Amazon announces list of new Fire TV features — USB storage, Bluetooth Audio, Shortcuts Menu, and more

fire-tv-box-and-stick-update
Amazon has today officially announced and acknowledged the upcoming Fire TV and Fire TV Stick update. My sources were spot on with their information about the upcoming addition of USB storage and Bluetooth audio support. Read on for a full list of what Amazon says is included in the next software update, plus a few features not on their list that I can now reveal.

New features mentioned in Amazon’s announcement

Expandable USB storage on Amazon Fire TV

You can now use a connected USB mass storage device to expand your Fire TV storage for downloaded apps and games—this enables you to have more games downloaded for easy access. -Amazon

Just as I reported, you will be able to install apps and games onto an external USB storage drive. This also confirms that the feature is only coming to the Fire TV and not the Fire TV Stick.

Connect to your hotel or dorm room Wi-Fi with captive portal support

Take your favorite movies, TV shows, games, and more with you away from home—Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are the first streaming media devices to enable you to connect to Wi-Fi that requires web authentication—this includes Wi-Fi at most major hotels, as well as some universities. -Amazon

This feature has been promised since the Fire TV Stick was announced back in October and now it has finally arrived. Due to the lack of a browser on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, you currently cannot connect to wireless access points which require you to agree to terms or login through a website. The next update will fix that shortcoming. This likely means the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick now have a hidden web browser which we may be able to use for other purposes.

Private listening on Fire TV

Enjoy favorite movies and TV shows after the kids go to sleep, without worrying about waking them up. Support for wireless Bluetooth headphones to Fire TV lets you listen to your movie, TV show, or music without bothering others in your household. -Amazon

My sources were again spot on with this one. This is, sadly, confirmation that Bluetooth audio will not be available on the Fire TV Stick.

Browse and search Prime Playlists

Prime members can now take advantage of hand-crafted Prime Music playlists directly from Fire TV and Fire TV Stick—there are hundreds of expertly curated Prime Playlists to choose from based on your mood, activity or even artist or decade of choice. -Amazon

I’m told this means voice search will now work for Prime Music playlists that you’ve added.

Hidden PIN entry

With the new PIN entry screen that hides the numbers selected, you can now make sure your kids (or freeloading friends) can’t see your device PIN as you enter it on-screen to confirm a purchase on Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. -Amazon

Nothing much to say here. This is a way to enter your PIN using the remote without using an onscreen keyboard.

New shortcuts

Quickly put your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick to sleep or enable display mirroring by pressing and holding the Home button on your remote. -Amazon

Holding down the remote’s Home button will cause a new hidden menu to appear. The menu is coming to both the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. From this menu you will be able to put the device to sleep, enable screen mirroring, and jump directly into the full settings menu. Also in this menu will be something that has long been missing from the Fire TV’s homescreen: the current time.

EXCLUSIVE: New features NOT mentioned in Amazon’s announcement

Expanded Bluetooth peripheral support

My sources tell me the addition of Bluetooth audio also includes the added support for bluetooth keyboards and a wider selection of third party Bluetooth game controllers.

Fast Forward the intro video

With this new update is finally the ability to skip the intro video that plays during the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick’s initial setup. If you factory reset your device often, you’ll know how welcome this little addition is.

ADB over USB for the Fire TV

There will be a new option in the settings menu that allows you to enable ADB over USB. When this feature is enabled, you will not be able to use the USB port for expanded storage.

Improvements to Speech Recognition

I’m told by my sources at Amazon that speech recognition has been improved with this update and it’s more accurate than ever.

Ability to push updates to system apps

Amazon has added into the new update the ability to push updates to system apps, like the appstore and video player, without the need of a full over-the-air software update.

UpdateAmazon Press Release

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75 comments
  1. matt says:

    time for some new pre-rooted firmware action….

  2. rahlquist says:

    I wonder with the changes to USB if it will be possible to add a USB Ethernet adapter to the stick.

  3. CG says:

    I’m hoping this will give bluetooth controller support to PS3 Dual Shock 3.

    • Z says:

      I doubt it, even standard android isn’t supporting the PS3 controller (and it’s proprietary protokol) without rooting.

  4. Mark says:

    Is this update currently available to install?

  5. Malcolm 4000 says:

    Are we able to do the update without losing side-loaded apps / Kodi etc? thank you

  6. Edgar says:

    Do you have a source on the announcement?

