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.