While continuing my disection of the new 18.104.22.168 softwre update for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, I noticed that Amazon had added Linux software libraries necessary to support TV tuners. I initially dismissed it because I assumed it was part of the Android core that Fire OS uses, since Android TV is gaining ground as the operating system for TVs and therefore needs to support tuners. However, now I’m starting to believe the Fire TV may actually be gaining TV tuner support in the future.
The Linux kernel in this new software update, as pointed out to me by rbox, includes Linux DVB components which are used for USB TV tuners. The biggest piece of evidence is a comment in the kernel configuration that says “Linux DVB for tv tuners, needs world read/write to allow amazon apps to configure tuners and display their output.”
The specific mention of “amazon apps” needing to “configure tuners and display their output” is pretty strong evidence that the Fire TV will gain some degree of tuner support. Amazon already sells a Fire TV bundled with an HD antenna, so it makes perfect sense for Amazon to add support for TV tuners to their flagship set-top box. A Linux compatible USB TV tuner can easily be made to work with the Fire TV’s USB port with a bit of added support in the operating system.
Apps, like the recently released DVBLink Theater which streams TV from networked tuners, are already available on the Fire TV. Similar apps that work with a USB tuner connected directly to the Fire TV could find success on the platform.
Another explanation for adding TV tuner support to the Fire TV is the possibility that Amazon will be licensing Fire OS for use as the operating system of TVs, or even releasing their own Fire OS based television. Android TV seems to be having more success as a TV OS than as a set-top box OS. Roku’s CEO recently said the most important part of their business is TV licensing. If we’re on the verge of a TV operating system war, which it’s starting to look like we are, you’d expect Amazon isn’t going to want to be left behind. Adding support for TV tuners to Fire OS would be a necessary first step in converting Fire OS into a TV operating system.
With live streaming support coming to the Fire TV, and now this evidence that TV tuner support is being added, it’s clear Amazon is actively working to incorporate all the various ways customers watch television into Fire TV.