From Echo Show updates that allow you to raise your hand to dismiss timers and alarms, to Fire TV becoming the first-ever streaming media player to support Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids, we have some exciting new updates you should know about if you've been gifted a new device this Christmas.

Our devices and services are always getting smarter, for both their features and natural language understanding and accuracy. From Fire TV and Fire Tablet, to Kindle and Echo Show, our devices are designed to make lives easier and the world more connected.

Latest updates and exciting innovations include three new Alexa features to customers’ Echo Show devices, two new features for Echo devices, and Fire TV now supporting Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA), making Fire TV the first-ever streaming media player to support ASHA and allow customers to directly connect compatible Bluetooth hearing aids.

Three new features to try out on your Echo Show

Since the launch of the original Echo Show in 2017, we’ve continued to develop features that make interacting with Alexa more natural. With the addition of a screen, customers have not only been able to ask Alexa for spoken responses, they’ve been able to see the weather forecast, follow along to a recipe, watch videos, make video calls, and check their security cameras and video doorbells.

An image of the new Echo Show 10 on a kitchen counter. The device is showing recipes on BBC goodfood and next to the device there is a chopping board with tomatoes and onions.

Now, we’re excited to introduce three new Alexa features that we hope many Echo Show customers will find useful:

1. Gestures: Dismiss timers and alarms by simply raising your hand 

Gestures is a new way to interact with Alexa without using your voice or needing to tap the screen. It allows you to dismiss timers and alarms by raising your hand, with your palm facing the camera of your Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen), Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen) or 10 (3rd Gen) devices. This feature can come in handy (no pun intended) when it is inconvenient to speak to Alexa or touch the Echo Show screen. For example, when you want to dismiss a pasta timer with greasy hands while blasting music in the kitchen, you can simply lift your hand to end the alert. This feature can also be useful for non-verbal customers, or customers with limited mobility. Gesture can be enabled from the device settings menu by selecting “Settings,” then “Device Options,” then “Gestures.”

2. Tap to use Alexa: Use text to speech to type out phrases and have them spoken out loud

Tap to Alexa on Echo Show devices allows you to access Alexa via touch instead of voice. With Tap to Alexa, customers already had access to a dashboard of Alexa commands on their Echo Show screen, with their own touch-based shortcuts for popular requests, along with the ability to create custom requests. Now, we’ve added text-to-speech functionality to Tap to Alexa, so you can type out phrases and have them spoken out loud via your Echo Show device. You can save shortcut tiles for your most common phrases, like “I’m hungry,” and customise these requests with new icons and colours. Text to speech can be useful for customers with speech impediments or who are non-verbal or non-speaking, and who might seek to use their device to communicate with others in their home.
3. Subtitles: Enable captions on all of your devices one time—and one time only

You can now turn on Subtitles/Captions across all your supported Echo Show devices. Each form of captioning can be helpful for customers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or in loud or noisy environments. For example, with Subtitles, you can see captions for Alexa calls in real time, and Alexa Subtitles lets you see captions for Alexa's responses. On any Echo Show device, swipe down from the top to select “Settings,” then tap “Accessibility,” and select “Captions” and on your Alexa App, head to “More”, select “Settings” and “Accessibility” to toggle on “Subtitles.”

Two new features to try on any Echo device

1. Adaptive Listening: New Feature Gives Customers More Time to Finish Speaking with Alexa

Amazon’s goal is to make it simpler and more natural for all customers to interact with Alexa. This is why customers in UK can now choose to have more time to finish speaking before Alexa responds to them. The new optional feature is designed to be helpful for people who may have certain speech impediments, like a stutter, or anyone who just wants a bit more time. You can turn the Adaptive Listening setting for any compatible device in your household by going to the Alexa App, selecting See More, then Settings, then Accessibility.

 2. Type with Alexa: With ‘Type with Alexa’ customers can interact with Alexa on their device without speaking, whether it is their Echo Dot (5th Gen) or Echo Show 15. To talk to Alexa by text, use the Alexa app and follow the below steps:

  • In the Alexa app, open Home, and select the keyboard icon. Or, tap the Talk to Alexa icon and then select the keyboard icon from the bottom of the Alexa voice screen.
  • Type in your request, just as you would speak to your Alexa-enabled devices. You don't need your wake word.
  • To send the message to Alexa, select Return or Go on the keyboard.

Fire TV now supports Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA)

Fire TV Cube (2nd gen) and Fire TV Omni Series now support Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA). This makes Fire TV the first-ever streaming media player to support ASHA and allow customers to directly connect compatible Bluetooth hearing aids.

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series (1)

With the new feature, hearing aids connect with Fire TV at the system level, so customers can not only enjoy audio from their favourite apps but also Alexa, music, navigational sounds and more.

How to enable this capability:

  • Customers with compatible Starkey Bluetooth hearing aids can connect directly to Fire TV Cube or Fire TV Omni Series for private listening, use your remote’s volume buttons to control the streaming audio level.
  • Bluetooth hearing aids connect with Fire TV on a system level, so you can enjoy private audio from your favourite streaming services, apps, and games as well as Alexa.
  • To pair your hearing aids, visit Fire TV Settings, Accessibility, select Hearing Aids, and follow the on-screen instructions to connect them, much like you would with Bluetooth headphones.
  • To control the streaming volume, use the Fire TV remote like you otherwise would. When you’re done with your movie, you can disconnect through a shortcut by pressing and holding the ‘Home’ button and selecting ‘Disconnect Hearing Aids.’
  • For an optimal experience, we recommend customers connect over a 5Ghz wifi network, within 10 feet and in line of sight to Fire TV Cube or Fire TV Omni Series. Due to the small size of hearing aids, their radio antennas require closer proximity for the best connection. Customers with 2.4GHz wifi can still enjoy the feature, with range that varies depending on spectrum congestion.

We’re excited to evolve functionality over time and look forward to getting feedback on what customers find more useful, reach out to us via social media @amazonuk.
Find more information about accessibility features.