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Media Streamers

Amazon to stoke Fire TV voice search, add app

Amazon has announced several upcoming improvements to the new Fire TV media box, including new services covered by its voice search and an app for phones and tablets.

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Hulu Plus, Crackle, and Showtime Anytime are joining Fire TV's voice search catalog Sarah Tew/CNET

Just over two weeks after release the Amazon Fire TV streaming box is getting some significant upgrades.

Our full review called the Fire TV an and now it seems the company is taking some of our advice to heart.

Author Matthew Moskovciak said "the voice-search feature doesn't comb through Netflix or most other non-Amazon apps," and voila! Amazon now says it will add results from Hulu Plus, Crackle and Showtime Anytime to the feature, joining Vevo and of course Amazon's own Instant Video catalog. We can only hope Netflix becomes searchable by voice soon.

When we charted the features of Fire TV vs. Chromecast vs. Roku vs. Apple TV, we pointed out that a Fire TV app was missing. Amazon says that's changing; soon "you will be able to play touch-enabled games with the upcoming Fire TV app for your phone or tablet."

Other improvements include better Prime browse, said to ease discovery of movies and TV shows that are free-to-stream for Prime subscribers. Perhaps that'll address another rough edge Matthew discovered about the interface: the confusing presence of a "purchase price right below the watch button [which] always made me hesitant that I was going to get charged to my Amazon account."

Amazon also touted a slew of developers hard at work on apps and games, including Telltale Games, Halfbrick, Pixowl, Disney Interactive, Minority Media, Paradox Interactive, Gaiam, AllRecipes, and Twitch (sorry, no mention of HBO Go). Finally, we were reminded that Amazon still plans to add its own FreeTime and MP3 services as part of a future update (timing still TBD).

The bulk of Amazon's press release was, as these things tend to be, chock-a-block with decontextualized pull-quotes from dazzled reviewers agog at the box's "amazing"-ness. We weren't as impressed as most of those folks, but talk to us again after a few more edge-smoothing updates.