Amazon comes with a third generation Alexa Voice Remote, and it includes some unwelcome new buttons that take you to the Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu apps. If you are one of the people who subscribes to and regularly uses all the exact streaming services, this remote control can be a nice upgrade. But for everyone else, the buttons will only add friction and irritation to the Fire TV control experience.
We here on The Verge have talked about why we do not like these buttons before. They turn the remote into a canvas for permanent advertising for services you may not even use, and they take up space that can be used for buttons that take you to services you do use. If, for example, you do not subscribe to Disney Plus or Hulu, then the buttons are useless for you at best and at worst waiting to be pressed accidentally, so you can exit an app that asks you to subscribe. .
The obvious option is to assign the buttons to the services you use and not permanently brand them. If the remote control instead came with four buttons you could use to open your favorite streaming services, this would be a whole different story. Alas, it is not. But hey, now the voice control button is an Alexa button for even more branding! (I will admit that this is not so bad, considering that it was already called Alexa Voice remote control.)
I do not want to make it sound like some annoying buttons (which may actually be useful to some people) are the end of the world, or that this new remote has no redemptive features. There’s actually a new button that takes you to a “guide” that shows you a wired timeline with all the content available from the live providers you have, such as Sling, Hulu or YouTube TV.
Unlike brands, it is small and not in color, so it is easy to ignore it if you do not need it (and it will not be as prone to accidental printing). I just wish remote manufacturers would let us choose the features we want on our remote controls, especially since the streaming service landscape is constantly changing and people have been subscribing to one service for a few months and then switching to another.