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Hello Amazon! There Is Voice Activation on a Roku. It’s Called an iPhone.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I read an article by Molly Wood in this morning’s NY Times that there is a serious limitation with the Amazon Fire’s  much hyped voice integration: it only give results for Amazon movies.

In other words, when you speak the words “House of Cards,” it tells you that you can rent episodes for $2.99 on Amazon.  Thanks a lot, Amazon.

On the other hand, I can search across multiple platforms on my Roku.  But what about the voice part?

There are a lot of iPhone apps for controlling Rokus and iPhones can translate your voice into text.  Otherwise Siri wouldn’t be much use.

So I downloaded the official Roku app.    (The same app is available for the Android.)

Using the app, I clicked “search” from my Roku menu and was shown the usual snail-like Cable TV-type screen where you sloooowly hunt for each letter, pushing up-down-left-right. 

Instead, I clicked the microphone icon on my phone and said “House of Cards”   What happened next kind of blew my mind.

Swooosh! The cursor zoomed up and down and sideways around all the letters in a flash and gave me the results.

Surprise!   It turns out “House of Cards” is available on my Roku on Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and MGO.   

If I didn’t have work to do, I could have sat there for hours watching  it search for movies, actors, etc. 

And the iPhone search worked the same way within Netflix itself.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it worked in the same way in all of the Roku apps.


I think it’s the best deal out there because of the 2-Day shipping and the Kindle books (and they are rumored to be adding a Spotify-type service too).  

I’m probably the biggest boosters they have.  I have a Pinterest board and run a Google+ Community about the films and TV Shows that are on Amazon Prime, but aren’t on Netflix.  It’s something I’m really curious about. 

Still, until they come up with more compelling reasons, I’m going to keep watching my Amazon Prime movies on my Roku and iPad. 

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