Overview of how Apps are handled in the New Fire TV Interface

The new redesigned Fire TV interface is out on select Fire TV models and is coming to nearly all Fire TVs, Fire TV Sticks, Fire TV Cubes, and Fire TV Edition devices early next year. I’ll be doing a deep dive into all of the various changes and areas of the new interface over the next few days/weeks and there is no better place to start than with how apps are accessed and configured. Here is a thorough overview of everything related to your apps in the new interface.

Pressing the Home button on the Fire TV remote lands you on the Fire TV’s home screen with the cursor on the “Home” item in the navigation menu. The order of the items in the navigation menu (i.e., Profile icon/selector, Library/Home/Find/Live buttons, placement of the app list, etc..) are not customizable, so it always takes 3 button presses to the right to get to your list of apps. Navigating through the “Find” and “Live” menu items is, thankfully, very smooth since those tabs loading below does not cause any lag or stuttering on the 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick I was using.

The list of 6 apps on the right side of the navigation menu is fully customizable. You can place any app in these 6 slots, including sideloaded apps. You can also place Prime Video Channels, such as the HBO icon seen at the end of the list in the above image. This list essentially replaces the “Your Apps & Channels” row on the Home screen of the old Fire TV interface. Highlighting one of these 6 apps will display a peek of the content available in the app in the lower portion of the screen, if the app supports the feature. I’ll be covering this app peek area in much more detail in a separate article.

The list of 6 apps in the navigation menu area does not scroll, as the list of apps on the old home screen did. Navigating past the 6th app lands you on the triple-dot […] icon which, when selected, takes you to the rest of your apps. I would have personally preferred that the list of apps in the navigation menu scrolled horizontally so that you could easily get to more than just 6 apps. It would have also been nice if highlighting the triple-dot […] icon listed the other apps in the bottom portion of the screen so that you could just navigate down to them, instead of loading a separate screen.

You can also still access your list of apps by pressing and holding the Home button on your remote to bring up the Fire TV’s shortcut menu. Selecting the Apps shortcut or the triple-dot […] icon in the navigation menu takes you to the exact same screen with all of your apps. On a side note, the shortcut menu screen, which has always been a handy way to check the time, now also displays the date, which it didn’t in the old interface. The other addition to the shortcut screen is a new icon to switch profiles. I’ll be covering how profiles work in detail in a separate article.

The 3rd row on the Home screen is now where the list of recently used apps exist. You can just barely see the top of this row peaking out when you press the home button on the remote and the Home screen is in its default state. This list does scroll horizontally past the first 5 icons being displayed, so if you’re trying to get to an app that isn’t in your top 6, it might be quicker to just find it in the recent app list, since you don’t need to load a new screen.

The list of all apps has the first 6 apps separated slightly, to indicate that these are the apps that will appear in the navigation menu. Just as with the old interface, you can highlight an app and press the menu button to see an options menu appear in the lower right corner that lets you reorder the list of apps. You can also press and hold the Select button to pick-up an app and start moving it around.

The different states that an app can be in has changed slightly with the new Fire TV interface, due to the introduction of user profiles. In the old interface, all apps installed on the device appeared in your list of apps and there was a device setting that allowed you to either hide or show cloud apps, which are apps that you’ve purchased but are not currently installed on your device. Cloud apps in the old interface were indicated by a cloud icon in the corner of the app icon.

The new Fire TV interface now allows you to select a “Remove from your apps” option which essentially hides the app from appearing in the currently selected profile, without uninstalling the app. This is so that different people in your household can customize the list of apps to only show the apps they care about. Unfortunately, all the default apps installed by Amazon on Fire TVs, like Prime Video, News, Photos, and Music, cannot be hidden or uninstalled. You also cannot hide Prime Video Channel icons or the stupid “Add More Channels” icon. It’s a pretty deliberate slap in the face by Amazon to introduce a new customization feature that allows you to hide apps, but then prevent you from using it on their own apps and icons.

While it’s now possible to have an app installed but hidden, it’s oddly possible for the opposite to occur, where an app is not installed but present in your list of apps. I’m not sure if this is a bug or not, but when I set up this Fire TV Stick with the new interface for the first time, my app list was full of cloud apps that weren’t installed on the device. You can see Hulu in the image above is one of those apps since it does not have an uninstall option. Since the new interface no longer has an option to hide/show cloud apps (more on that below), it was very tedious to have to select “Remove from your apps” individually for each cloud app to clean up the list. Thankfully, it was just a few apps and not my entire list of purchased cloud apps.

I don’t know if an existing Fire TV that updates to the new interface will see this kind of behavior where random cloud apps, that aren’t installed on the device, appear in the list of apps. It does seem like a bug since, once a cloud app is removed, there is actually no way to add it back to the list unless you install the app. But just a heads up that you might have to do some cleanup when you first use a device with the new interface.

At the bottom of the grid of apps is a button for “All Your Apps.” This button takes you to the section of the new Appstore app that lists all apps associated with your account or device. When you hide/remove an app from a certain profile’s list of apps, this is where you go to find it again if you want to launch it or add it back to the list.

The list of all of your apps in the new Appstore app can display both installed apps and cloud apps on one screen, or you can use the tabs at the top to filter just the apps that are installed or not installed. If you haven’t purchased a bazillion apps in the past like me, you can use the “Not Installed” list to easily get to all of your favorite apps when setting up a new device. The list of installed apps here is really just needed to get to apps that you have hidden from your main list. In general, you likely will only be diving into this “All Your Apps” list when initially setting up a Fire TV.

For those curious, the Settings are for app management is pretty much unchanged from the old interface, apart from looking a little bit more polished. Going to Settings > Applications > Manage Installed Applications is still how you can clear an app’s data/cache, change permissions, and uninstall an app. There aren’t any new options in this area.

Lastly, the developer options for allowing ADB debugging and for allowing apps from unknown sources are also unchanged. You still go to Settings > My Fire TV > Developer Options to change these settings and the new interface doesn’t do anything to make sideloading apps any more difficult than before.

One comment
  1. Jan says:

    I think its pretty weird that you need to enter each app to see all content and only content from amazon is displayed in the suggestions. I hoped it would work as a smart TV or other apps that shows you ALL the content from apps instead of have to enter each one to keep watching etc. Not impressed…

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