Tell Alexa to skip the commercial and your TiVo will make it happen
By Simon Cohen
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Starting today, May 14, TV junkies now have a new pal to keep them company while they binge on their favorite shows. A new Alexa skill, which was teased back in March, now lets TiVo users leave their remote control on the coffee table without giving up control of their DVR.
Commands like “Alexa, watch CBS,” or “Alexa, go to Fox” will do just that: A connected TiVo DVR will dutifully switch channels so that you can go about your regular activities without needing to reach for the remote, whether that activity is cooking in the kitchen, or simply guiding that next handful of popcorn into your mouth. But the command that will likely be used most, and with considerable glee, is the crowd-pleasing, “Alexa, skip commercials,” to perform TiVo’s skip mode jump.
Additional commands include “play,” “pause,” “go back” (an eight-second reverse skip), “fast forward,” and “rewind.” There’s even the option to launch any of the streaming services that TiVo supports, with “Alexa, open Netflix.” Alexa aficionados will take note that no extra modifier is needed to get Alexa to recognize that you want to control a TiVo, instead of say, your Sonos.
This is accomplished partially through context. If you are issuing Sonos-related commands, and decide to switch to TiVo control, you’ll need to get Alexa to switch her focus. “Alexa, pause on TiVo,” will do the trick, and from then on — until you switch her focus again — all compatible commands will work on your DVR without needing to add “on TiVo.”
If you own an Alexa device and one of these TiVos: Series 4, 5, and 6 DVR boxes including TiVo Premiere, TiVo Roamio, and TiVo BOLT, you’ve got everything you need to start barking at your TV. But if you’ve got a Google Home device instead, don’t worry — you’re still invited to the voice command party — your invitation is on its way. “We want to continue to invest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and far field experiences with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home,”Andrew Heymann, TiVo’s senior director of product management said in a blog post, “which we have already started working on.” As to the timing of the Google Home launch, neither Heymann nor TiVo are offering anything specific.
This Alexa skill isn’t the only way to talk to a TiVo. The company launched its first voice-enabled DVRs earlier this year, and is busy updating its entire line of devices with the “Vox” appendix, which indicates that it ships with (or is compatible with) TiVo’s voice-enabled remote control.