Nvidia Shield with Alexa FI

Nvidia Shield Now Supports Alexa, If You Can Get it to Work

Image credit: Nvidia

Nvidia Shield, the media streaming box, has added Amazon Alexa support to complement its Google Assistant integration just in time for the holiday shopping season. The company first started offering Google Assistant integration in September 2017. Last month, new Google Home commands were added and first-hand testing confirms they work well. The Alexa integration is an attempt to bring feature parity for Amazon Echo owners using Shield. In, theory this is true, but in practice, it seems many users are having trouble making it work. The announced Alexa features include:

  • Getting Started
    “Alexa, turn on SHIELD.”
    “Alexa, turn off SHIELD.”
  • Controlling The Volume
    “Alexa, set volume to 80 percent on SHIELD.”
  • Opening Entertainment apps
    “Alexa, open Prime Video (on SHIELD).”
    “Alexa, open HBO NOW (on SHIELD).”
  • Using Media Controls
    “Alexa, pause (on SHIELD).”
    “Alexa, play (on SHIELD).”
    “Alexa, next (on SHIELD).”
    “Alexa, previous (on SHIELD).”
    “Alexa, fast-forward ten minutes (on SHIELD).”
  • Navigating SHIELD
    “Alexa, go to settings (on SHIELD).”
    “Alexa, go home (on SHIELD).”
    “Alexa, go to control settings (on SHIELD).”

Many Users Face Challenges

Using voice to control Shield can indeed be helpful. Turning the device off and on has limited utility but searching for media on the device and controlling playback by voice both improve the experience. The problem today is that many Alexa users are struggling to make it work. A full 48% of reviews in the Alexa skill store are of the 1-star variety with most users justifying the rating due to a poor onboarding experience. A common complaint is that the auto-discovery of the Shield device in the Alexa app is not working despite following the detailed set-up and account linking instructions. So, it’s not just a difficult onboarding, it is half of the users are not able to link Shield and Alexa.

This problem is compounded by the fact that the Nvidia support wasn’t initially briefed on the feature launch. I had to send them a link to the media release before the support representative understood that it was something he should help troubleshoot. But, it didn’t matter since no one in support had any idea how to onboard Alexa, much less troubleshoot it. They promised that someone would follow up by email to help when they learned more. Several emails have come over the past five days but they have typically said they are working on the problem. To be fair, it appears a minority of users had no problem with the onboarding process so results may vary.

Media Players Need Voice

Shield is based on Android so that likely made the Google Assistant integration easier and more reliable. However, with Alexa commanding over 60% of the U.S. smart speaker market and leading in the U.K. and Germany, Nvidia certainly didn’t want to lose out to competitors because it lacked support for the most popular smart speakers. The fact is that consumers will soon be viewing voice assistant integration for media players as a must-have feature similar to wireless speakers. Nvidia has a solid integration with Google Assistant but still has to work out some issues with Alexa. I am sure the Nvidia device sales team hopes this is all resolved before Black Friday. You can learn more here.



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