Application for Fire TV Developed in Mautilus

18. April 2014

Recently, we have created another application for Amazon Fire TV, so time has come for us to introduce this device in detail.

Ten years after Microsoft came up with WebTV (MSN TV), Apple followed suit by introducing their own streaming box (Apple TV), prompting Google to join the crowd shortly afterwards, first with Google TV, which turned out to be a flop, later on with Chromecast, and finally with a TV platform running on the Android operating system called Android TV. Out of these three trademarks, Apple has proved to be the most successful, and despite the company’s relative lack of interest in this segment of business (hardly any innovation, no SDK), the box steadily brings in over a billion dollars every year.

Amazon balanced the accounts by introducing the polished Fire TV streaming box running on the Android 4.2 operating system, which, on top of being a media player also doubles up as a microconsole, all for a mere 99 dollars.

Fire TV comes in a very convenient size of 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.7″ (115 mm x 115 mm x 17.5 mm), which provides enough room for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core CPU (1.7 GHz, the Adreno 320 GPU) with 2 GB RAM and 8GB internal flash memory.

However, Amazon doesn’t stop there and has already released a much smaller HDMI stick which comes in a mere 3.3 x 1.0 x 0.5 in. (84.9 x 25.0 x 11.5 mm). The small space manages to accommodate a still sufficient dual-core Cortex A9 CPU integrated in the Broadcom broad (for more detail, see Device and Platform Specifications), all for a mere 39 dollars, making it a worthy competitor to Google’s Chromecast device, and, above all, to Rok TV, at least as far as the US is concerned.

The biggest advantage of Fire TV (compared to ‘classic’ smart TVs) lies in its polished firmware, unproblematic, seamless and fast operation, intuitive environment and, especially, the Bluetooth remote control addition, which was brilliant thinking from the part of Amazon. If, like us, you ever become addicted to “Into the Dead”, you will be forced to admit that Amazon’s remote control is more convenient than its rival developed by Apple, and miles ahead of Google’s complicated gadgets, not to mention the Chinese devices which are more about struggling with the infrared receiver than actual control. However, we do recommend putting off the installation of games on Fire TV until the development of your application is complete, otherwise you may end up spending more time coding than you’ve bargained for :). For the more picky gamers, there is the option of getting the classic game controllers – up to four of these can then be connected to one Fire TV.

Voice control is another speciality, thanks to which you only really need to use the keyboard when entering the WiFi password. Unfortunately, autocomplete has so far been enabled only to Amazon’s partners and is not open for other developers.

Both Fire TV devices run on the Amazon Fire OS 3.0, based on the Jelly Bean Android OS (API Level 17). Amazon provides their own SDK to developers, which makes development easier. When developing, the important thing is to take into account the different ways of control (D-PAD) and to comply with the general TV design patterns – for more information, see Google TV Design Patterns.

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