Amazon upgrades Fire TV interface
James R | On 19, Dec 2016
Amazon has upgraded its Fire TV box with a slick new interface.
The update for the Fire TV with 4K UHD box presents users with a completely redesigned interface that makes finding what to watch next fast, easy and enjoyable. Video trailers and content screenshots right on the home screen help customers quickly access the content they want, without the need to open and close apps.
The new home screen shows off prominent featured content via a cinematic feature rotator in the top half of the screen. Through the rotator, customers can see large, detailed images of new or current shows alongside content trailers from Amazon Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and others. Customers have the ability to scroll through up to seven different options on the feature rotator at any time, and click directly through to any content or app that catches their eye.
New detail pages for content across applications are more visual, with a new hero image and a new buy-box. These detail pages catalogue content from different services, which allows customers to watch, rent or buy content in both Amazon Video and non-Amazon apps.
New rows allow customers stay within a couple of clicks of the content and apps that matter to them. Instead of only recent apps appearing, customers can create a customisable apps list by pinning their content to a new ‘My Apps & Games’ row, which is permanently fixed on the home page for easy access.
Accessibility enhancements also enable customers with hearing or visual impairments to enjoy more Fire TV functionality. The VoiceView screen reader includes settings such as Reading Speed and Speech Volume. While navigating movies and TV shows, after a short pause, VoiceView will speak details about the selected item such as the rating, length, and description. Pressing the Menu button to speak orientation text and usage hints for the current screen will help them navigate the new interface.
The redesign will be rolled out to the Fire TV Stick and the first generation Fire TV box in early 2017.
Amazon Fire TV voice search now includes Netflix
7th September 2016
Amazon has expanded its Fire TV voice search to include Netflix and a host of other apps.
Voice search was one of the Fire TV box and Fire TV Stick’s biggest selling points when it was first launched, with users able to speak into their remote to find content to stream – and, in a clever twist from the norm, it actually working. Support for the voice search was limited, though, with it only really covering Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Prime Video titles, as well as the names of apps installed on the device.
Now, Amazon has rolled out its universal voice search to more than 75 apps and channels. Top of the list? Netflix.
A free, over-the-air software update currently being delivered to customers will automatically update Fire TV boxes and sticks, allowing customers to find content on Amazon’s SVOD rival – and, in the US, on HBO GO and (soon) HBO NOW.
If a TV show or movie is available on multiple apps, Fire TV will now display viewing options – watch, stream, rent, or purchase.
The FIre TV homepage has also added personalised recommendations in custom rows on the Fire TV home page for particular services.
It’s not just voice search Amazon is beefing up, though: Alexa voice control for Amazon Video has also been added. Using their voice, Alexa lets users advance or go back in a video any amount of time they specify, whether that’s “skip ahead 2 minutes” or “rewind 30 seconds”. “Next” will skip straight to the next episode.
Saying “give me my sports update” will also display the latest scores and game info from users’ favourite sports teams – that can be chosen under Settings on the Alexa app.
“Customers have told us they love having access to the wide selection of apps, games, and Alexa skills on Amazon Fire TV, and they love how easy it is to find their favorite shows with universal voice search,” says Marc Whitten, Vice President, Amazon Fire TV. “Now, we’re making it easier than ever for customers to find their favorite content with universal voice search across 75 apps and channels, and a new, simple way to see recommendations from Netflix, HBO GO, and HBO NOW right on the home screen.”