If you have a Roku TV or streaming device like the Roku Streaming Stick+, you can now control it using Alexa – as long as you have an Alexa-enabled smart speaker, that is.
This is thanks to a brand-new Alexa skill, which you can set up by opening the Alexa app on your smartphone, heading to settings, and selecting 'TV & Video'.
Once there, you can enable the Roku skill and link it to your account.
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As Alexa isn't built directly into Roku devices, you will need a compatible speaker like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show to use this new skill.
Roku says that you can "pause a show, launch a streaming channel, and search for entertainment", by saying things like "Alexa, find comedies on Roku", or "Alexa, pause Roku."
This isn't the only way you can control your Roku device with your voice, however.
Roku devices were recently updated with a new Enhanced Voice Search feature, so users can search for their favorite shows and movies by speaking directly into the Roku mobile app – or the remote, if you're using the Roku Streaming Stick+.
So, why bother creating an Alexa skill when Roku already has a form of voice search? Senior vice president of Roku OS, Ilya Asnis explains that it's about flexibility.
“Consumers often have multiple voice ecosystems in their homes," Asnis said in a press release announcing the feature. "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.”
If you're already using Alexa to control other aspects of your smart home, it might be useful to keep your streaming device in the same smart family.
Right now, the Alexa skill is only available in the US, with no word yet on when it will become available in other territories.
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