What happened to voice control in the DIRECTV app?

Voice control within the DIRECTV app was one of the hits of the 2013 season. It’s mysteriously gone from the app now. What happened?

A little background

DIRECTV’s app was updated to feature voice control all the way back in 2013. Remember, this was before Alexa and Google Home were ever in the picture. The app used its own voice technology, not even relying on Siri or any of the other available voice recognition systems at the time.

I reviewed the app when it first came out and that review is still available. Back then PDFs were the big thing for reviews, of course now most of the time people prefer videos or web pages.

The DIRECTV app still supported voice in 2016, and I’m a little embarrassed to say that’s probably the last time I thought about it. Although I was excited for the technology, I never really used it. I just find pushing buttons to be much easier in most cases.

Sometime between then and now, the voice search functionality disappeared from both the app and the DIRECTV user interface. I have to suspect that it never made it into the new Genie user interface, which means it’s been gone for at least three years.

Gone, but not gone

DIRECTV no longer uses its app for voice integration. But it’s not gone. An Alexa skill for DIRECTV was added back in 2018. At the time it only supported one device at a time. That’s since been changed. You can now control all the Genie devices in your home.

The only thing I’ll tell you is that it’s a little hard to use the skill because you have to use the entire name of the device. You can change the name so it’s easier, but you still have to say “Alexa, change the channel on Genie Mini Living Room to 229.” That’s a lot of talking when you could just mash 229 on the remote. But hey, whatever works for you.

If you’re really into voice commands, I personally recommend using DIRECTV Stream instead of DIRECTV satellite. The Stream service comes with a box with a full voice-enabled remote. That remote uses Google Home and it works very well. Because the remote is linked to the device, you don’t have to announce what you’re talking about. You just say “change channel to HGTV” and it just does it.

The big picture: I think we were wrong about voice

Voice control was a fixture of science fiction movies, but despite being available for several years it never really caught on in real life. Alexa is good for answering quick questions. She’s good at turning on the lights when you walk in the door with your hands full. And, she’s good at telling you if you left the oven on (assuming your oven is smart enough to tell her.) Beyond that, she’s kind of a curiosity. I don’t tend to use voice control in most cases, and most of the folks I know only use it for music.

Solid Signal doesn’t sell voice control…

…but we do sell a full selection of smart home adapters and products. Check out the great selection!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.