Roku devices now support Amazon Alexa voice controls

Roku Premiere
Roku Premiere. (Roku)

Roku announced on Tuesday that its devices now support voice controls powered by Amazon Alexa via a new Roku Alexa skill.

The feature now works for Roku’s streaming devices and smart TVs running the Roku TV operating system, provided those consumers also own an Alexa-enabled device like an Amazon Echo, Echo Show, Echo Dot, Echo Spot or Echo Plus. The feature will work on devices running Roku OS 8.1 or higher.

“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,” said Ilya Asnis, senior vice president of Roku OS at Roku, in a statement. “Roku customers can get to the entertainment they love faster so they can enjoy more of it.”

The integration enables voice commands including “Alexa, find comedies on Roku,” “Alexa, pause Roku,” or “Alexa, open Hulu on Roku,” according to a news release. Roku TV users can also turn on the TV, change the volume, mute the TV, switch inputs and change channels if there is an OTA antenna connected.

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Roku’s support for Amazon Alexa comes after the company late last year built in support for Google Assistant.

But Roku has also worked to build in native voice controls on its platform and devices. More than a year ago, the company announced plans to develop and launch a voice assistant, the Roku Entertainment Assistant. The feature is intended to work along with Roku Connect to give users whole home control over devices like connected TVs and speakers.

“We’ve always focused on making it incredibly simple for consumers to find and enjoy streaming entertainment on their TVs, and with an expanded Roku ecosystem, consumers will be able to add great sound to their TVs and audio around the whole home in a modern way,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood in a statement. “Consumers will love the benefits of a home entertainment network, such as having more affordable options, adding one device at a time, using their voice, having a simplified set up and Wi-Fi connectivity, and holding just one remote control. And, of course, OEM brands benefit by offering their products in a more appealing way to our already large and engaged audience of millions of active accounts.”

Roku last year said its voice assistant launch would be delayed until some time in 2019. But the company has been rolling out Roku OS 9 which includes a voice search feature that supports genre-based searches for free entertainment.