If you’re a fan of watching live channels, one of the best features of Fire TVs is the built-in program guide that combines channels from many apps and services into a single list. With a button that takes you directly to the guide on all modern Fire TV remotes, it’s handy to flip back and forth between channels no matter what service they’re from. While you can easily remove channels and services you don’t want to be included, the program guide can still easily become unwieldy with the number of channels it contains. Amazon has recently made changes to help filter through the channel guide that is already available on select devices and will, hopefully, be coming to more in the near future.
The changes to the Fire TV channel guide that I’m going over in this article are being debuted on the new Panasonic Fire TV Smart TVs that were recently released in Europe. Amazon has worked with Panasonic on several unique features in Fire OS, such as providing remote functionality not found on any other Fire TV Smart TV remote. While there’s no word on which other devices will be receiving these changes, or when they’ll arrive, a Fire TV representative demoing the Panasonic TV has stated that these channel guide changes will be backported to other Fire TV models.
The biggest change that has been made to the Fire TV channel guide is the ability to easily filter your list of channels. In the upper left corner, where it normally just lists the time and “all channels,” is now an interactive filter button. When you navigate to the button, you’ll see a new menu of filtering options appear across the top of the channel guide.
The first option in the filter menu is “Recents” which lists all the channels you’ve recently viewed in chronological order. This, alone, makes jumping between a handful of channels a lot easier. Fire TV Smart TV remotes have had a dedicated recent button for some time, which you can replicate with this shortcut app, but that interface includes more than just channels and is a bit clunky in how it takes you away from the live channel interface.
Next in the list of new filters is “Favorites” which, as you expect, lists only your favorited channels. The Fire TV channel guide already lists your favorited channels at the very top, but it can be hard to get to if you’ve navigated far down a list of many channels.
After the “Recents” and “Favorites” filter options, you’ll find a filter for each of the services that provide channels in the guide. This makes it much quicker to get to just the channels from one particular service or app. At the top of each individual service filter, you’ll still see the list of favorited channels from that specific service.
While most of the changes being made are in the Fire TV channel guide, there are some new features in the live TV interface as well. The “On Now” menu, which you access by pressing right on the Fire TV remote while watching a live channel, has been completely revamped. Currently, this menu just lists a horizontally scrolling list of recent channels, which shows only a few channels at a time. The updated menu lists what is on recent channels in a vertically scrolling list that shows many more channels at once. The new menu is like a mini version of the full channel guide. Along the top of the new On Now menu is also a horizontal list of filters to dig into specific channel lists without leaving the channel you’re currently watching.
As mentioned, Panasonic Fire TVs will be shipping with these channel guide changes out of the box. While demoing the new TV, Amazon confirmed that other devices will be getting these changes through a software update but did not clarify if this will be limited to smart TVs or if the update will come to stand-alone Fire TV Sticks and Fire TV Cubes as well.