Amazon has been working on bringing a full-fledged shopping app to the Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and soon the Fire TV Edition televisions, for some time. They recently leaked details of the app and now it seems like a functional version is starting to quietly roll out to devices in preparation of an official reveal. Here’s how the app will look and work.
All Fire TV devices already have some version of the shopping app, and have had it for a long time. The shopping app is actually what gets launched if you select an ad banner, that’s advertising a physical product, from the Fire TV home screen. What has changed is that now the shopping app is getting its own home interface, a search function, and other additions that make it a full-fledged stand-alone app, instead of just an app that can only display a single product at a time.
My Fire TV devices already display an Amazon shopping app icon, but I believe that’s only because I “purchased” the shopping app while it was incorrectly being listed in the Amazon appstore. Since my Amazon account has a record of buying the app, it’s causing my Fire TV to already display the app. Prior to this recent update, the app was not launchable. It’s likely, once Amazon is ready, they’ll make it so all Fire TV devices will list the shopping app alongside other system apps, like the Prime Photos and Music apps. If you’re interested, you might be able to launch the app early if you select a product ad banner or use a program that can launch hidden system apps, like ES File Explorer.
The home screen of the shopping app displays a horizontally scrolling list of product collections that are curated by Amazon. These cover a wide variety of products, like outdoor living, top toys, smart home devices, fashion, and much more. There are currently 29 collections to browse through, with each collection leading to a product or list of products. At the top of the app is the main menu, where the “Shop” button takes you to the app home screen seen above.
The search function unfortunately does not use the default Fire TV on-screen keyboard. This means that you can’t use a USB keyboard or Bluetooth keyboard to enter text. You have to use the custom on-screen keyboard presented. Ultimately, this won’t be an issue because I’m sure the app will eventually allow you to use the voice remote to dictate your search, like the leaked Silk browser appears to do, instead of tediously entering text using the on-screen keyboard.
Searching works as you’d expect, with a horizontally scrolling list of results displayed. A nice feature is the complete selection of filters and sort options available within the app. Pretty much every option that would appear in the left sidebar on Amazon.com is available to select within the app.
The “Lists” section of the app displays your Amazon wish lists, but it can only display lists you’ve marked as public. This is because your Fire TV is expected to be accessible by many different people, since most people have it in their living room, so Amazon doesn’t want the shopping app to reveal anything in your lists that you’d want to keep private. You can add items to any of your wish lists from within the app, but again, they’ll only appear in the Lists section if the list itself is public.
The settings area of the shopping app just gives you a pair of shortcuts to the Fire TV’s Parental Control settings and legal text. You can use the standard Fire TV parental control options to require a PIN be entered to complete a purchase within the app.
Viewing product details within the shopping app will be familiar to anyone who has ever selected a product ad banner from the Fire TV’s home screen. Viewing and buying physical products through a Fire TV device has been possible for over a year and not much has changed with this new version of the shopping app. You can still select product options, view videos and photos, read descriptions and reviews, and browse similar/recommended products.
Placing orders has similarly not changed much with this updated shopping app. You can still change payment methods and shipping options before completing a purchase. One thing I never noticed before is the ability to select no-rush shipping within the app, which still qualifies for extra perks.
Overall, this is a very nice update to the Amazon shopping app on the Fire TV, for those interesting in shopping from you couch. It’s still a lot easier and quicker to buy products through Alexa, but the shopping app gives you the option to do more detail searches and allows you to better research an item before purchasing. The way I see it, Alexa is great for when you know exactly what you want to buy, while the shopping app is best for when you need to look at several products.