The move makes the BT-owned outfit the first UK service provider to provide an Amazon Alexa skillset on its set-top boxes.
Users can ask Alexa what is on TV tonight, with Alexa providing three recommendations provided from the same source that supplies Freeview Picks – the digital-terrestrial service’s recommendation feature.
Users have the option to record any or all of the recommended shows using a voice command. The skill works whether EE TV is switched on or in standby mode.
EE said its skill for Alexa is the first in a number of commands being looked at for the platform. The operator will review the Amazon Alexa Video Skills API for integration with the service.
EE customers can linke EE TV to their Alexa account by enabling the EE TV skill via the Alexa app.
Max Taylor, managing director of marketing, EE said: “We’re continually looking for ways to further enhance the accessibility and usability of EE TV – so we’re pleased to work with Amazon to launch the first Alexa skill on a set top box in the UK. The new skill will allow users to discover new content and help to enrich their TV experience, so they can make the most out of it.”
Fabrice Rousseau, General Manager, Alexa Skills Kit EU, said: “Alexa integration with EE TV creates a truly hands-free TV experience. Customers can now ask Alexa to find things to watch and record the shows they want—no remote required. This is much more natural, and an experience that will get even better in future.”
EE appears to have chosen to implement a relatively limited set of voice command features for now to test the waters for voice control. The operator is believed to have conducted a trial with a limited number of users before going live with the service.
EE will be hoping to leverage the relatively high penetration of Amazon voice assistants in the UK. Amazon’s APIs are also recognized as being accessible for video services. The company recently introduced the Video Manager API to cater specifically for the needs of video providers.
YouView, the broadcaster-supported platform that is used by BT and TalkTalk for their TV services, also announced in June that it was piloting Alexa voice control for its connected set-top boxes.
“EE continues to push the boundaries with its TV service. Given the fragmented nature of TV services today, we believe that voice will play a pivotal role in finding the programmes consumers want to watch. More importantly the support for Amazon Alexa goes one step further than Sky Q in supporting additional voice features,” said Paolo Pescatore, vice-president, multiplay and media, CCS Insight, commenting on the launch.
“Credit should go to its partner Netgem for further differentiating EE TV over rivals. This latest move clearly underlines the importance of software in enhancing a TV service. Undoubtedly EE TV is a great option for consumers who are looking for a good set-top-box with access to a wide range of programming including free-to-air, on demand and a la carte purchases to premium content.”
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