With the new Fire TV user interface, Amazon added the ability for any app you have installed to recommend content for you to watch. These recommendations will appear in their own row on the Fire TV’s home screen. This new functionality was likely added in part to address criticism that Amazon only highlights their own Prime Video content on the Fire TV’s interface. Amazon just updated their developer documentation for this feature, giving us a better idea of how it works. Here’s a breakdown of the feature and what to expect when apps begin adopting it.
Recommendations from apps will appear in a row on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick’s home screen called “RECOMMENDED BY YOUR APPS.” It appears that certain services, like Netflix and HBO, get special privileges that give them their own dedicated row of recommendations, while all other apps must share a single generic recommendations row.
Amazon has no control over what is displayed in the recommended content row. The apps themselves select the content based on your viewing history within the app and new content available. This means only content from apps you have installed will appear in the recommended content row. Additionally, Amazon is requiring that you’ve launched the app at least once before it can recommend content.
The title, description, and image in the recommended content row is controlled by the 3rd-party app. Additionally, the app can control what options appear when you press the menu button on the Fire TV remote while highlighting a piece of recommended content.
An option to launch the app making the recommendation will always be present, but the app can also choose to include the following options: Watch, Resume, Switch Profile, Change Settings, View, Play, Listen, and Open. So if the app is recommending that you continue watching an episode or movie that it knows you already started, it can choose to display a resume button that starts playback where you left off.
The Fire TV’s support for recommended content from apps is actually compatible with Android TV’s implementation of a similar feature. This means that if an app developer ports their app over from Android TV, the recommendations the app displays in the Android TV interface will also appear in the Fire TV interface. Amazon has added extra enhancements on top of Android TV’s implementation of recommendations, like marking content as live and setting the content’s maturity rating for parental control reasons, but these are optional for developers. Compatibility with Android TV means more developers will be likely to use the new recommended content feature.
Amazon has laid out best practices for app developers when it comes to recommending content. For starters, they suggest that each app only recommend 5 items at a time, so that a single app does not flood the recommendations row. When you select a piece of recommended content, the app is supposed to remove that item from the list of recommendations. Amazon also suggests that apps display free content in the recommendation row and not use it to hard sell premium content.
While Amazon is giving 3rd-party developers a lot of control over the recommended content row, they will blacklist apps that abuse the privilege. Amazon says apps that “harass, hard sell, or recommend inappropriate content” may be blacklisted from the recommendations row.