Now that the revamped Fire TV and Fire TV Stick interface has been released to all devices, new and old, Amazon is starting to work on polishing the home screen and incrementally improving the interface. They recently started allowing 3rd-party apps to recommend content directly on the home screen in an effort to help non-Amazon content gain more exposure. Now Amazon will be making a significant change to the way apps and content appear in the Fire TVs “Recent” row on the home screen. Apps will be able to list content there that’s relevant to your recent activity, instead of just displaying the app icon.
As it is today, the “Recent” row at the top of the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick’s home screen displays a chronological list of the apps you most recently used, as well as the Amazon Video content you most recently viewed. This is unbalanced, and slightly unfair, for 3rd-party streaming apps like Netflix and HBO, since they can only ever have one static entry in the “Recent” row, while Amazon’s own content can have an entry per show or movie.
In a future software update, Amazon will be allowing approved 3rd-party apps to display more than just their static app icon in the “Recent” row. Apps will be able to display “continue watching” recommendations that are relevent to the content you’ve been viewing within the app.
These recommendations must fit into one of two categories. The first is content that you’ve started watching but did not finish. So if you start watching a movie or TV show episode in an app like Netflix, instead of just seeing the Netflix app icon in the “Recent” row on the Fire TV, you’ll see the movie/show appear. Selecting the movie/show from the “Recent” row will jump you back into that content within the app, instead of just loading the app itself.
The second type of “continue watching” content that may appear in the “Recent” row, in addition to unfinished content, is the next episode in a series, if you just finished watching an episode. So if you just finished watching the second episode of Silicon Valley in the HBO app, instead of the HBO app icon appearing in the “Recent” row, you’ll see the third episode of Silicon Valley listed. This will allow you to more quickly jump in where you left off in a series, instead of having to load the app’s home screen first and find the series each time.
In addition to an image of the movie or TV show appearing in the “Recent” row, the logo of the app listing the content will be placed in the lower left corner of the content thumbnail, so it’s clear which app will be loaded when the content is selected. For unfinished content, a progress bar, indicating how much is left in the episode or movie, will also be displayed. The content provider will be responsible for providing the images and text that appear when the content is highlighted.
To keep 3rd-party apps from abusing this new privilege, and clustering the “Recent” row, Amazon is stipulating that only one episode from any given series can appear in the “Recent” row. So if you jump around from episode to episode in a series, you won’t have a “Recent” row full of the same show. Amazon is also only allowing a maximum of 5 listings per app in the “Recent” row.
Fire TV apps don’t have to adopt this new type of “Recent” row listing. If they make no changes to their app, the app’s icons will just continue appearing in the “Recent” row as it does today. For an app to display “continue watching” content, they must have their content integrated into the Fire TV’s universal search, so you’re not going to see apps like YouTube or Kodi list content directly in the “Recent” row.