Amazon’s Fire TV Gets YouTube 4K Streams, Better Voice Integration

Amazon announced an update for its Fire TV streaming devices Tuesday that adds better integration of its Alexa voice assistant as well as better-looking YouTube videos, thanks to the addition of YouTube 4K content.

The update, which will come to Fire TV streaming boxes and Fire TV sticks in the next few weeks, adds a number of additional voice control features tailored for TV viewing. Consumers will be able to launch streaming apps like HBO or Hulu with voice commands, as well as launch playback of streams from Amazon Video with their voice as well, simply by saying things like “watch ‘Transparent.'”

Direct playback of shows will also work for any show or movie available through add-on subscriptions for Amazon Video. Amazon started adding premium video services like Showtime, Starz and Acorn TV as optional add-ons to Prime Video in December.

In addition to media playback, the update also brings some other Alexa features to Fire TVs. Users can for example now use voice search to find nearby restaurants or movies playing in their neighborhood theater — something that was previously available on Amazon’s Echo loudspeaker, but not the Fire TV.

Finally, Amazon Fire TVs also now are able to play YouTube 4K content in addition to 4K videos from Amazon Video and Netflix.

The updates show that Amazon is clearly invested in its Fire TV platform, and for good reasons: Fire TV sticks regularly top the website’s Electronics sale charts, especially since Amazon stopped selling Apple TV and Chromecast last October. Amazon hasn’t revealed how many Fire TVs it has sold, but the company said Tuesday that the Fire TV stick has now amassed more than 100,000 reviews on its website.

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