Can Alexa change TV channels?

Can Alexa change TV channels

As we move towards more flexible remote commands, technology innovators have been quick with their response. I mean, who would contest the efficiency of Alexa from simple Googling to music streaming and whatnot. Because of this efficiency, Amazon is releasing new capabilities for Alexa, their digital brain. Perhaps you have been wondering if Alexa can change TV channels. Well, shout-out to all those who frequently misplace remote controls and those who like to explore movies and series on movie streaming apps because yes, Alexa can change TV channels now and this post is for you.

FAQs on Alexa’s channel change capability

I get it. Alexa became more perfect in your eyes. But before you could finalize that judgment, you must first understand both the expanded capabilities and of course some limitations of the new and improved Alexa through the following FAQs.

Can Alexa narrow down and pick movies from search tabs 02
Photo by: Mobil Yaşam

Can Alexa change TV channels on all TV types?

The answer is no. Alexa can only change TV channels of Smart TVs but even then, it could not be applicable to all types of Smart TVs. Alexa, though Amazon’s exclusive lineup of speakers (we are talking of smart speakers here) could only control the following models of smart TVs through voice command: Echo, Echo Show, and Echo Dot, all Fire TV devices, 2017 Sony 4K HDR Android TVs, and selected models of BroadLink, Logitech Harmony, 2016 Sony 4K HDR Android TVs.

Is this new Alexa capability only does channel changing?

The good news is, as long as your Smart TV model is compatible with Alexa’s new capability, it could do more than just change your TV channels. For starters, you can now ask Alexa to turn the TV on and off, adjust the volume, change movie or series from Netflix or Amazon Prime, and even adjust the overall settings through voice command.

How does this Alexa capability work?

This is how you set up Alexa’s channel changing capability. First, you have to install or check the app called Smart TV remote on your Android phone. After that, set-up this app in line with your Smart TV so that Alexa can change TV channels through voice command. Just two steps and voila, you can now control your Smart TV through your voice.

Do I need a separate device so that Alexa can change TV channels right after installation? 

This is a pretty valid question and unfortunately, the answer is yes. Alexa may ensure hands-free voice commands but it still needs a separate compatible device that will pick up these voice commands. With these, you will be needing Echo speakers, Sonos Beam soundbar, or Fire TV Cube. If you have these, voice commands will be prompted as soon as you hold the microphone button at the top of the Alexa remote.

Is it true that you could still use Alexa for traditional TV services like satellite or cable?

If you are using Fire TV Cube, traditional satellite or cable services for TV could work but the set-up includes more than just two steps of course. You will need to go to the table settings and then press the equipment control button. After this, head to manage equipment, and then add equipment and lastly, select the name of the cable or satellite.

Can Alexa narrow down and pick movies from search tabs
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Is there special voice prompts for traditional TV services?

As a matter of fact, yes, but it involves mentioning the name of the cable or satellite at the end of each voice prompt. For example, instead of directly saying “Alexa watch Fox News”, you would say, “Alexa watch Fox News on (name of satellite or cable).”

Can Alexa change TV channels of cable-run TV boxes?

Since it could support certain TV services, Alexa could extend to TV boxes. As a matter of fact, here are some of the cable-run TV boxes it could support: Verizon Fios, Frontier, TiVo, Direct TV, Optic Hub, and Dish Network. You can minimize Alexa’s hands-free functions such as playback, changing channels, searching for show and movie titles, pause, and play.

My TV box is on the list, how will I connect it to Alexa?

The first thing to do here is to install the Alexa app on the TV and then press the menu button and then head to the Music, Video, and Books tab. On the list, you will choose your provider and then press enables skill. There will be on-screen instructions to successfully start it to work.

How will my voice commands go if I successfully install Alexa on my TV box?

This one is not complicated at all. In registering Alexa to the TV box, you need to add the name of the TV box provider in making your very first voice command (example, “Alexa, pause TiVo). You might think that it’s taxing to say this and that every now and then but the good news is that, you will only have to do this once you register and once an hour in your succeeding uses.

What specific apps can I play or change channels using Alexa?

One thing to note is that Alexa has limitations when it comes to the apps that it could play using voice commands so you have to know which ones are compatible with it. For movie streaming apps, you are fortunate because it could play or change movies with Netflix, Hulu, and of course Amazon Prime. It also supports Fox News, NBC, CBS, Sony Crackle, ESPN, STARZ Play, Playstation Vue, and Showtime. It might not support all apps but it sure does have a comprehensive set that it could work with.

How specific should voice commands be for me to test Alexa’s channel changing capacity?

This is a very understandable question especially during the phase of setting the device up. To avoid future tech clashes with Alexa, you have to be very specific and audible when using voice commands. But what do we mean by being specific? For example, you would not say “Alexa, watch How I Met Your Mother” but “Alexa, watch How I Met Your Mother Season 8 on Netflix.” That is the kind of specific that Alexa wants for you to appreciate its efficiency.

Can Alexa narrow down and pick movies from search tabs?

Sure, Alexa can search movies from the search tab but you will still need a regular remote to scroll through the results and you have to take note that some movie streaming apps do not support a search tab at all.

What other hands-free prompts could Alexa do?

Aside from changing channels or movies in streaming apps, you could also command Alexa to pause or play the movie. Other than this you could ask Alexa to rewind or fast forward a scene or movie but you have to indicate the number of minutes you wish to rewind or fast forward. You can also depend on Alexa for skipping to the next episode but unfortunately, Alexa cannot skip to previous episodes.

Why won’t Alexa change channels or turn my TV on?

If you are having problems with Alexa’s new capability even if you are sure that your Smart TV model is compatible with it, here are the measures that you could immediately do. First, you may need to disconnect all the other devices that are connected with your home router except of course the TV and the Alexa compatible speakers to reduce network override. Second, you could also check the firewall settings of your router. Check if ports 5228-5230 are open. Third, make sure that the HDMI-CEC feature is enabled in your Smart TV which you will usually find in the advanced settings.

Is there a chance for this Alexa capability to control other entertainment devices in the future?

Another good news on the block is that Amazon just released its official announcement that developers are now allowed to set-up this Alexa control for your other entertainment devices such as phone, laptop, and more. As of the moment, the following brands have expressed their interest in this new Alexa control: LG, Denon, Polk Audio, and Crestron.

Are there visuals that you could recommend that would teach me all of these?

If you think that video tutorials and infographics will help you better in understanding this new capability of Alexa, you could watch the following:

  •  Installation and changing channels using Alexa on Echo by Tampatec
  •   How to use Alexa in Smart TV and TV boxes by AT&T

Conclusion

To conclude, Alexa’s channel changing capability is pretty comprehensive and is applicable to the most used movie streaming apps at the moment. So to answer the question of an Alexa change TV channels, it is a resounding yes. Certain restrictions on Smart TV models and the need for separate devices (or speakers) should be considered, though, at the very least, so that you could enjoy a hands-free voice command using Alexa. But overall, it is a good addition to the things Alexa could already activate and do and I think that with this, the initial project of Alexa, the digital brain, to create a Smart Home is all the more achieved.

Image source: BipHoo Company

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Levi Alston
I write dozens of helpful informational articles based on topics that I have identified again and again throughout my research and work experience. I am here to help you find the right smart speaker.

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