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YouTube TV's Voice Remote feature is the silliest example of a big trend we're seeing

My grandkids won't remember a time they didn't talk to the TV.


The YouTube TV app, running on a Google Pixel phone.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This is going to sound pretty silly, but bear with me a sec.

There's a new "Voice Remote" feature for the YouTube TV app that -- get this -- lets you ask for exactly what you want to watch. But only on phones, according to 9to5Google. Not on Rokus or Android TVs or other YouTube TV-equipped bigscreen devices where you'd likely have privacy and a comfy couch. Not yet.

Oh, and it sounds like it only works after you press a button, according to Google's support page. So it's not like you're going to prop up your phone on the kitchen counter, start cooking a fancy dinner, and be able to change the channel hands-free. 

(Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.)

In other words, this feature is only for those who pay $40 a month for a YouTube TV streaming subscription, and already have a phone in their hands which could let them type to search, too. But YouTube TV isn't alone.

Earlier today, we got wind that TiVo DVR boxes might soon support the Alexa assistant. Just last week, LG's new TVs got Google Assistant voice controls. Even streaming media sticks as cheap as the $40 Amazon Fire Stick come with a free voice remote now.   

As voice assistants start to become faster than typing -- I sometimes use 'em to dictate my text messages now -- the TV is an obvious place for these services to roll out. You don't always know which channel is playing your favorite show, or whether it's on a channel at all. You want instant gratification from whichever streaming service or TV network has the movie or show you want. 

I'm not sure my grandkids will use a keyboard at all. (My 18-month-old can already say Google.) But I'll go out on a limb and say they won't even remember a time before voice was the primary way to control big screens on the wall.