Sky has introduced a bevy of new voice controls that are set to transform the way people use its Sky Q system.
They expand the voice functionality beyond search, adding channel hopping to the mix, and are part of a feature update that is rolling out to Sky Q boxes from today. If you don't get it immediately, you will over the "coming weeks".
Sky hopes it lessens the need to remember where your favourite channels are in the EPG and, specifically, their channel numbers.
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In addition, voice channel selection will please high-def viewers. It will automatically select the HD version of a channel where available.
Channel 4 and ITV viewers can finally forget the seemingly random channel numbers they've each been assigned.
Users can now also use voice commands to play recorded shows or movies - "Play Tin Star," for example. Playback features, such as pause, play or skip, are also recognised. For those that like to skip adverts on recorded shows, you'll be able to say "skip forward 2 minutes" or the like, and hope to bypass them.
Sky, as you might expect, hasn't gone as far as introducing a "skip ads" command just yet though.
Customers will also be able to change accessibility settings using only their voice by saying such commands as "turn on audio description".
Sky Q customers will need the Sky Q touch remote for the new features to work. You must press and hold the voice command button on the side of the remote before barking your order.
Sky Q voice controls to try
- "Go to my recordings".
- "Go to new series".
- "Go to Sky Store'' or other key areas of the Sky Q Guide like "Sky Cinema".
- "Skip 10 minutes" (or any time required).
- "Go to 60 minutes" (or any time required).
- "Play…" (plus specific content in your recordings).
- "Subtitles on/off".
- "Audio description on/off".
- "Pause/play/stop/rewind x12" (or x2, x6, x30).
- "Change channel to …" (channel name).
- Name of a movie, TV show, genre, actor or director.
- Movies with a specific age rating, star rating or actor. For example, "action movies with Tom Cruise", "kids movies rated U" and "comedy movies rated five stars".
- Sports, sports team, or sporting event on a particular day, competition or tournament such as "Live cricket on this weekend" or "Liverpool game".
- A collection of famous movie quotes. For example, "you can't handle the truth", "you had me at hello," "my precious" and "Houston, we have a problem".
- TV channel to see what's on now and coming on later. For example, "what's on Sky Atlantic tonight".
Sky Q software update - other new features: Favourites and UHD hub
Improvements to favourites are also rolling out as part of the version 5 software update. The Sky Q service will now suggest a range of favourite channels based on what the household has been watching. And customers can edit the list easily, adding up to a whopping 99 channels which can be organised into whatever order suits them best.
They will be numbered 1 to 99, so if you don't want to ask for them by a voice command you can type in the number you are after. Finally, BBC One HD can be channel 1 again, BBC Two HD channel 2, etc. It's like we're back in the good old days.
Meanwhile, for Sky Q customers with a 2TB box, they will now get a dedicated showcase area within the My Q area to highlight 4K (UHD) movies, TV shows and sport.
Sky Q 4K HDR
While the TV manufacturers like Samsung and LG, and content providers like Netflix, Amazon and Apple have all embraced HDR and Dolby Vision on their set top boxes, Sky is still to reveal when, and even if, it will look to offer HDR content on the Sky Q platform.
When Pocket-lint asked, Sky's director of TV experience, David Cameron, would only go as far as saying that it wasn't the "right time" for the technology.