Amazon’s Fire TV platform was launched in response to Google’s Chromecast. Its first device was an HDMI dongle, but it quickly outgrew that form, expanding to a more traditional set-top box and eventually to actual TVs. Smart TVs powered by Fire TV are still far and few in between, but now they’re getting two of the most coveted features for any smart TV: Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support.
Apple is notoriously stingy when it comes to letting other platforms access much-prized features. Of course, that works great for locking consumers into its hardware and software ecosystem, but it isn’t always a smart strategy. Apple has recently been expanding its presence on its rivals’ platforms, like allowing AirPlay 2 and HomeKit to be supported on non-Apple devices.
Amazon’s announcement is big news on two accounts. First is that AirPlay 2 and HomeKit aren’t exactly available in many Android-based smart TVs, making this one of the exceptions. The other is that Apple and Amazon, just like Amazon and Google, have been at odds over their clashing business interests, but this serves as proof of the two companies mending fences.
With AirPlay 2 support, owners of iPhones, iPads, and HomePods will be able to “throw” their media content to a Toshiba or an Insignia UHD Fire TV. HomeKit support, on the other hand, enables Siri or supported devices to control the Fire TVs using the Apple Home app. The latter requires registering the smart TV as a HomeKit accessory first.
These two much-coveted Apple features are available only on the 2020 Toshiba 4K UHD Smart Fire TV with Dolby Vision and the 2020 Insignia 4K UHD Smart Fire TV. Like any other smart TV platform, that requires downloading and installing the update. Amazon has given no word whether other Toshiba and Insignia Fire TV models will get the same features eventually.