Amazon Fire TV just got an awesome new feature for free

You no longer need an Amazon Echo to take advantage of the nifty Alexa Announcements feature

Amazon Fire TV Update Alexa
(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon is bringing its Alexa Announcements feature to its Fire TV set-top boxes and HDMI streaming dongles in the UK. The new functionality will land with a free over-the-air update that will install automatically in the coming days, Amazon says.

For those who don't know, Alexa Announcements has long been a staple on the Amazon Echo-branded smart speakers and allows users to send messages to other Alexa-powered devices. For example, you could use the Echo Show 5 in the kitchen to send a message that plays from every other Alexa gadget in the house telling nearby family members or friends that dinner is ready.

To trigger the functionality, users will need to use the voice command: "Alexa, announce..." followed by the message they want to be beamed from every Echo gadget in the household. Rival Google Home smart speakers have a very similar feature dubbed "Broadcast". 

When the latest software update rolls out, Alexa Announcements will be enabled automatically on all Fire TV devices in your home.

If you'd like to disable the feature, head to the Alexa companion app on your smartphone or tablet, hit "Devices", select the appropriate Fire TV device, and you'll find the option to enable or disable Alexa Announcements.

To use the feature on Fire TV, you'll need to press and hold down the microphone button on the Alexa Voice Remote and say something like "Alexa, announce that the movie is about to start". A short chime will play on all other compatible Alexa-enabled devices followed by the message in the chatty AI assistant's voice.

(Image credit: Amazon)

To receive an Alexa Announcement from other Echo devices, you'll need to have the television switched on and turned to the Fire TV input, which means you're likely going to use the Fire TV to broadcast to other rooms, rather than receive messages.

When the Fire TV receives an Alexa Announcement, customers will get an audible and visual notification before the message starts. Obviously, Amazon will automatically pause whatever you're watching at the time, and resume playback of The Grand Tour as soon as the message has been read out.

As well as the arrival of Alexa Announcements, the Official YouTube app is also now available on all Fire TV devices. The new Google-designed YouTube app should already be in the Your Apps and Channels row right now. 

The official YouTube app on Fire TV is better than ever with expanded Alexa voice controls that let you find, launch, and control content (pause, play, rewind, fast-forward) using your voice. As you'd expect, the Fire TV can handle videos in 4K HDR at up to 60 fps on supported TVs. The new YouTube app will be the default YouTube experience for customers using a compatible Fire TV device, effective immediately.

The arrival of the Alexa-enabled app marks the end of a long-running feud between Google and Amazon around streaming devices.