The all-new Amazon Fire TV 3 will be the first device to run Fire OS 6 when it’s released next month. It’s probably safe to say that the updated OS will add some new features to the Fire TV that aren’t available today. Amazon says Fire OS 6 will be in parity with Android TV Nougat and specifically says it will support Picture in Picture, Video Time Shifting, and Content Recording.
Picture in Picture (PIP) is a feature that the Nexus Player received about a year ago and one that other Android TV devices received when/if they were updated to Android 7. It allows video apps, that take advantage of the feature, to continue playing video in a small window in the corner of the screen while browsing other areas of the app. A common use case for PIP is being able to continue watching a video while you browse for something else to watch.
Even though Amazon says Fire OS 6 on the Fire TV will support PIP, there’s no guarantee that it will be supported on the home screen like I’ve mocked up in the above image. It’s possible that Amazon will not update the Fire TV’s system apps to take advantage of the feature, and instead only provide support for it to 3rd-party apps that choose to implement it.
Apps that have a live stream option within them will be able to take advantage of a time-shifting API in Fire OS 6. This would enable apps to easily provide the option to pause and rewind live video feeds. With Fire OS 5, apps need to implement such a feature themselves from scratch. This is why most app’s with live streams don’t currently allow time-shifting the live content.
Amazon has already implemented time-shifting in Fire OS 5 on the Fire TV Edition television for its built-in OTA tuner, but it’s not available for 3rd-party apps to use. Fire OS 6 will allow any app to use a default time-shifting API, so more apps with live streams should begin adopting the ability.
The big disadvantage with time-shifting is that if you navigate away from the app or video feed that you are watching, you lose the stored video buffer and can no longer rewind the feed. The solution to this is for the OS to provide an easy way for apps to record video content locally so that it can be retrieved at any time. That is exactly what will be available to app developers in Fire OS 6.
Content recording expands on the time-shifting capabilities and allows users to record multiple sessions. It’s even possible for users to schedule recordings of live streams in advance, like a DVR.
All we know right now is that Fire OS 6 will include APIs that allow PIP, time-shifting, and content recording. The question remains whether or not Amazon themselves will use those APIs for new features and whether or not 3rd-party apps will use the features. Lets hope both.