Streaming media dongles like Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick are fantastic options for simple, no-frills video streaming and music listening. That is, of course, unless you live on a college campus or frequent hotels with hostposts that require you to interact with a web page before connecting. But for Fire TV and Fire TV Stick owners, “captive portal anxiety” will soon be a thing of the past – among a slew of other improvements, Amazon’s rolling out support for web-based authentication.
Amazon claims that the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are the first streaming media devices to support so-called captive portals, and should be able to connect to wireless networks at “most major hotels, as well as some universities.” The mechanism in use here won’t be clear until the update hits, but it will most likely rely on a built-in web browser to serve the necessary pages.
Captive portal support isn’t the only enhancement coming to Amazon’s streaming hardware. The other highlight is Bluetooth audio pairing for headphones – like the Roku 3, you’ll be able to listen to media discreetly, a great option for late-night movie watching. However, Bluetooth often has inherent delay, so we’ll be waiting for the update before we get too excited to find out for ourselves if the connection works seamlessly, or creates lip sync issues.
The update’s other additions include USB mass storage for apps and games, a better-concealed PIN entry screen for purchase confirmations, searchable Prime Music Playlists, and new shortcuts for sleep mode and display mirroring.
The new update is free, and is slated to arrive in the coming weeks. In a related announcement, Amazon outlined availability for Fire TV Stick and Fire TV in Germany and the UK – it’s available for pre-purchase today, and will start shipping on April 15.
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