Fire TV pushes Prime to fore post-Android TV unveil

Chris Davies - Jun 30, 2014
Fire TV pushes Prime to fore post-Android TV unveil

Amazon has quietly updated its Fire TV set-top box to push its Prime video content as well as bring streaming music to the platform, raising its game in the aftermath of Google announcing Android TV. A revamp over the weekend added Amazon Cloudplayer to the supported services for Fire TV, as well as answering a common complaint by making it easier to find Prime movie and TV content that’s free to watch for Prime subscribers.

Previously, Fire TV for the most part mixed in all of its Prime content with other on-demand streaming. In movies and TV it was possible to see recent Prime additions, but in the main view only a small corner badge differentiated such content from paid options.

Meanwhile, Amazon Music has now been added to the box, allowing those who store their MP3s in Amazon’s cloud to stream them directly to their TV. If you’ve ever bought an MP3 track from Amazon, you’ll automatically have a copy of it stored to the cloud, for instance; content can be searched through using the voice system integrated into Fire TV’s remote control.

However still absent is Amazon Prime Music support, the on-demand streaming service announced earlier this month just ahead of the Fire Phone, and which bundles around a million tracks into Prime subscriptions.

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The final change in the new firmware is Amazon FreeTime, the company’s subscription-based service for children previously available on Kindle Fire tablets. It includes videos, apps, and other content that has been classified as age-appropriate for younger users, rather than letting them run riot among the general catalog.

It’s hard not to see Amazon’s timing as related to last week’s announcement of Android TV at Google I/O. The new platform – Google’s second attempt at the living room – also supports voice search but focuses on Google’s own content, such as Google Play purchases or YouTube streaming. However, unlike Amazon Prime, Google currently lacks a subscription-based all-you-can-eat video option, something its retail rival now seems keen to highlight.

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