Movies and TV shows from 3rd-party services are coming to the Amazon Fire TV’s ‘Recent’ row

Now that the revamped Fire TV and Fire TV Stick interface has been released to all devices, new and old, Amazon is starting to work on polishing the home screen and incrementally improving the interface. They recently started allowing 3rd-party apps to recommend content directly on the home screen in an effort to help non-Amazon content gain more exposure. Now Amazon will be making a significant change to the way apps and content appear in the Fire TVs “Recent” row on the home screen. Apps will be able to list content there that’s relevant to your recent activity, instead of just displaying the app icon.

An example app icon in the “Recent” row as it is today.

As it is today, the “Recent” row at the top of the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick’s home screen displays a chronological list of the apps you most recently used, as well as the Amazon Video content you most recently viewed. This is unbalanced, and slightly unfair, for 3rd-party streaming apps like Netflix and HBO, since they can only ever have one static entry in the “Recent” row, while Amazon’s own content can have an entry per show or movie.

An example episode from a 3rd-party app in the “Recent” row.

In a future software update, Amazon will be allowing approved 3rd-party apps to display more than just their static app icon in the “Recent” row. Apps will be able to display “continue watching” recommendations that are relevent to the content you’ve been viewing within the app.

These recommendations must fit into one of two categories. The first is content that you’ve started watching but did not finish. So if you start watching a movie or TV show episode in an app like Netflix, instead of just seeing the Netflix app icon in the “Recent” row on the Fire TV, you’ll see the movie/show appear. Selecting the movie/show from the “Recent” row will jump you back into that content within the app, instead of just loading the app itself.

The second type of “continue watching” content that may appear in the “Recent” row, in addition to unfinished content, is the next episode in a series, if you just finished watching an episode. So if you just finished watching the second episode of Silicon Valley in the HBO app, instead of the HBO app icon appearing in the “Recent” row, you’ll see the third episode of Silicon Valley listed. This will allow you to more quickly jump in where you left off in a series, instead of having to load the app’s home screen first and find the series each time.

Items provided by the 3rd-party app.

In addition to an image of the movie or TV show appearing in the “Recent” row, the logo of the app listing the content will be placed in the lower left corner of the content thumbnail, so it’s clear which app will be loaded when the content is selected. For unfinished content, a progress bar, indicating how much is left in the episode or movie, will also be displayed. The content provider will be responsible for providing the images and text that appear when the content is highlighted.

To keep 3rd-party apps from abusing this new privilege, and clustering the “Recent” row, Amazon is stipulating that only one episode from any given series can appear in the “Recent” row. So if you jump around from episode to episode in a series, you won’t have a “Recent” row full of the same show. Amazon is also only allowing a maximum of 5 listings per app in the “Recent” row.

Fire TV apps don’t have to adopt this new type of “Recent” row listing. If they make no changes to their app, the app’s icons will just continue appearing in the “Recent” row as it does today. For an app to display “continue watching” content, they must have their content integrated into the Fire TV’s universal search, so you’re not going to see apps like YouTube or Kodi list content directly in the “Recent” row.

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16 comments
  1. Pawdog says:

    A little bit of Plex creeping in,that’s nice to see.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Yup, also very similar to how they’re going to handle live TV in the Recent row on the Fire TV Edition televisions.

      • Y314K says:

        Was wondering how you got pics of this. The FTV television you are testing I see.

        By the way, we lost the ability to know when a installed Amazon App update is available. And to on a per app basis choose to manually update any Amazon App when we have Auto Amazon App updates turned off on latest FTV1 PreRooted. Either major overlook from Amazon or a big step backwards.

        • AFTVnews says:

          I wish I had a pre-release Fire TV Edition television to test, but Amazon definitely doesn’t like me enough to give me that. Heck, they wouldn’t even give me a measly Fire TV Stick 2 to review before launch, like they give the big tech sites.

          The Fire TV Edition photos are from when I played with one at CES in January. The images and info about this new “Recent” row feature are from the developer documentation pages that I keep track of.

          • Y314K says:

            Thought you where testing the TV’s because of the May 8th Patron headline, “Testing of Fire TV Edition televisions”.

            Thought it was you testing them.

          • AFTVnews says:

            Oh I get why you thought I was testing the TV. Here is the text from that Patreon post:

            Every once in awhile, an odd new app will appear in the Amazon appstore for a day and then disappear. This one just popped up. It’ll likely be gone soon, so you can see it in the screenshot above. These apps are made by Amazon staff to test certain aspects of the Fire TV. Sometimes, but rarely, there will be a hint at what it’s used for, so they can reveal what’s coming in the pipeline. For example, just before the Fire TV Stick was announced for India, a bunch of apps like this appeared to test appstore features in India.
            This particular app is testing “fire tv intent” which is when apps make requests from the OS. The inclusion of “rita” in the notes indicate this is being used to test this function on the upcoming Fire TV Edition televisions, which I’ve recently learned are codenamed Rita.

        • Y314K says:

          Actually there is a Notification in the new Notifications area if there is an App update available when Auto-Updates are turned off. I do wonder if one accidentally dismisses the notification how to get it to show up again. I prefer that there was still a Update Available option in the Apps drawer for each Amazon App that has an available update.

  2. Hopefully this can be disabled, or at the very least the app icon will always be easily found in recents as well.

    Alternatively, if they’d return the double press shortcut to open the app grid, that’d give a concrete location for each app.

    Hopefully having all the hardware on the same firmware will be the new normal, and we’ll see more improvements. It was a long period of stagnation before this.

    Also, cluttering, not clustering I presume.

  3. Charles R Brown says:

    Amazon FireTV still needs to support VuDu. This walled garden bullshit needs to end.

  4. derrick says:

    i ignore anything not in recent or My apps or settings. Every other page is just in the way and thus mentally i block them out. If they put naked lady pictures in it i might not notice at this point.

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