Call any Alexa-enabled device with a screen, including smartphones, Fire tablets, and the Echo Show
If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.
Amazon’s Fire TV Cube can now be linked with a webcam for video chats on your TV screen. The new feature is available starting today and is limited to the newer second-generation model of the Cube. But it allows owners of that product to start two-way video calls with “any Alexa-enabled device with a screen, including tablets, phones and devices like the Echo Show.” A new software update that enables video calling will begin rolling out today through the coming weeks in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain.
For a webcam to be compatible, according to Amazon, it must “support UVC with at least 720p resolution and 30fps,” but you’ll get a “better experience” from “webcams with 1080p resolution and 60 to 90-degree field of view from 6 to 10 feet away from the TV.” 4K webcams “are not recommended.” To make the whole process a bit simpler, Amazon has put out a list of recommended webcams to start from, including several Logitech models:
But there is one other small snag you’ll have to deal with: since the Fire TV Cube only has a Micro USB port on the back, you’ll need a USB-A to Micro USB adapter to get this webcam functionality up and running. Amazon also has some picks for those:
These video calls all start with video off by default. If there’s an incoming one, you’ll see the caller ID on-screen, and Alexa will speak out the caller’s name. You can answer by saying, “Alexa, answer.”
Amazon says it’s doing all this to help ease an unconventional holiday season where many people might not see one another in person. “Forget holding up a phone for 30 minutes, or cramming everyone in to see who’s on screen. With video calling on Fire TV Cube, you don’t even have to leave the couch to catch up with friends and family.”
There are also new upcoming features for other Fire TV devices that Amazon announced today:
Ring Doorbell Camera Notifications
With holiday shopping likely to generate a flurry of package deliveries this month, Fire TV owners will be able to receive notifications on their Fire TV screen when the doorbell rings and watch the security camera video in full-screen by saying “Alexa, show me [Ring device name],” or “Alexa, talk to [Ring device name].” Fire TV devices can receive doorbell notifications for Ring doorbell devices only; Fire TV Cube (2nd generation) is not supported. Learn more about linking Ring products to Fire TV devices here.
Alexa Responses While Watching TV
Customers will be able to ask Alexa on Fire TV devices about the weather or for general information without interrupting the TV viewing or browsing experience. Responses will be answered by Alexa on a partial screen overlay on top of full-screen video playback or the Fire TV browse screen background. To get started, simply ask, “Alexa, how is the weather?” or “Alexa, how far is planet Mars?” This feature will be available on all Fire TV devices, excluding 1st Gen Fire TV Stick and 1st Gen Fire TV.
A newsletter about computers