Amazon TVs will now do Zoom calls – but you’ll need one crucial piece of kit

Video calls are coming to your living room thanks to a new partnership between Amazon and Zoom.

The video conferencing giant has revealed that its platform will now be available on Amazon Fire TV sets just in time for family calls over Christmas.

The Fire TV Omni Series will let users start and join Zoom meetings, with users in the US and Canada able to enjoy the service from today.

Webcams essential

Amazon revealed its first own-branded Fire TV sets in September 2021, looking to target customers looking for more affordable hardware.

Zoom was mentioned as one of the initial apps set to be bundled with the devices, however it has been missing until now – marking the first time the company has released an app for a smart TV.

However, as there is no camera built in to the TVs themselves – you'll need to get a webcam to actually be able to carry out any Zoom calls.

Luckily, Amazon has some ideas on what webcams you can use – namely, any of the Logitech C920, C922x or C310 (although it does say any webcam offering “720p-1080p” should be compatible).

Once you're all set up, the Zoom app can be downloaded from the Fire TV Appstore, and accessed with your usual logins.

If you've got your microphone turned on, you can use Alexa to join a zoom meeting with the command “Alexa, join my zoom meeting.”

Amazon notes that the Zoom app will only use audio from your TV speakers,  meaning that users won't be able to pair with a soundbar or speakers just yet.

The news comes shortly after Zoom doubled down on its pledge to stick around even after the pandemic has ended. The company said it can play an important role in the post-pandemic world, mainly through helping facilitate and encourage hybrid working as employees look to split their time between the office and a more comfortable home environment.

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Siri is yet to regain crucial accessibility features that disappeared with iOS 15

Apple is still yet to reinstate functionality which was removed in iOS 15, where Siri could perform various tasks such as checking and playing voicemails.

The commands in question are valuable on the accessibility front, with the visually impaired or legally blind – or indeed other Apple device owners – are able to use them to keep on top of their voicemail as mentioned, or to instruct Siri to send an email, check recent calls, or call history.

MacRumors highlighted the functionality which went missing back in September, just after iOS 15 was released, and the site reminds us that these features haven’t been restored to Siri, despite growing complaints around this.

An inaccessible Siri for some

One reader told MacRumors: “For many fully blind people (like my blind mom) this makes their phone almost unusable, because they can’t ask Siri who has called, and they can’t ask Siri if they have voicemail. (Their official ‘workaround’ for voicemail, in fact, is calling the old-school carrier voicemail number, to check your voicemail over the phone.)”

Another message on Apple’s support forum reads: “My cousin who is legally blind is also experiencing this issue. He uses the read missed call and open voicemail when doctors call and leave messages. It allows him the opportunity to hear who called and he can call back. It has been a wonderful feature for him and I’m hoping that a fix will happen so that he can be able to use the feature again.”

There are also complaints on Reddit like this: “My dad is blind and uses Siri to operate a lot of his iPhone. This week we’ve noticed when he asks Siri to play voicemail or missed calls she says she can’t help with that.”

We've reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story once we hear back.

Analysis: Reasons why are unclear – but keep the feedback flowing on this

It’s unclear whether Apple intentionally removed the support for these features with iOS 15 – and if so, why that was done – or if it’s wrapped up in some bug – and if it’s the latter, whether a fix is coming soon. But whatever the case, this represents a worrying step backwards in terms of accessibility for iOS devices, to say the least.

While Apple itself hasn’t commented directly, as MacRumors notes – we’ve also reached out to the company to try and ascertain what’s going on here, and will update this story if we hear back – one message on the Apple help forum claims to have had a reply from the Accessibility Support team. They were advised to again contact Accessibility Support and “have your Apple ID added to the official engineering issue as an ‘affected user’ so that you receive the mass emails about the status of this fix”.

Further advice was to submit feedback on the missing features, as the more of that feedback which is gathered “does affect engineering’s prioritization of this issue”.

There may be hope yet, then, for some kind of return of these capabilities to Siri in the near future. Fingers crossed.

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