TiVo announced today that its newest lineup of set-top DVRs, including Series 4 (TiVo Premiere), Series 5 (TiVo Roamio), and Series 6 (TiVo Bolt) devices as well as the TiVo Bolt Vox, will gain support for Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant by June 1. Once the new firmware arrives, TiVo subscribers with the Alexa app or an Amazon Echo smart speaker will be able to change channels, adjust television and A/V receiver volume, and more, with their voice.
The new TiVo Alexa skill will recognize playback commands such as “pause,” “play,” “fast-forward,” and “rewind,” in addition to channel-switching shortcuts like “Alexa, go to ABC” and “Alexa, watch NBC.” It will also support app launching — users will be able to open Netflix by saying “Alexa, open Netflix,” for example — and platform-specific TiVo features such as commercial skipping and eight-second rewind. In March, Alexa began supporting
The new voice controls seem to at least partially cannibalize TiVo’s voice-enabled Vox remote, which launched alongside the TiVo Bolt Vox and Mini Vox last fall but is sold separately for $39. Vox adds voice functionality to the TiVo Bolt, Roamio, and Mini, including playback controls; the ability to search for movies and television shows across live TV, DVR, video-on-demand, and streaming services; and quick access to recorded content. The Alexa skill may not have as many features, but existing Amazon Echo device owners will now be less likely to purchase the remote.
“With far-field voice control, life becomes more untethered for our customers,” Andrew Heymann, TiVo’s director of product management, said in a statement. “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.”
TiVo’s improved Alexa experience comes on the heels of Amazon’s Video Skills API, which was updated in March to support DVR recording on TiVo, DirecTV, Dish, and Verizon devices. Separately, at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, TiVo announced plans to add smart home integration via Alexa, the Google Assistant, and web-based interconnectivity service IFTTT.
TiVo is far from the only set-top manufacturer to offer voice controls. Support for Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, is one of Apple TV’s headlining features. Amazon rolled out playback, search, and custom Alexa voice commands for the Fire TV Stick in August. And shortly after, in October, Google launched voice commands for Google Home and the Google Assistant that allow users to play YouTube videos, TV shows, and movies on nearby Chromecast devices.