If you think that the union of voice assistants and televisions was something temporary, destined for the same fate as 3D, we have news for you. At CES 2020, Amazon detailed its growing ambitions for both Alexa, its voice assistant, and its Fire TV platform streaming of television compatible with Alexa and they are huge. This is not only the year in which a hands-free Alexa arrives as a function incorporated into major television brands, but we will also see Fire TV rise as a true competitor of the Roku TV OS among television manufacturers who want a simple way to offer the capacity of streaming without having to create the whole experience from scratch.
LG has already announced that its latest OLED and NanoCell TVs will include voice commands. However, there was a related announcement that many could overlook: these new models will be compatible with the Amazon Alexa Premium Far-Field Voice system, which means that you can leave the remote control on the coffee table (or buried between the cushions of the sof) and just ask Alexa to change the channel or put a program on streaming. Samsung and Skyworth will also announce new TV models with Alexa built in.
Amazon is using the name Fire TV Edition to refer to the version of Fire TV that manufacturers can incorporate into their products. If you watch a TV, a sound bar or any device that includes Amazon Fire TV and has not been manufactured by Amazon, then use Fire TV Edition. The platform has already had an incredible success: BestBuy has sold millions of televisions with Fire TV Edition brand Insignia and Toshiba, after announcing the products in 2018. Now Amazon plans to bring Fire TV Edition to more than 150 device models in 10 passes before that 2020 ends.
Anker launched the first soundbar with Fire TV, the Anker Nebula Soundbar, in 2019. TCL has also joined the smart soundbar party: its Alto 8+ SoundbarFire TV Edition is already on sale in the United States and Canada According to Amazon, Polk Audio is also working on a soundbar with Fire TV Edition. We can expect these sound bars with Fire TV to acquire many more skills in 2020; Amazon is expanding its capabilities, giving them compatibility with Dolby Atmos, control from third-party devices, HDMI switching and, of course, Alexa hands-free with the far-field microphones. Some of these new sound bars with Fire TV Edition may even have capabilities equal to those of Amazon Fire TV Cube.
Fire TV Edition also reach more decoders. With Fire TV Edition for Operators, Amazon will make it easier for cable and satellite television companies to offer set-top boxes that work with the Fire TV platform. This could represent a great boost for these companies in their attempt to prevent their customers from finishing cutting the cord completely.
In addition, Amazon wants to take Fire TV to the street: its Fire TV Edition for Auto take the platform of streaming to car entertainment systems. BMW and Fiat Chrysler Automotive will be the first companies that will incorporate Fire TV Edition in their vehicles. The platform take advantage of Alexa hands-free voice commands, and can connect to content from streaming through the car's LTE wifi or with the Wi-Fi zone of a smart phone. We are not sure how BMW and Fiat Chrysler will do to prevent these new entertainment options from becoming another distraction for drivers, although, on the other hand, being closer and closer to a future of autonomous driving, that might not be a Such a big problem in about five years.