to search for content and schedule recording. The new Alexa skill can’t perform these tasks. The remote is sold separately for US$39.

“We want to continue to invest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and far-field experiences with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home, which we have already started working on,” Heymann added.

The Alexa integration arrived on the heels of Amazon’s update of Video Skills API, which supports DVR recording on TiVo, DirecTV, Dish and Verizon devices.

Big players have introduced TV voice control as well. Apple TV takes commands from Siri, while Amazon’s Fire TV Stick accepts Alexa commands, and Google Assistant can play YouTube, TV shows and movies on Chromecast devices.

Dish Network announced last year that its customers who own Hopper cable boxes or Walley satellite receivers would be able to watch TV channels or skip old commercials via Alexa.

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