Amazon has stepped back one of the most controversial changes brought on by the Fire TV’s new interface update. The “Next Up For You” row, which was introduced with the new interface update and promised to provide custom recommendations for what to watch next, has been moved from the top row on the new home screen to the fourth row. Replacing it as the new top row is the “Recently Watched” row, which used to sit at the top of the old interface but, to the annoyance of many, got pushed far down the home screen when the new interface arrived. Below that is still a sponsored row and the “Recently Used Apps” row, which was also moved up the home screen from its original position farther down when the new interface first debuted.
One of the biggest complaints of the Fire TV home screen for a long time has been its lack of personalization. While you could always control which app icons had priority placement on the home screen, the rest of the interface was full of content options that were the same for all Fire TV users. The “Next Up For You” row, which arrived along with the new Fire TV interface late last year, was supposed to address that complaint by learning from your watching habits and providing personalized movie and TV show recommendations. Amazon touted it as one of the main improvements brought on by the new interface and it had enough faith in it to place it as the very top row, just below the navigation bar, which also now housed the customizable list of your top 6 apps.
While the “Next Up For You” row is, in my opinion, great in concept, it was destined to fall short of its potential because it couldn’t recommend content from all services and it had no insight into what you watched within most apps. The only way for Amazon to know the types of content you watch, and then, in turn, use that information to recommend similar content in the “Next Up For You” row, is if you select content from the Fire TV’s main interface. Since most people likely select content from within 3rd-party apps, which Amazon correctly does not monitor, there is simply no way to build a complete picture of what kind of content you prefer. For those who didn’t primarily select content from the Fire TV’s main interface, this often left the “Next Up For You” row filled with uninteresting recommendations.
This is likely what has lead Amazon to now rearrange the order of rows on the Fire TV’s home screen. At the top is now the “Recently Watched” row. Similar to the “Next Up For You” row, this row also suffers from not knowing what you watched within 3rd-party apps, but at least it always shows something that is relevant to you, which is why many people prefer it to the “Next Up For You” row. I know because of the 35 Loader shortcut apps I released recently, the one for your Recently Watched list is easily among the most popular. The second row is still an advertisement, which changes between being a banner ad or a list of sponsored apps, and the third row is the “Recently Used Apps” row. The “Next Up For You” row is still around as the fourth row, for those of you who do use it.
I commend my former colleagues on the Fire TV team who, presumably, recognized that the “Next Up For You” row was not performing as well as they had hoped and who made the call to revert the home screen row order back to one that more closely resembled how it was with the older interface. The old interface had a single “Recents” row at the top which mixed recently used apps and recently watched content. I do, personally, prefer the new approach of separating recent content and recent apps into two rows. Despite your opinion of the “Next Up For You” row, making the call to reduce its priority, after putting the effort needed to make it a reality, must have been a difficult decision for someone to make, but I think it is for the better and a great call.
Thanks to letour_001 for pointing out this change!