With the smart home revolution in full gear, voice controlling your appliances with a virtual assistant is the hottest thing in tech.
Remember, years ago, we all wanted to control everything with our phones and apps. Now, we want to control everything with our phones and our voices.
Now, add this streaming gadget to the impressive list of appliances that the industry-leading smart speaker -- the Amazon Echo -- can control.
Bonus: Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are always listening so naturally, they know if your relationship is on the rocks. In this episode of Consumer Tech Update, Kim looks at the AI behind virtual assistants and how this technology can predict relationships and match people to his or her perfect partner.
New Alexa skill for Roku owners
Finally, Roku owners can now voice-control their streaming gadgets and Roku-powered TVs with Alexa.
Remember, Google Assistant/Google Home already had this capability since last year, so this is a nice treat for Amazon Echo owners. Additionally, a number of Roku gadgets also have their own voice-search and control built in.
Naturally, Alexa can already control Fire TV streaming gadgets, so this partnership is a bit surprising. I think it's more of a competitive move against Google, so it actually makes sense if you think about it. Although it's not perfect, if you have Roku gadgets in the house, the Alexa Roku skill is definitely worth trying.
How to enable the Alexa Roku Skill
Do you want to try this out? Here's how you activate it.
First, make sure your Roku gadget is updated to the latest software (at least version 8.2). Roku gadgets typically install the latest updates automatically but you can always manually force a system update.
Next, here's how you enable the Roku skill and link your Roku device:
1. Open your Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet, tap the menu icon (the three horizontal lines in the upper left corner) then tap "Skills & Games."
2. Here, you can browse or search for all the available Alexa skills, in this case, search for "Roku." Then select the top result.
3. Tap on the Roku skill, then select "Enable to Use." On the next screen, you will have to link your Roku account by signing in.
4. After signing in to your Roku account, tap "Accept and Continue" then select the Roku device you want to control with Alexa (you can only select one). Next, tap "Continue to the Alexa app."
5. Tap Done. Alexa will now look for your Roku device (takes around 20 seconds). On the next screen, select it again then tap "Continue" then tap the Alexa-enabled gadgets you want to voice control your Roku with.
Unfortunately, even with multiple Alexa and Roku gadgets in your home, you can only link one Roku device per account, so make sure you choose Alexa gadgets that are near your Roku gadget or TV. Now, tap "Link Devices" and you're set.
Note: You can also manage the Roku skill by going to your Alexa app's Settings >> TV Video.
Roku voice commands you can try
The Alexa-Roku link works exactly the same as the Google Assistant pairing. Start your command with "Alexa..." (or your selected wake word) then end it with "... on Roku.
You can open apps by saying "Alexa, launch (name of app) on Roku. (Sorry, similar to the Google Assistant, Netflix is still not supported.) You can pause, rewind, play and stop your video by saying "Alexa, (action) on Roku." And of course, you can search for content by saying "Alexa, show me (genre) on Roku."
Unfortunately, at this point, the Roku-Alexa pairing is still limited and it's not as robust as the functions of the Alexa-Fire TV link. However, if you have a Roku-powered Smart TV, your commands expand considerably:
Here are some of the other Alexa commands you can try with a Roku TV:
- "...turn on Roku TV" (Make sure you enable your Roku's Fast Start option)
- "...turn up the volume on Roku"
- "...set volume to (volume level) on Roku"
- "...mute on Roku"
- "...change to channel (channel number) on Roku"
- "...switch to (input port) on Roku"
Bonus: Did you know that you can also listen to your favorite Komando podcasts by just asking Alexa? Tap or click here to learn how.
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