Amazon Fire TV Sticks now turn your television into an Echo Show smart display

fire tv
(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon Fire TV devices are getting a brand new update to enhance their interface, and it seems to be taking a lesson from Amazon's range of Echo Show smart displays, such as the Echo Show 5 and new Echo Show 10.

The new update includes what Amazon calls "visual experiences on Fire TV", meaning a paired Alexa device can use your Fire TV streamer to display "music, local search, calendar, smart home cameras, to-do lists" or the weather forecast on your television screen.

While your flatmates or family may complain if you're constantly bringing up weather forecasts or trivia questions during a movie, you may find it useful to have this kind of smart display functionality on your TV screen – especially since you won't need to buy a smart display to get it.

Users will also need to preface voice commands with "Alexa, show me..." for it to come up on the TV – and you will need to have paired your Fire TV device and Alexa speaker in the Alexa app.

It should be more intuitive to navigate the Fire TV interface via voice, too, with new commands available for jumping to the "Watchlist", or "Home" tab.

The changes will require an Amazon Echo or similar to pick up hands-free voice commands, but mean you won't find yourself scrabbling for your Fire TV Stick's Alexa remote to get the TV on or find out necessary information.

All Fire TV devices, of course, come with a dedicated Alexa remote – most of which include TV and volume controls, though the cheapest Fire TV Stick Lite model does without them.

TVs as smart displays

It's a similar idea as that touted by Facebook with the Portal TV webcam, which attaches to the upper bezel of a television and plugs in via HDMI, essentially turning your television into a Portal smart display.

Execution wasn't perfect, though, with poor camera quality and a shaky face-tracking feature – not to mention the stress of letting Facebook put a camera in your living room.

These Fire TV changes are far more angled around ease of interface, though, rather than video calls – meaning you can focus on that all-important TV streaming instead.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.