The Amazon Fire TV Stick works great as a video streaming device thanks to its low price and small form factor, but without voice dialing built into the remote, the device doesn’t do as well as the larger Amazon Fire TV set-top box. Fire TV Stick owners can use their phone as a Fire TV Stick remote using the Fire TV App, which includes the missing voice calling features out of the cheaper $39 Fire TV stick.
For more information on the Fire TV Stick, see our review and comparisons of the Google Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick.
With the included voice search feature, we will show users how to install the app and use it as a remote control. [easyazon_link asin=”B00GDQ0RMG” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gbm-ea-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Fire TV Stick[/easyazon_link] ($39) Far from Amazon. Alternatively, users can purchase the voice remote for $29.99, but it doesn’t make sense when the user can get the free app.
Installing Fire TV App on Phone
First, get the Fire TV App for smartphone. Amazon makes a free remote control app for various types of smartphones with the following links:
We assume that the user has already set up the Fire TV Stick and connected it to a local Wi-Fi network. To install the Phone app, the user must connect the phone and Fire TV Stick to the same Wi-Fi network.
Fire up the app and it will find the Fire TV Stick on the network. To connect the remote and the stick, tap the name of the stick and the Fire TV App displays the remote control screen.
If the remote control bar does not show, check the following:
Voice Search Using the Fire TV App
There is a microphone icon at the top of the screen. Tap and hold the icon and drag it down without releasing it. Speak into the phone microphone while holding down the microphone icon and say what you want to call. The app will search for things like actor names, movie or TV show names, and app names.
When the remote application sends the search to the bar, this search string will show a list of what’s included. For example, I searched for “Jack Ryan” in the video demo above and found several movies based on Tom Clancy’s character. So I searched for “West Wing” and found the show. Then I searched for “Netflix”, it showed the app title.
When the screen shows the list of results, tap one of the items by swiping down until the item is selected, and then tap the touch part of the app. It selects that item and tells the Fire TV Stick to show that thing.
Controlling Fire TV Stick with Fire TV App
The app also includes a virtual remote control user interface. The main part of the screen emulates a touchpad. Swipe left, right, up or down. Doing so acts like the direction buttons on the physical Fire TV Stick remote.
Tapping the app’s touchpad works like the middle select or home button on the remote.
Notice at the top and bottom of the screen above, the app shows two groups of buttons. In the upper left corner of the voice search button, we see the menu button that brings the Fire TV Stick menu. On the other side of the voice search button is a keyboard button. The keyboard brings up the phone’s keyboard and allows the user to type instead of entering data with the on-screen keyboard and remote control. This makes entering usernames, email addresses and passwords faster and more efficient.
At the bottom of the screen we see three more buttons. The leftmost button is the back button. Returns to the previous screen on Fire TV Stick. The Home button takes the user to the Home screen on the Fire TV Stick. The last button slides up to show the playback controls. It confused me at first, because it’s not clear that the user has to hold the button and swipe up to show the play buttons.
Three playback controls do what you’d expect. Rewind the video, play or pause the video and fast forward the video. These buttons also control music and slideshows.
Thanks to the Fire TV App, the Fire TV Stick can [easyazon_link asin=”B00CX5P8FC” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gbm-ea-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Amazon Fire TV[/easyazon_link] The set-top box does, but at half the price. A full size box is $100, [easyazon_link asin=”B00GDQ0RMG” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gbm-ea-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Fire TV Stick[/easyazon_link] It costs just $39. Users can add a physical remote with voice search for just $29, but why would you, when the phone app makes voice calls and adds a keyboard for data entry.