Starting this week, Amazon will be rolling out a new design of the interface for its Fire TV media streaming devices and smart TVs. Initially available on the newest Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite, the changes will also start showing up on other Fire TV models in 2021. Here’s a look at what’s changing and how it will impact your viewing experience.
A new home screen
The Fire TV home screen is the first thing you see when you turn on your device, so making the most of this real estate is key to getting a good experience. Previously, it was a bit of a quirky screen to navigate. The main menu options appeared at the very top of the page, but a massive preview and promotions area sat immediately below, forcing users to skip past the big promo space in order to get to their content at the bottom of the screen.
The new experience brings a much-needed cleanup to the presentation, with all menu options now appearing below the promo area. They’re accompanied by quick-launch icons for your favorite streaming apps, which you can change at any time. Curiously, Amazon has decided to kill off its previous main navigation menu options like Your Videos, Movies, TV Shows, and Apps, which have been replaced with Library, Home, Find, and Live. The Settings option lives on, but it’s now represented by a small gear icon at the far right side of the new menu.
Amazon hasn’t said much about which shows and movies will be listed in the space below the new menu, but presumably it’s a curated collection of titles pulled from the services you’re subscribed to (and that are compatible with the Fire TV curation process).
Find more, faster
Selecting Find from the main menu switches the display to the new Find screen. Amazon says it’s designed to make it easy to search and browse by popular categories like movies, TV shows, free ad-supported content, and sports. You can also filter by categories like genre (e.g., comedy, action).
Browsing and searching are two fairly different activities in terms of how information needs to be displayed and how you navigate, so it remains to be seen if this new Find page is actually easier to use than the one it replaces. But from the provided screen shot, it certainly looks cleaner, and that’s a good thing.
Amazon introduced profiles to its Amazon Prime Video service earlier in 2020, and if you’ve ever fired up the Prime Video app on an Apple TV or Roku, you will likely have been asked to pick your profile before entering the main app home screen. That same idea is now available for the entire Fire TV experience. You can create up to six different profiles, and you have the option of designating any or all of them as Kids profiles. Doing so will restrict the content for that profile to Amazon Kids offerings.
Your chosen profile is reflected in the main menu bar at the far left, and clicking on it lets you quickly switch or edit profiles. Profiles help to personalize the Fire TV interface with recommendations, viewing history, watchlists, and preferred settings that are all profile-specific.
Alexa, it’s me
Speaking of profiles, if you opt in, you can set up an Alexa Voice Profile. This lets Alexa recognize your voice, so when you say, “Alexa, switch to my profile,” your Fire TV instantly swaps views, no more button presses needed.
Alexa also gets a few more fun and convenient functions like navigation. “Alexa, go to Live TV,” or “Alexa, go to News” are both quick ways to get the content you want. Amazon says that there’s also a new Alexa Explore option accessible from the main menu, but we haven’t been able to figure out exactly how to access it. Supposedly, it lets you access info that’s powered by Alexa, like weather forecasts, stocks, news headlines, and more. It will also be the place where you can view and access your smart home devices.
We’ll be getting our hands, eyes, and voices on the new Fire TV experience soon, and we’ll be back as soon as we can with our first impressions.
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