Amazon Brings Alexa Routines and Hindi to Fire TV
Amazon Fire TVs can now run Alexa Routines, the combination of commands Alexa carries out from a single command, as well as converse in Hindi with customers in India. The new features continue Amazon’s work integrating the voice assistant with its smart TV platform this year, transforming them into almost a new kind of Echo Show smart displays.
Alexa voice commands have been part of the Fire TV platform for a few years, controllable through set-top boxes, remote controls, or Alexa-enabled smart speakers. The voice assistant only accepted one command at a time until now, however. Incorporating Alexa Routines opens up a lot of new options for Fire TV owners. A single command could start a show, turn off smart lights and set an alarm for the morning, or turn off the TV, tell you the weather, and start a music playlist of your choice.
“Sure, you can ask Alexa to pause your show and then turn on your smart lights, or rustle around to find your remote and get up to find your light switch,” Amazon explained in a blog post, “But, starting today Amazon customers around the world can now include Fire TV commands with their Alexa Routines — taking a bunch of things you can do with Alexa and your smart home, and bundling them together seamlessly.”
Alexa Routines originally only offered a few abilities provided by Amazon before adding third-party skills near the end of 2019. Earlier this month, Amazon broadened the options for Routines enormously by allowing users to write custom commands for them directly into the Alexa app. With Fire TV as part of that Alexa ecosystem, the custom commands activating the Routines can include playing a specific show or movie, opening a streaming service, or adjusting the volume of the TV. These homebrewed Routines are also sharable, and you can send your favorite TV Routine to friends attached to a link or QR code.
Though the Routines are limited to Fire TVs in the U.S. for now, there will be a lot more conversation with Alexa on the smart televisions with the inclusion of Hindi as a language option in India. Though the voice assistant has been able to speak in Hindi via Echo smart speakers since last year, Fire TV owners had to use English when accessing the voice assistant on the smart television platform until this update. Users who change the language choice in their settings to Hindi will not only hear Alexa speak the language; they will also see it replace English as the text on the screen.
Amazon’s decision to expand Hindi access to Alexa fits with the company’s larger strategy in the country. It’s why Amazon decided to hire Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan to be a celebrity voice for Alexa in Hindi beginning next year. Bachchan will be the first celebrity Alexa voice in India and the first in Hindi. Meanwhile, Indian shoppers can use Alexa to browse the Amazon store app and ask the voice assistant to make utility bill payments. The smart TV language expansion is part and parcel of Amazon’s drive toward making Alexa more dominant in India.