Amazon Fire TVs have always had dedicated home screen rows to keep track of what users have recently watched, but they’ve always been pretty useless for tracking and displaying watched content in 3rd-party (i.e., non-Amazon) apps. If you select 3rd-party content through the main Fire TV interface then it usually shows up in the Fire TV’s universal “Recently Watched” row on the home screen, but the Fire TV has always been blind to anything selected within 3rd-party apps so the recently watched content listed on the home screen quickly becomes inaccurate. That’s soon going to change because Amazon is working on a way for any app to explicitly share your viewing activity in the app with the Fire TV so that a truly accurate and universal watchlist, and more, can be displayed.
I’ve learned through reliable means that Amazon is working on an upcoming Fire TV feature that provides streaming apps with a way to share your viewing activity within the app with Amazon. This will allow Fire TVs to display an accurate list of recently watched movies and TV show episodes, even if the content was never started through the Fire TV interface. This feature would be similar to the “Up Next” row in the TV app on Apple TV devices and the “Continue Watching” row on Google TV devices.
Watch activity shared by apps through this new feature will not be limited to viewing activity done on Fire TV devices. Apps can also share your activity from other devices. If, for example, you watched the next episode of a TV show on your phone while you were out of the house, an app could share that information with Amazon so that your Fire TV doesn’t list an episode you’ve already watched as your next episode.
In addition to sharing what you’ve recently watched, apps will also be able to share what content you’ve added to watchlists within the app. Apps will also be able to share your personal library of recordings from the app’s DVR feature. Lastly, apps will be able to share any content you’ve purchased within the app.
Last year, Fire TV devices gained a “My Stuff” tab that currently only lists your Fire TV watchlist, the DVR recordings from a Fire TV Recast OTA DVR, and the content you’ve purchased from Amazon. With the additional information shared by apps, Amazon could, theoretically, turn the Fire TV’s “My Stuff” tab into a universal repository of all your watchlist content, DVR recordings, and purchased content across both Amazon and non-Amazon apps, but I can’t confirm that will happen.
If all of this potential information sharing between your Fire TV apps and Amazon has you concerned about your privacy, as it rightfully should, know that you will, thankfully, be able to disable the sharing of all viewing information between apps and Amazon if you choose. Additionally, this won’t be an all-or-nothing setting either. If you prefer, you will be able to manually select which apps share information with Amazon and which apps don’t share anything. Lastly, it appears that viewing information within apps will not be shared with Amazon if a Fire TV kid profile is being used.
Streaming apps will individually need to opt-in and be updated to support this new capability for any of your viewing behavior in the app to appear in the Fire TV’s interface, which is common practice for this type of feature on other streaming platforms like Apple TV and Google TV. As such, I expect only a small number of apps will initially support the feature at launch, that is if it does actually launch. You should probably also expect some apps to resist integrating the feature for a long time, such as Netflix which is notoriously against supporting any feature on any platform that puts its content alongside content from other streaming services. While this new feature is actively being worked on, I don’t know when it will be released.