Fire TV software update adds Keyboard Input via Voice within apps, Screen Magnifier, Live NFL, and more

A new software update for all Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and Fire TV Edition television models is starting to roll out to devices. The update carries version number 5.2.6.0 (587444320) and once again unifies all devices in the Fire TV line back onto the same software. The update adds several new features with the most notable one being the option to finally be able to speak into the voice remote’s microphone for text input within apps, instead of using the onscreen keyboard. Other additions include a new screen magnifier, support for Amazon’s upcoming live Thursday Night Football NFL games, and more.

As is the norm with all of Amazon’s Fire TV software updates, this new update is rolling out slowly in stages so most customers likely haven’t received the update yet. Amazon has not listed the update on their official Fire TV Software Updates page yet, but that’s not unusual since Amazon tends to only update that page after the majority of devices have received the update. However, Amazon has already updated their Source Code Notice page with the new software version and has listed the update for all hardware versions, new and old.

The most exciting new feature, which is one that customers have been requesting ever since the first Fire TV debuted in 2014, is the ability to use the microphone on the Voice Remote to input text whenever the system onscreen keyboard appears. The new option works seamlessly across the entire device, including within 3rd-party apps. You just press the microphone button on the voice remote when you see the onscreen keyboard, say words or phrases, and a second later the text field is filled. For those of you with the 1st-gen Fire TV Stick’s non-voice remote, this also works with the Fire TV Remote app.

The only place this doesn’t work, which is to be expected, is within apps that choose to use their own custom keyboard, instead of the default system keyboard. For apps like YouTube and Netflix, which have custom keyboards, you’ll have to continue using the Fire TV’s universal search feature if you want to search for their content using your voice. For other apps that aren’t included in the Fire TV’s universal search and also use a custom keyboard, like MrMC and Kodi, you’re just going to have to continue using their onscreen keyboards.

This new update also adds a new screen magnifier feature to help Fire TV users who have difficulty seeing the smaller text and elements in the device’s interface. With the screen magnifier enabled, users can zoom in and out at will while using the Fire TV. The zoomed window automatically follows the onscreen cursor, but you can also manually pan the window if necessary. The screen magnifier can be enabled from the Accessibility menu in the Fire TV’s settings area, or by holding the BACK and FAST FORWARD buttons on the Fire TV remote.

Amazon purchased the rights for all NFL Thursday Night Football games this year so this update also adds support for watching those games live through any Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, or Fire TV Edition device. This update is required to watch those games and the first game is on September 28th, so you can expect all devices to receive the update by then.

Once your device receives the update, just search for “Thursday Night Football” and a result for the 2017 season will appear with a listing of all upcoming games. The date and start time for each game are listed and you can add any of the games to your watchlist. It also looks like Amazon will provide highlight clips in this new interface once the games have concluded. The games will only be available to Prime members.

A small change that this update also makes is the repositioning of the banner ad in the Fire TV interface. Instead of having the banner at the top, it now appears lower on the screen, below the first two rows of content. On the home screen, this means it is below your list of recent content (not present in the above image) and your list of apps. On some interface screens, like the list of app categories, the banner is now removed altogether. Obviously, I wish the banner ad was not in the interface at all, but the new placement is an improvement because it means you’ll no longer accidentally overshoot the main menu at the top of the screen and end up selecting the banner when you quickly scroll up a screen.

The “What’s New” screen for this update says that “during setup, you can now bulk select and download from a curated set of 24 apps” but it seems like this feature is not yet available. I tried performing a factory reset and did not see any such option during setup. I even tried using an Amazon account that has never registered a Fire TV device, thinking that might trigger the bulk app installation option, but it did not. It’s possible the software knows the difference between a device that is being setup for the first time and one that was being setup due to a factory reset, which would explain why I couldn’t trigger the supposed new feature.

ShareTweetShare+1

54 comments
  1. Craig says:

    Is it really that hard for Amazon to roll out Silk to Fire TV with voice controls, Elias?

    • Jim Carter says:

      I couldn’t agree more! Seems like it should have been added long ago.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Many companies have tried to make a TV interface for the web and failed, so I don’t blame Amazon for taking their time with the Silk Browser for the Fire TV. This latest software update is likely a requirement for the browser since, for the first time, it makes it possible for the mic button on the remote to behave differently depending on what you’re doing at the time. Hopefully, that means the browser is close to release, since the browser appears to uses the mic for loading pages.

