LG Electronics (LG) is preparing to soon roll out support for Amazon Alexa artificial intelligence (AI) voice control to 2019 ThinQ AI televisions sold in 14 countries, including the United States, the company announced Wednesday night.

The new firmware update that will add the feature will be available for manual or automatic download and installation to the LG ThinQ AI system carried by many better-featured 2019 LG UHD TVs, including its NanoCell LED-LCD and OLED TV series.

The company said customers in North America will begin receiving the update this month, followed by Europe and Asia in the weeks to come, LG said.

The addition of Alexa voice control interoperatility will give 2019 LG ThinQ AI TV owners access to three different voice-control platforms, including Google Assistant AI that was first added to 2018 LG TVs with ThinQ AI. LG also offers its own voice-control system for various tasks in the television models.

LG said the rollout signifies that it is “delivering more choices and options.”

The Alexa app will enable users of compatible LG ThinQ AI TVs to ask questions, control smart home products, access over 90,000 Alexa Skills and many other tasks, without the need for a separate external smart speaker like an Echo or Dot, or other device. LG said its 2019 TVs also carry more advanced ThinQ AI conversation voice recognition technology that understands hundreds of voice commands to “handle requests of greater complexity than ever before.”

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LG executives at CES 2019 said the addition of Alexa control in its televisions will rely on a mic built into its Magic Remote to pick up voice commands. Furthermore, the Alexa system will be activated by a push-to-speak button control, ensuring users concerned about privacy that the system isn’t always listening.

In addition, the update will enable running Alexa Routines to link together a series of actions such as providing traffic information, reporting the weather and listing the day’s agenda items simply by saying “Alexa, start my morning,” LG said.

Other voice control functions “can also play music or audio books and take advantage of the numerous skills already available on the Alexa platform.” In addition, LG said new updates and features will be added to Alexa as Amazon improves the technology over time.

“The addition of Alexa support is another example of LG’s commitment to simplifying our customers’ lives,” said Brian Kwon, president of Mobile Communications and Home Entertainment companies at LG. “We will continue to enrich the user experience going forward with a diverse range of convenient AI services and features.”

Other planned updates for the 2019 OLED and NanoCell TVs will include the addition of Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit technologies in a mid-year update. AirPlay 2 support will let ThinQ AI TVs will be able to watch videos on the Apple TV app and other video apps as well as view photos and liusten to music on compatible LG TVs connected to an Apple device. Apple HomeKit will enable control of compatible 2019 LG TVs with ThinQ AI using Apple’s Siri voice control or the Home app, LG said.

By Greg Tarr

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