Despite wide availability and vast improvements in speech recognition, most folks rarely use voice assistants. And when we do talk to Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, it’s often just to ask about the weather. But there are a few voice commands you could be using today to enhance your TV viewing experience, because, let’s face it, navigating with a TV remote is a pain.
Imagine you’re halfway through an episode of Andor or your current favorite TV show, and the doorbell goes off. You can use a voice command to pause the action or rewind to where you left off when you return. You can also use voice commands to launch a streaming app, check who directed the show, or even find out what the actor on screen just said.
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What You Need
All the best TVs and TV streaming devices have some form of voice control built in. The most versatile are Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Roku voice commands, but others offer at least some of the same functionality. If your remote has a button with a microphone icon on it, then it supports voice commands.
You can also sometimes use a smartphone, smart speaker, or smart display to control your TV, provided it is in the same room and connected to the same Wi-Fi network. This is handy if you don’t want to have to reach for the remote and press that microphone button before you issue a command.
There’s usually some setup required for all this to work, like adding your smart TV to the Google or Apple Home apps, Samsung SmartThings app, or installing the Roku app. With Amazon’s Alexa, you can pair smart speakers to your Fire TV by opening the Alexa app, tapping More > TV & Video, selecting your Fire TV, and choosing the Echo speaker you want to control the TV with. You may also need to link your streaming services accounts, but that’s usually part of the setup for streaming devices like Chromecast with Google TV.
Simple voice commands that will work with any service, include things like:
- Play from the beginning
- Volume down
- Volume up
Choosing What to Watch
Because it’s such a pain to type anything using a remote control, voice commands are great for launching apps, specific shows, and movies, or finding content that you might like. Here are a few commands to try:
- Launch Netflix
- Open Hulu
- Show me movies with Sam Rockwell
- Play Stranger Things on Netflix
- Show me sci-fi TV shows
- Find action movies in 4K
- Find all Martin Scorcese movies
With Google Assistant, you don’t even need to know the name of the movie, you can say things like, “Stallone, boxing movie” and Rocky will pop up, or “funny vampire movie” to get What We Do in the Shadows.
Back and Forward
It can be tricky to fast-forward or rewind with accuracy using a remote, but you can be precise with voice commands. Try these:
- Rewind 10 minutes
- Skip forward 30 seconds
- Go back 10 seconds
- Fast forward three minutes
- Play next episode