The Jeep Grand Wagoneer, which is the first vehicle to have Amazon Fire TV functionality built into its various screens, has reached dealerships. With its arrival comes a bit more information about Fire TV for Auto. For starters, the remotes that come with the system are identical to the Fire TV Smart TV remotes that come with all Fire TV TVs and soundbars in the US and other regions, with the exception of a car button. We also now know how front passengers will access the Fire TV experience through what appears to be screen-sharing functionality.
Since I don’t have $100,000 to blow on a new car just to check out the Fire TV experience, and Jeep isn’t knocking on my door with a car for me to borrow, I’m piecing this information together from various manuals, articles, and videos that have popped up since the Grand Wagoneer’s release. So, excuse me if this isn’t all precisely how the built-in Fire TV system works.
One certain thing is that in addition to being a touch-screen and offering an on-screen virtual remote, Fire TV for Auto comes with standard physical Fire TV remotes. The remotes, at least those included with the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, are identical to those that come with Toshiba/Insignia Fire TV Smart TVs and Nebula/TCL Fire TV Smart Soundbars. The only difference is that the 4th app shortcut button is, instead, used to access a car menu where you can access rear climate controls and an “Are We There Yet?” interface. It’s unclear if the car menu is part of the Fire TV interface or if it is a completely independent system. The other 3 app buttons are for Prime Video, Netflix, and Disney+.
It seems a bit odd that the larger Smart TV remote was chosen, instead of the new Fire TV Stick remote, since having a smaller remote is beneficial in cars where storage space is limited. Perhaps the new Fire TV remote, called “Pico,” which recently appeared in regulator filings, is a smaller remote, as the name suggests, destined for use in future cars.
As suspected, each of the two rear screens appear to operate independently of one another and each includes its own remote. When Fire TV built into the Jeep Grand Wagoneer was first announced, Jeep said that the driver and front passenger could also access the Fire TV system. Now we know a bit more about how that will work.
From what I’ve been able to piece together, the front passengers will be able to bring up a Fire TV menu on the main screen in the center of the front dashboard. That menu will allow them to select which of the two rear Fire TV systems/screens they would like to view. The front passengers will be able to view and control the rear Fire TV system through the front screen via an on-screen remote. All of this can only be done if the vehicle is in park.
The Jeep Grand Wagoneer also has a separate front passenger screen above the glovebox. This screen has a privacy filter that allows it to be viewed head-on while making the screen appear blank when viewed from the driver’s seat, so the vehicle does not need to be in park to view the passenger screen. That said, it’s unclear if the passenger screen has the same Fire TV viewing capabilities as the center screen. The passenger screen has “Rear Screen 1 Listen In” and “Rear Screen 2 Listen In” options, making it seem like only the audio, not the video, of the rear Fire TV systems, can be piped in through the front passenger screen.
The last thing worth noting is that swiping in from the right edge of the rear screens will bring up a new Fly-Out Menu. This menu will house a Power button that turns the screen off, a button to bring up the on-screen remote, a Back button, a Home button, and a Settings button. Lastly, a Car button seems to perform the same functionality as the Car button on the physical remote, which provides access to the rear climate control options and the “Are We There Yet?” interface.
In short, it seems like the Fire TV for Auto system, at least in the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, functions as if you have two independent Fire TV devices in the back seat which can be mirrored to, and controlled by, the front screen in the vehicle. While that’s not as good as a third, or even fourth, Fire TV system for the front center and passenger screens, it does allow front occupants to access the Fire TV interface and view content. BMW is the other automaker that is supposed to be integrating Fire TV into one or more of its future vehicles, but nothing is known about that system or if it will function the same way as the one in the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
A new video appears to confirm that the passenger’s front screen cannot watch any Fire TV content. That’s a real shame because the front passenger screen can play content from a USB drive or from its own HDMI input.
When selecting the Fire TV menu item on the front passenger screen, you’re given the option to select which of the two rear screens you’d like to control. You can also turn either rear screen on or off, listen in on what is being played, or lock the rear passengers out of controlling the screen entirely.
Selecting the “Launch Source” option of either rear screen allows you to choose if you want the Fire TV interface to be displayed or one of the other input options. You can also see a list of recently used Fire TV apps and select one of the apps to remotely launch it on the rear Fire TV interface. While you can certainly launch an app on the rear screen from the front passenger screen, it’s unclear if you have the option to control the rear Fire TV interface further, such as selecting content or navigating within an app.
It’s worth noting that, while viewing controls for the left/first screen, there is an option to set screen 1’s source as “View Screen 2.” This means you can mirror the Fire TV interface from one screen to the other so that both rear screens are watching the exact same thing. Presumably, you can set the front center screen to also view that same Fire TV and have all 3 screens (2 rear and 1 front center) watching the exact same thing playing on one of the rear Fire TVs.
I’ve had Fire TV in my Escape for 3 years. Great coolness factor, but it eats the living crap out of data plans. For me, I wouldn’t pay any extra to have in my car. I never (rarely) use it, and for the apps I do watch I can just use my android stereo to watch on the 10.1″ monitor(s). Yeah, Fire TV auto is not a selling point for this guy.
I think it’s mainly to shut up the kids in the back.
I find that any old tablet or two in an inexpensive headrest holder works just as well and is far more versatile.
That being said, the FireTV remote is great for a ~$25 OTT device, but seems out of step in a $100k vehicle… not that I would consider dropping $100k on a Jeep.
I see every other kid “accidently” tossing this remote out the car window 5 minutes after leaving home. The highways are going to be littered with them.
I think you’re going to have to be able to download the shows you want to watch ahead of time if you’re watching on a long trip, because inevitibly the connection will drop in and out. Eventually you will be somewhere that doesn’t have coverage at all. I guess if you have $100,000 to buy this vehcle, then you could have multiple phones on different carrier data plans.
Would be nice to go through a drive through and then watch a movie while you eat in the parking lot while connected to their WiFi. I can do that with a large screen smart phone and a bluetooth adapter in a 10 year old vehicle.
Seems like if you’re buying a $100,000 vehicle, then everyone in the familiy will have their own smart phone with ulimited data and bluetooth earbuds to watch or listen to whatever they want on a long trip and deal with the drop outs individually. Even then they would still potentially lose coverage depending on the length of the trip.
Maybe adults who go on vaction with parents or grandparents in the back would use the fire tv rather than a mobile device.
Seems like this setup would only work for kids for a few years at most while they are in a car seat and able to face forward. Then they will want their own device to stream what they want.
Seems like this might be more of a status symbol than something that would be used regularly.
Im currently vacationing and took a long car ride with my kids. I can tell you this looks cool but unless they start offering truly unlimited data at reasonable prices, this is pretty useless. The real techies might be able to mount a thumb drive and play movies but that’s kinda overkill. However, if this is gonna become the trend, Amazon should require app developers to include the ability to download titles for Netflix, HBO etc. Currently that’s only a feature on the mobile apps.
I think it looks really cool though.
Regarding the comments about data usage, Amazon did say that this system will support downloading videos for offline playback. What that means exactly is unknown but I suspect it’ll work similarly to how Fire tablets can download videos for offline viewing in a limited number apps, like Prime Video and Netflix.
And if you’re going to download content, you may as well just give the kids tablets — cheaper and less arguments
Plus I’m taking bets on when the first hack shows up that bypasses the Must Be In Park for the front screen to play; it probably isn’t that hard to do. Big liability risk.