    • Elmo says:

      Is it really that hard for the “check for system updates” feature to actually work? I have two FireTV 4K units and one of them has had the new update since September 5th. The other one (which is attached to my actual home theater) is still using 5.2.4.2. It shows NO UPDATE AVAILABLE which is irksome since I know it’s LYING.

      I really need that update on that particular unit since it’s the one connected to an Epson projector with a frame interpolation mode that smooths movement. 24fps output mode is broken on 5.2.4.2, but based on the upstairs unit that has the update with KODI installed, I THINK they just might have fixed it (harder to tell on a plasma without the mode, but the set does work in 24fps and if appears to shift modes again during playback only). The best I can use with 30fps output material if I don’t want sudden judders is LOW (standard/high work smoothly only on 24fps output material like playing a Blu-Ray off my PS4). I’d really like to be able to watch movies with smooth motion playback off KODI once more (switching physical blu-rays/DVDs for over 700 movies is no fun when they’re all available via the server hard drive at a click of the remote button).

  2. Jim says:

    If it unifies all versions including the Element Fire TV does that mean the new version supports OTA Antenna natively like the Element TV does?

    • AFTVnews says:

      No, even though all devices will soon be on the same software version, there will still be some differences. This update does not bring OTA antenna support to the Fire TV box or stick.

  3. Hitcher says:

    Are they ever going to add profiles!

  4. Accidently scroll up and select the banner on the old interface? Why not use the back button to return to the top?

    I bet they moved the banner ad so nobody can use the screen magnifier to avoid the ad completely, because that was my first instinct before even finishing the article.

    Magnification is a poor excuse for small text when they control the entire OS and ecosystem. I’m sure I’ll find a use for it, but it’s a kludge.

  5. Ray says:

    >For other apps that aren’t included in the Fire TV’s universal search and also use a custom keyboard, like MrMC and Kodi, you’re just going to have to continue using their onscreen keyboards.<

    Womp wah. :(

    • AFTVnews says:

      For voice text input to work with 3rd-party custom keyboards, Amazon would need to create a custom API that app developers would then need to update their apps to use. It’s definitely possible and hopefully in the works, but adding voice text input to the default keyboard is a necessary first step.

      Apps that use custom onscreen keyboards usually do it so they can use the same code/app on different platforms (Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, etc). These are precisely the types of apps that would be resistant to implementing a voice text input API specific to the Fire TV, so even if Amazon provided such a feature, I bet it would take a while for apps to adopt it, if they ever did at all. So I don’t blame Amazon for releasing voice input without support for custom onscreen keyboards.

  6. Charlie says:

    Awesome! Voice text input is a huge get in my opinion. Moving the banner will be interesting. Are the games going to free to stream?

  7. Tyler says:

    Does this have to do with fire OS 7 in any way?

    I don’t think we will see a fire OS 7 anytime soon.

    • AFTVnews says:

      This update does not have anything to do with Android 7 as far as I can tell, but I have not captured the update yet to dig into the code. It seems like Amazon is not going to provide a developer preview of the new Fire OS this time.

      Because that one developer caught his apps being tested by Amazon on Android 7, it seems like they’re testing 3rd-party apps with the new OS on their own. The new mid-tier Fire TV coming next month will likely be the first time we see Fire OS 6/7 (whichever they end up calling it).

  8. Hopeful says:

    Now the banner ad is even more obnoxious and in-the-way. Nice!

    • Charlie says:

      I just looked the example pics and I have to agree with you. It appears to me they moved it to make it harder to ignore. I don’t think this is something I am going to like, but what can you do?

  9. Edgar R. says:

    Cord cutter here. Anyone know of way to watch NFL on firetv. Good quality? Willing to pay. But don’t want to pay a ridiculous amount.

    • dan says:

      Either Sling TV with upgraded package. You get ESPN, NFL Network and Redzone channel.

      Or good ol’ Kodi.
      It not always the greatest quality. but I can watch all the games I want.

      • Edgar R. says:

        What addon do you use? Ever since tvaddons left I’ve been struggling to find anything. The new tvaddons still doesn’t have everything up and running like it used to yet.

        • Adam says:

          Don’t disregard a decent antenna on your TV. Last Sunday I was watching games in 720p and 1080i on my local Fox and CBS stations. Obviously ESPN isn’t going to be available, but with my antenna I’ve been able to watch all the football I want on Sundays, and the Superbowls, in crystal clear uncompressed HD. You can’t say that about seeing the games over Kodi plugins.

