In case you needed another reason to go Alexa rather than Google, the media gods have got one for you. The avalanche of CES 2017 press conferences hadn’t even begun when the news came in from Dish Network. In addition to their Sling Box and their 2014 breakthrough, no-contract live-streaming cable service, SlingTV, Dish decided to take another leap forward in delivering television entertainment to their consumers — support for Amazon‘s Alexa Voice Services or AVS.
Dish users with Hopper DRV devices of any generation will be able to control them using their voice through Amazon’s Echo or Echo Dot hardware.
The significance here is that a regular, contract satellite/cable operator is allowing their consumers to use cutting edge technology that’s not locked in or locked down. While Comcast has unveiled an app-supported device, the X1 system for Xfinity, Dish is hooking up third-party tech to their extant media devices to give users more options with the devices they may already have at home.
The technology functions through the use of a “skill,” which is the AVS parlance for apps in the Echo ecosystem. Users hop into their Alexa app and turn the skill on or they vocally ask one of their Echo devices to enable it.
So why are we so excited? Ostensibly, after all, this looks, at first glance, like the sort of functionality we’ve seen on Roku, FireTV, and AppleTV devices since late 2014 — but it’s not. Amazon Echo + Hopper integration means that one doesn’t need to (1) find a remote control, (2) pick it up, and (3) hold down a button on the remote to get their TV to do something. It means keeping your gross, oily popcorn fingers off of that sweet Harmony control you’ve got or your smartphone, if you’re unfortunate enough to be using a touch screen for a remote. Most of all it means opening your mouth and asking your TV to change the channel — and that’s new — Star Trek new.
Don’t be this person. It’s 2017. Talk to your TV!
According to the Press Release, users will be able to ask the service to “go to CNN” or, more impressive, “play the Warriors game.”
This all sounds impressive but we’ll have to see it in person. If you’ve at all been following The Drill Down, Geeks of Doom’s weekly roundtable discussion on the goings on in tech, then you’ve heard us go on about how Amazon may really have something here with this Echo thing. It’s already in Triby and Amazon almost got Alexa mobile with the Pebble Core.
Aside from having to continually utter the word “Echo” or Alexa” when watching TV, we wonder if there isn’t another problem with making your voice the remote…namely the fact that nearly everyone in the living room has control of what you watch.
Let the sibling wars begin.