    • AFTVnews says:

      Sorry about that. I’ve added the source to the bottom of the post now. The source for the announced features is an Amazon Press release. The sources for the exclusive information are trusted individuals who have confirmed their credibility to me but wish to remain anonymous.

      • Craig says:

        Any news on Windows 8.1 Mira-cast support? Sure wish those sources would say something about the Fire Phone. It needs updating badly.

  7. JP says:

    USB Storage….
    This is great news. Is there a particular drive that would work best? Or can any be used equally?

    • AFTVnews says:

      An SSD in an external enclosure will work best, but that’s pricey. Regular spinning hard drives and flash drives should be sufficient, but you may experience longer load times for apps running off of those types of drives.

        • seth says:

          if i buy an enclosure for my ssd, do i need to get one that is powered or can they run off the usb power from the fire tv?

          also i think i read somewhere that you can’t use a powered usb hub with the fire tv?

          • Bruce says:

            If you are only using the USB port for a single directly connected external drive you MIGHT be able to get away without a powered enclosure, but I believe the Fire TV USB port is rated for a max 500ma of current so I would not recommend it. I can confirm from experience that a non-powered USB drive — I tried a 1TB HDD, 256GB SSD AND 64GB SD card reader — through a non-powered USB hub does not work. I replaced the USB hub with a powered hub and all three drives I tried worked. I settled on using the 256GB SSD.

            I use the USB hub because I also have the Logitech K400 keyboard connected.

  8. Axe says:

    ADB over USB for the Fire TV… Does that sound fishy to anyone else? Wouldn’t keeping root also keep the ADB-over-USB access with or without expanded storage (presuming full bootloader unlock)?

  9. Dave D says:

    What file format will the USB drive need to be formatted to? NTFS or FAT32? Will it except pretty much any USB flash drive? Up to what capacity?

  10. chrysss says:

    Kodi already reads external USB drive. I have pre-rooted firmware installed.

    So, what would be the benefit of this support for USB drive to us that have Kodi rooted firmware installed already?

  11. chrysss says:

    BLUETOOTH AUDIO-

    In theory this is good but in reality, bluetooth has latency and thus when you are watching a video, you can never sync audio and video together. You’d hear audio a second or so after corresponding video has already played.

    • Neogeo71 says:

      I am sure Amazon has taken this into consideration. I know it was an issue with sideloading settings.apk and using it to pair bluetooth, but I would bet Amazon has dealt with the offset of audio by syncing the video to match. I an very hopeful this works as I love the headphone jack on my Roku 3’s that are being replaced by Amazon Fire TV’s.

      • Neogeo71 says:

        So I was able to test this tonight. Netflix and Amazon Prime were spot on, no issues. Plex has audio sync issues. I would imagine this will get sorted with an update. I will post on Plex forum as well. I am a premium customer of Plex. I will test Kodi and report back.

        • Neogeo71 says:

          Update: Tested with Kodi. Kodi needed to offset audio ahead by 1sec exactly. I would imagine this is same with Plex. It would be nice if Kodi could recognize the audio source and make adjustment on the fly but I can live with manually setting the offset when i want to watch with headphones. Would love to hear a Dev’s take on what it takes to resolve this issue..

        • Ryan says:

          Has anyone figured out how to fix the audio syncing issues in Kodi? The new firmware has great bluetooth headset support on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, even YouTube but in Kodi there is a significant lag.

    • benjitek says:

      The Bluetooth audio and video >are< quite a bit out of sync on my new FireTV — huge disappointment, wasn't expecting this from a new product. Odd though, was it's the video that lags behind the audio. In the past, I've read that Bluetooth latency can cause a delay, but with audio being what lags.

      Hopefully it'll be fixed in a future firmware update :-(

  12. TaGi says:

    Does this mean that we can use USB HDD to play movies over KODI?
    If yes, then we’re better off without rooting…

    • awdahelwidit says:

      You can already do that if rooted. Also, you can pretty much bet that anything getting added to a stock image will also be available on custom prerooted builds.

      Better off unrooted? Never. That is like a slave saying “to hell with freedom. Take me back to massa’s food an shelter”

  13. Squeegie says:

    What impact does this have for those of us that have rooted our Fire TVs? I assume any attempt to update to this latest version would nullify our root, correct?

    • awdahelwidit says:

      Obviously if you wish to keep root; wait for a new rooted image in the week following this release.