          Mind you, I’m not above using Kodi plugins, I just wish the people streaming the games didn’t feel this clearly unavoidable need to smear Vaseline over the lens of the camera prior to filming the game…

          • Treymok says:

            They don’t smear vaseline all over the screen. It’s what I call the bum effect. See those streams are pirated, free of charge, and open to everyone. Unfortunately they only have so much bandwidth to work with being free and all so the more cheap bums on the stream the more the bandwidth gets divided amongst the bums and the worse the stream gets. But please tell me more about how they should provide you with a better stream.

          • Kevin Terrance says:

            Smear Vaseline..lol. Clearly some people have no concept of sarcasm or any sense of humor. Good stuff.

          • Adam says:

            I wish I could Treymok, but as I said, I use my antenna, not plugins.

            I just thought my statement would be a funny way to make fun of the notoriously crappy quality of plugin streams. I guess some humor is too subtle for some people. Thanks for the general knowledge lesson though, I’m sure somebody out there didn’t know it. :-)

      • Edgar R. says:

        Looks like a great value. But I’m really only wanting PPV(UFC) and nfl. Everything else I don’t really need. Know of anything cheaper? And do they allow multiple streams?

  10. Right Wing says:

    Weird. Canadian user with a fire, got this update last night. Use US DNS to get HBO/Amazon, but Netflix I just get our local content. After this update only Netflix works. Other apps just open and close…

  11. Shawn Roth says:

    Will you be able to stream the NFL games on a Smart TV (from the amazon app obviously…Samsung TV)…or do you have to have a fire TV device…I have one..but I unplugged it since the TV had the prime video app.

  12. Alex B says:

    Would Screen Magnifier work inside applications? In particular, the font of Sony PS Vue EPG is extremely small, would I be able to magnify the guide with that new feature?

  13. Tony Ramirez says:

    Does it fix the annoying stuttering in some apps like Netflix and Hulu which is the worst for stuttering.

  14. ian says:

    Lets Now Wait for A Rbox release !!!

  15. clocks says:

    Has anyone else’s FTV2 boxed been becoming increasingly flaky? More and more my boxes just have a black screen when I wake them up (due to a HDMI bug?). And a newer issue is the remotes dont work when I wake the boxes up. Both of these issues required reboots to resolve. It’s getting really annoying.

    • Ray says:

      I trouble-shot (trouble shooted?) a friend’s FTV1 yesterday, which was displaying a similar wonkiness. I finally reset it back to factory settings and it seems to be working just fine now. Maybe that would help your issues as well?

      • clocks says:

        I figured a factory reset would probably improve things, but it would be such a PITA to get everything back how I want it. And with the new devices being close, I’m probably just going to try to wait it out until I get the new stuff.

        I had small hopes the new update would fix some of these quirks though.

    • Adam says:

      Clocks, I attributed this issue to wonkiness in my TV’s sleep mode, not the FireTV.

      I might be wrong as to the culprit, but generally I’ve been able to solve it by switching to and from another input on the TV. Landing back on the FireTV input usually wakes up the screen.

      An annoyance to be sure, but less than having to sit through a reboot of the FireTV.

  16. Richard s Goren says:

    When are they going to add the ability to go from one Fire tv to the other and continue watching the same Prime show.

  17. Gary D Stockton says:

    I wonder if this update will address the problem of not being able to adjusting your screen so that everything can be seen. This is on firestick 2nd gen.

  18. Andrew Harrison says:

    I have the update in the UK for 1st gen box and I don’t have the option to search with voice in apps…

  19. Art Pappas Jr says:

    I’m curious about where would the voice keyboard work….seems like it won’t work with Netflix or Hulu or Youtube or Kodi…..???? Those are all big apps….

  20. Judith says:

    Help! I can’t get past the “What’s new” page. It’s on that page for a few minutes then goes to the screen savers and stays on that no matter what I click on.

  21. Shameem says:

    On this update Youtube is broken in 4K mode. Regardless of HD/UHD video is playing, when the next video auto loads, it crashes on the spinning Youtube circle…. I have to switch to 1080-60Hz mode by pressing the Option key!!! Tried reinstalling Youtube/Reseted the app, no go…

  22. Micky T says:

    No fix for the 1080 stuttering issue??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Get notified of new posts

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.