New Fire TV Menu puts movies and shows (not apps) front and center
Amazon Fire TV is about to get its biggest makeover in years.
The end result should mean that you’ll spend less time going from one streaming app to the next in search of something new to watch.
The new software update is called the “All-New Fire TV Experience”. It has been on the new Fire TV Lite, and third-generation Fire TV Stick since December. More Fire TV devices are expected to get the update in March.
The Fire TV home screen will aggregate movies and TV shows from Hulu, Netflix and others. The new “Live” section puts the Fire TV’s channel guide front and center. (The channel guide is currently buried with the Fire TV’s Live tab.)
The new Find tab will enable you to quickly free movies and shows from platforms such as tubi and Pluto TV, or filter by genre. And putting profiles at the top of the menu means everyone in a household can have their own personalized recommendations for movies and shows.
Living in a world where it takes fewer clicks to find something to watch is a nice idea. But don’t expect Amazon to be the only streamer competing in the fewest clicks contest.
Google TV is already there…Is Roku next?
Google’s newest version of Chromecast back in September came with a refreshed version of Android TV software called Google TV.
Google TV makes recommendations from roughly 30 different streaming apps (depending on your subscriptions). The result? Less searching and fewer clicks before you start watching something.
Roku has been promising an overhaul of its home screen since 2018. The Roku Channel, or some version of it, is expected to eventually replace the grid-style home screen, according to the company. But that has yet to happen.
Roku CEO Anthony Wood suggested in a 2019 interview with Alta that Roku is working on a system where customers could have a central hub showing them what subscriptions they are paying for.
“Yes, that would be awesome,” Wood said in response to a question about a central hub. “In fact, it’s a direction we’re heading. It’s harder than you might think. There are all these different companies…”
Is live TV on the way from Amazon?
The new Fire TV interface gives the Live TV tab a more prominent position on the main menu. The decision raises a new question the company’s ambitions in the streaming world. Is Amazon inching closer to its own live TV service?
The channel guide already combines a number of subscription-based live TV streaming services alongside free apps such as Pluto TV and tubi. Customers with a Fire TV Recast can add local, over-the-air channels to the guide as well.
One thing seems certain. The streaming world is only going to get bigger, not smaller.
There has been an avalanche of streaming services — both free and subscription-based — in the last year and a half.
For every Disney+ and Peacock seeking out subscribers, there is a growing army of free, ad-supported options such as tubi, XUMO and Amazon’s IMDb TV. Free services have been beefing up its offerings with live TV channels and around-the-clock news channels.
These free streaming apps are owned by some of the big players in streaming. Pluto TV is owned by ViacomCBS. Tubi is owned by FOX Corporation. And XUMO is owned by Xfinity.
While that’s created an unrivaled alternative for cable TV and satellite providers, the glut of movies and TV shows has created a First World problem for people.
How do you make it easy for people to navigate an overwhelming library of movies and TV shows?
Ease of use, integration and aggregation is becoming a focus for streaming device makers in 2021. Subscription fatigue is fiction. The real problem is figuring out how to make the most of what you’ve got.
Jim Kimble is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016.
Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. You can follow Jim on LinkedIn, YouTube and at X at @james_kimble