      • Dave says:

        What are the chances of that occurring, though? Is it in any way assured that a rooted image of this new firmware will be forthcoming?

        • matt says:

          I’d say the chances are ‘guaranteed’ …. just wait a few days and i’m sure it will be posted here on aftvnews or on the xda forums.

  14. Mickey Moose says:

    I was really hoping that they would introduce Amazon Prime Music Radio Stations to the Fire TVs as they did with the IOS app recently.

  15. Joe Mama says:

    I wonder if we’ll still see all running apps in the home button menu. Having settings there will be nice for when Kodi locks up and I need to force stop and reopen, but I like being able to switch between running apps with the home button.

  16. Sdub says:

    When will we get a Universal Search API??? I want to search my Plex library with Voice Search! Beat Apple to the punch!

  17. hdmkv says:

    Good updates by Amazon, especially USB storage expandability.

  18. Tupo says:

    FAT32 only, therefore will not support files over 4gb :(

  19. McChen says:

    I must be one of the lucky 5%! Got home from work and the update was ready to install. Just updated it and am poking around now.

    • McChen says:

      I can confirm that Display Mirroring does work now with Windows 8.1. However, I was only able to duplicate the screen, when I tried to extend the display, the display stream froze.

      • McChen says:

        the navigation “click” sound is also a lot louder, i could barely hear it before. now it is a good medium level.

        all the rest of the features are there as described. There is a new category to add “other” bluetooth devices, which it says are keyboards, mice and audio.

        I see now there is a storage listing for free space on external storage.

        A whole bunch of playlist categories are in the prime music area.

        long pressing the home button brings up a menu that you can pick sleep, display mirroring, or settings. It does display the time as well.

        • ks says:

          does media work through usb?

          • McChen says:

            when you insert a usb storage device, it tells you that xx amount of GB is available for app installs. So it appears it is primarily for apps and not for media. If there is media on the device, there is no way to access it from the native fire tv interface. I’m guessing a 3rd party app might be able to play media off the device.

            the first time i inserted a usb storage device, it would not recognize it until i rebooted. also, when i removed the device, I got a message saying “unexpected usb removal” and to use the “devices card in settings to remove”. however, there is no devices card in settings?

            also, it appears others were right in that it has to be fat32. I tried an ex-fat sd card and a message pops up and says the card needs to be fat32 to work and offers to reformat it for you.

  20. anthony says:

    does it effected (nullified) our root?

  21. MK says:

    I have a rooted TV version and it did not recognize external HDs that have version 2.0 USB. As soon as i change to a newer usb 3.0 enclosure, it recognize right away. I hope this will help others. FAT32 and NTFS did not matter.

  22. Ashley says:

    But crap the usb won’t read media!

  23. MK says:

    On my rooted FireTV, I use KODI to play media from the external HD just fine. I store my games, music and other media files as well. It works seamlessly and very fast no lag at all. I’m using a WD MyPassport 2TB portable HD. No power adapter needed. I hope this helps others.

    I’m really curios about the capabilities of external HD on non-rooted devices. Please post if you have any info.

  24. Jack says:

    Interesting update. I have the stick. I use Kodi on it to play movies stored on my PC. But I’m running out of room, so I’m considering buying the set top box. But, I’m not sure about something. Does the box version have to be rooted to take advantage of this update? If I buy the box, will I be able to connect a USB hard drive to it and use Kodi to play movie files stored on it?

  25. Steve says:

    Will this update include support for AC3 and DTS through Plex??

  26. Dave D says:

    Any idea how large a usb device capacity it will except? 32gb, 64gb, 128gb, etc.? Will you be able to play games stored on the device or would it run too slow I wonder?

  27. Peter says:

    Yup, it plays so far off the usb in kodi, tested MP4 and MP3.. result.. it also says usb 3 for max performance and hard drives not supported..

  28. KJ says:

    *WARNING* This will reset your stick to default settings. I lost side loaded apps and all the official apps had to be re-downloaded. Also any TV apps i.e. Watch Disney, etc. will need to reauthorized. I am very unhappy with amazon for this.

  29. Peter says:

    VLC off the amazon store, plays the files off the USB, if you don’t want or need kodi..

  30. Freemymediahd says:

    What about vpn will you be able to sort something out that works from sub installed app

  31. Michael says:

    Can I hook the fire stick up to my ps3?

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