Amazon today announced updates to Alexa’s Video Skills API, which will soon allow users of TiVo, DirectTV, DISH, and Verizon television services to record their favorite shows using their voice on an Alexa-enabled device. This means a user will be able to say “Alexa, record the Warriors game” to start a DVR recording.
The update announced today for the API that gives Alexa control of video content will let customers navigate to often-used destinations, like a show guide, home screen, or DVR menu. Users will also be able to ask for TV apps like Prime Video by name or say “Alexa, pause” to stop play.
Tech giants making AI assistants are vying for people’s attention on many fronts. Amazon wants to enter your workplace and your car, but the main battlefront today still seems to be the home, and there the company has made pitches to enter virtually every room. Amazon now has a Wand with Alexa that sticks to your fridge. One of the first arguments made in favor of an Echo Show at its debut last summer was that it can play you DIY cooking videos. When the Echo Spot debuted, it was pitched as the replacement for your alarm clock.
The fight for content control in any room with a television is another battleground, and a fairly crowded one at that.
Beyond the voice control Alexa can provide for devices from companies like TiVo, Alexa voice control for Fire TV sticks was first made available last August and can be used to play shows by title, channel, or genre. Like Alexa’s Fire TV control, Google Assistant can control Chromecast, and unlike Fire TV, it has a YouTube app. Due to a spat between Amazon and Google last year over Amazon’s refusal to sell Nest smart home devices on its marketplace, YouTube access for Fire TV was revoked.
For Samsung, Bixby control is coming to its Smart TVs later this year, while Microsoft brought Cortana to the Xbox One dashboard in 2016. Xfinity introduced voice control for its remote controls in 2015. Some Xfinity DVR scheduling abilities were recently lost due to a lost 2017 court battle with TiVo parent company Rovi Corp.