TiVo Contemplates Alexa Voice Control

Dave Zatz —  January 6, 2017

From CES, TiVo has reaffirmed their intentions to bring voice control to the platform… this year. While cagey on details, and perhaps still contemplating their approach(es), some interesting nuggets have come to light:

In a briefing here at the show, Tivo SVP and GM Michael Hawkey hinted at the likelihood of a natural language interface for Tivo solutions that might come in the form of a brand new product, but might also be added to legacy products via a new remote, or, more likely, through integration with products like Amazon’s Echo hardware line.

TiVo management has been alluding to voice capabilities for a few years, with perhaps an original thought of bringing control to mobile applications… like Roku has done, rather than bundling a microphone-endowed remote as Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV do. In my households, I do appreciate some of the more basic Logitech Harmony Alexa skills (whereas the newer ones need work) and Mom enjoys calling up cable channels via her brand-spanking-new Xfinity voice remote (despite months of having to hammer Comcast).

11 responses to TiVo Contemplates Alexa Voice Control

  1. I know this seems to be a big deal (voice control) to the video companies, and acknowledging in advance that one doesn’t preclude the other, but for gosh sake, can we work on getting guide problems fixed. Priorities people!

  2. Yeah, Rovi guide has been inferior to Tribune and some fixes or updates have been slow to happen.

  3. Well, the list of companies/devices choosing Echo (Alexa) keeps getting longer and longer. I think Dish announced voice control with Echo, as well, supposedly coming in months. While I and others find voice control to be a plus, there is no doubt that the voice control revolution will greatly aid the elderly (like you mom and mine) and those with almost any number of disabilities. This can offer greater independance and confidence to a population often forgotten. Although I have no “need” for voice control, I certainly welcome it for ease and greater efficiency or being able to find things asking a common English question rather than trying to figure out some devices overwhelming UI and menu structure. Agreed, TiVo does need to fix guide and the scandelous broken MRV between S3 and newer TiVo’s, but I think the effort on voice control is wise given that TiVo has sometimes fallen behind in innovation. This helps TiVo to be part of the growing number of DVR’s that will implement voice control. I look forward to it–after fixing guide data and MRV issues:).

  4. If they add voice control to legacy products via a new remote, I’m assuming it would be limited to the Bolt models, and Roamio products would be left out of the fun. (Then again, they are still selling two versions of the Roamio.) Prove me wrong, TiVo!

    Of course, seeing as I just splurged on a Harmony w/ Hub and an Echo Dot for basic voice control of my home entertainment system, I’m not sure I’d necessarily want to purchase another remote just to use the TiVo.

  5. “Yeah, Rovi guide has been inferior to Tribune”

    Yup. It’s really a drag. If I could have only one of Tribune-like guide data, or voice control, I’d choose the better guide data.

    The Rovi data has screwed up so very many different things, each in a relatively minor way, but the cumulative effect has really diminished my TiVo experience. (The two minor changes that annoy me the most are that Search picks up far, far fewer OTT titles than before. And that when I go a directors’ filmography to find other titles and see availability, generally half of the director’s films are missing, compared to before.)

    But, of course, better guide data just ain’t gonna happen. They’re obviously not going to go back to Tribune, and Rovi was already in the guide data business prior to the TiVo deal, so we’re SOL on that front.

  6. “If they add voice control to legacy products via a new remote, I’m assuming it would be limited to the Bolt models, and Roamio products would be left out of the fun.”

    Frankly, I think your assumption is highly likely incorrect. They’ve been damn good at porting Bolt stuff back to the Roamio, often after only a short delay. I think the code bases are similar enough for it not to be much of a hassle for them.

    We all like to bitch about TiVo’s various failings, but this generally hasn’t been one of them.

  7. Well if Alexa is as difficult to control as it is with my Harmony hub, I’m not sure how well it would be accepted. My dot can be quite dumb with very simple commands.

  8. Rovi guide is a joke, the NBC Boston transition was a trainwreck and still isn’t fully sorted out.

    As far as adding voice controls, hopefully they expose some APIs va IFTTT so we can control our TiVos via Google Assistant and Echo.

  9. @Chucky, I hope you’re right. They were good about updating the Roamio with quick mode and commercial skip. Perhaps I still just have a bad taste in my mouth from when they limited the functionality of the TiVo app for Series 3 models which I always felt was to push people to upgrade to Premiere models. (But maybe there was actually a technical reason why you couldn’t schedule recordings via the app on Series 3 models.)

  10. @Chucky, and to add, the fact they are testing out cloud DVR functionality on Roamio models is a good sign they are still open to adding new functionality to the older hardware.

  11. I’ve been tinkering with an Alexa skill for TiVo but would love to see an officially supported skill.