Roku announced Tuesday that Roku media streaming adapters and Roku TVs can now be set up to work with Amazon Alexa-enabled smart speakers, like the Echo, Dot and other Alexa-enabled devices.

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The Roku streaming devices will be enabled for Alexa through a new Alexa Skill, that can be activated on supported devices.Compatible Roku devices will be running Roku OS 8.1 or greater and can be set up by Roku users by simply opening the Alexa app, going to settings and selecting TV & Video. Next, enable the Roku skill and link an account.

Roku said the addition of the new voice control compatibility will give Roku users more flexibility when choosing which voice assistant they prefer to use to control their device (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Roku’s voice assistant).

Many Roku devices released in recent years, and the Roku Player mobile device app for mobile phones and tablets, have allowed voice control using Roku’s own platform.

Many of the recent step-up Roku streaming adapters and Roku TVs have a mic pickup built into the remote control. However, Alexa speach recognition and engagement has typically been smooter and more robust than the Roku system.

With Alexa capability, Roku streaming players and Roku TV owners in the U.S. will be able to control Roku devices using Alexa.

Roku said “the new voice control compatibility further expands the flexibility and choice for how consumers control their Roku devices and get to their entertainment quickly.”

“Consumers often have multiple voice ecosystems in their homes. By allowing our customers to choose Alexa, in addition to Roku voice search and controls, and other popular voice assistants; we are strengthening the value Roku offers as a neutral platform in home entertainment,” stated Ilya Asnis, senior vice president of Roku OS at Roku. “Roku customers can get to the entertainment they love faster so they can enjoy more of it.”

Roku users with Alexa-enabled devices are now able to use the Alexa skill to speak commands like: pause a show, launch a streaming channel and search for entertainment to have that action performed automatically. Roku said examples of common demands expected to be popular include, saying things like, “Alexa, find comedies on Roku”, “Alexa, pause Roku” or “Alexa, open Hulu on Roku.”

Additionally, Roku TV users can turn on the TV, change the volume, mute the TV, switch inputs and change channels if there is an OTA antenna connected by saying, “Alexa, turn on Roku” or “Alexa, turn up the volume on Roku.”

Roku is one of the most popular streaming media devices or smart TV platforms in the market, largely due to its ease of use, simple and direct app layout, and access to hundreds of thousands of streaming titles from hunderes of different streaming app partners.

In related news, Roku said it is currently rolling out an update to The Roku Channel (TRC) where customers can browse, trial and subscribe to Premium Subscriptions from popular services such as EPIX, Showtime and STARZ. Free content is also offered through TRC under the the “Featured Free” selection which offers direct links to free in-season episodes from top network shows.


By Greg Tarr


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