Hot on the heels of DISH’s news about smart home integration, AT&T has announced that its Alexa skill for connected DVRs is 100% live and ready to go. If you have an Alexa-enabled device like an Echo or the Alexa app on your phone, you can ask your DIRECTV box to change channels, find shows, set recordings, and more.
Long time coming
The Alexa skill was first announced in April of this year but was considered more of an open beta and wasn’t heavily promoted. You’re going to see a lot more promotion in the coming months as the smart home wars keep heating up.
For now, it’s another good reason to have your DVR networked. (If you don’t know how, here’s a great way to learn.) With a networked DIRECTV system you’ll get better searches, on-demand video, and interactive features. Now, you’ll get voice control too!
A worthy upgrade
DIRECTV products have actually had a form of voice control for about five years. Long before Alexa, the iPhone app offered voice searching and control and I was there to review it. The implementation was pretty good at the time and it’s still out there, but the big problems were there too. First of all there was not any sort of integration, meaning you couldn’t combine voice skills for DIRECTV with other voice skills. That’s where Alexa excels. Also, the app didn’t have always-on listening, so you had to launch the app, wait for it to validate your password, go to the right screen, and then you could finally use your voice to search for things. Personally, I didn’t do it a lot because of that.
What can you do with Alexa?
There isn’t a formal list of commands yet but definitely you can change the channel, search, and set recordings. I do expect a complete list to come out fairly soon.