Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick on sale in the UK and Japan

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Amazon devices are currently on sale in the UK and Japan. The Fire TV Stick is on sale for £29.99 in the UK and ¥3,980 in Japan. The Fire TV is on sale for £64.99 in the UK and ¥10,380 in Japan. Additionally, the Fire 7″ tablet is on sale in the UK for £39.99 and the Fire HD 10 tablet is on sale in the UK for £139.99. Germany and Austria’s Amazon sites don’t have any of these devices on sale, which is a bit odd since all three international sites tend to have sales in unison.

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Fire TV and Voice Remote stock instability hint at new devices

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The Amazon Fire TV has had some supply instability recently, which is likely an indication that new hardware is on the horizon. The Fire TV went out of stock as a result of the Prime Day sale in July. It didn’t come back in stock until earlier this week. All of Amazon’s other devices that went out of stock after Prime Day were back in stock within 2 weeks. Today, the Fire TV Voice Remote just went out of stock, for the first time ever, with an expected return date of Spetember 16th. The Fire TV’s long hiatus, and the Voice Remote’s sudden shortage, is a good indicator that both will likely be replaced soon. What’s most surprising though, is the Fire TV Stick’s supply stability. Read more ›

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Post your Questions & Topics for tomorrow’s AFTVnewscast 52

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I’ll be live streaming this week’s episode of the AFTVnewscast, at this link here, tomorrow at 1:30pm PT, as I do most Friday. Post your questions or topics in the comments below for me to answer and discuss during the episode. Anything goes for questions, whether it’s about the Fire TV, AFTVnews, or tech in general. Let’s hear them! Even if you can’t watch live, ask your question now and catch the episode on YouTube later.

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Expanded developer options now allow Alexa Skills to stream audio

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Amazon has expanded the feature set available to Alexa Skill developers to include the ability to stream audio. Prior to this additions, developers could only include short audio clips in their Alexa Skills. This was used most commonly for intro sounds and short sound effects within games. The ability to stream audio and control streaming audio playback opens Alexa enabled devices to a new bread of Alexa Skills. Theoretically, a streaming music service could build an Alexa Skill that grants access to the service’s entire library. Prior to this change, streaming services needed to be integrated into Alexa’s default abilities, like when Spotify arrived on the Amazon Echo, but now it will require much less integration.

Live streaming audio is also now supported, so any live content provider, like a radio station, can build a dedicated Alexa Skill for their stream, instead of relying on services like TuneIn to stream their content. Similarly, you can probably expect to see Alexa Skills for individual podcasts released in the coming months. These should provide a better user experience than requesting podcasts from services like iHeartRadio.

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Amazon original movie ‘Elvis & Nixon’ now available on Prime Video

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Amazon’s original movie Elvis & Nixon is now available on Prime Video. This is Amazon’s largest box office movie to date and they’re bringing it to Prime members just 4 months after its theatrical release. Amazon’s other two movies, Chi-Raq and Creative Control, made their way to Prime Video 3 months and 2 months after their big screen premiere, so it seems like the more popular the movie, the longer Amazon leaves it in theaters. Still, a 4 month turn round from theater to streaming is far shorter than the 10 month average it usually takes movies to come to streaming services.

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New NVIDIA Shield remote passes through the FCC

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Just one day after a new NVIDIA Shield Game Controller made an appearance at the FCC, there is now a new NVIDIA Shield Remote to go with it. The game controller could be dismissed as not enough evidence of a new Shield TV, since NVIDIA’s tablets and other devices can use game controllers, but a Shield remote is really only intended to be used with a Shield TV, so seeing a new one emerge is pretty strong evidence a new Shield TV is on the way. As mentioned in my article about the game controller, there’s a decent chance a new Shield TV might not be much different hardware wise from the existing Shield TV, since the current model likely still has enough power to be on par with whatever the new generation of streaming boxes have to offer. Read more ›

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Fire TV update 5.2.1.1 contains new “Not In My House” system app for more sophisticated app blocking

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As I continue dissecting Fire TV and Fire TV Stick software update 5.2.1.1, I’ve discovered a new system app dedicated to disabling blacklisted apps that Amazon doesn’t want installed. The app is humorously named “Not In My House” and has a package name of com.amazon.tv.nimh. When Amazon first introduced an app blacklist in software version 5.0.5.1, and used it to disable FireStarter and FiredTV Launcher, it was done in a very rudamentary manner. The two blocked apps were hardcoded into the Fire TV’s settings app, which is why it was easy to circumvent the block by changing FireStarter’s package name, which is what FireStopper’s developer did. The new app blocking mechanism introduced with this latest software update is more sophisticated. Read more ›

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New NVIDIA Shield Controller passes through the FCC

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The “FCC Season” that precedes the holiday shopping seasons seems to be in full swing. Yesterday we saw the first of Amazon’s new tablets appear in the FCC’s filings, and now a new NVIDIA Shield Controller has made an appearance. This new controller carries model number P2920 and FCC ID number VOB-P2920. These values are very similar to the current NVIDIA Shield TV Controller, which has a model number of P2570, so this may be the new controller for a new NVIDIA Shield TV. The FCC filing doesn’t reveal much, but it does indicate the new controller uses Bluetooth instead of Wifi direct, like the existing model does. This is likely because the new controller does not appear to have a headphone jack anymore. Read more ›

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New MarketCast app brings stock market prices to the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick

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It seems like a staple of any connected device these days is the ability to report the weather and stock market prices. While the Fire TV has plenty of weather apps, there haven’t been any stock market apps, that is, until now. MarketCast just arrived in the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick appstore to fulfill your real-time stock price needs. It’s a simple app that has you search for a stock which you can then add to one of three home screen rows. You don’t have to know the exact stock symbol, since the search does a decent job of figuring out which stock you want by company name. One nice touch is it displays the each stock’s current price on the search screen, so you don’t have to actually add a stock to your portfolio to quickly see the price. The app uses Amazon’s integrated login system to store your saved portfolio in the cloud so you can call it up on any Fire TV you own without having to reconfigure the app each time.

MarketCast updates stock prices every minute and also displays the current day’s dollar and percentage change. Selecting to see a stock’s info in full screen doesn’t really reveal any additional information, so you’ll basically just be sticking to the home screen. It would have been nice to see a graph of the stock’s historical price, but perhaps that will be added in a future update. The app is supposed to also show related stocks when selecting to see a stock’s details, but it didn’t seem to be working when I tried the app. The app is available for free for all Fire TV and Fire TV Stick models.

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New Amazon Fire tablet makes FCC appearance

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A new Amazon Fire tablet has just made it through FCC approval. As is always the case, the filing was done under a temporary shell company, in this case Polebridge Port Hole LLC, but this is undoubtedly an Amazon tablet. The tablet carries model number PR53DC and FCC ID 2AETH-1210. Photos of the tablet are being held back due to a confidentiality request, but the testing documents do reveal it has 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi capabilities and Bluetooth v4.1. Also evident is the continued inclusion of a microSD card slot and camera. The lack of 802.11ac WiFi hints that this is likely a replacement for the very popular $49.99 Fire 7″ tablet, since all larger tablets in Amazon’s lineup currently support 802.11ac WiFi. Amazon has historically revealed new tablets in mid-September (see their 2014 and 2015 announcements), so it’s no surprise we’re seeing the first tablet in their new lineup pass through the FCC now.

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