Overview of new Sling TV interface now available on Fire TV devices

Sling TV, the streaming television service with plans that start at $35 month for 30+ channels, has launched an entirely new app interface that has come first to Fire TV devices. While Sling TV’s old app interface could be commended for taking a unique approach to streaming TV, it certainly took some getting used to. The new interface has greatly simplified things and is more aligned with what most people tend to expect in a streaming app. Here is an overview of the new interface.

The new Sling TV app consists of 4 main sections which include the home screen, channel guide, DVR screen, and on-demand screen. The home screen provides various rows of recommendations as you scroll down the screen, such as your new content, most-watched channels, trending shows, recent DVR recordings, and watchlist items. There’s also a section for categories, like Sports, News, and Kids, where you can browse recommendations of those types.

The app’s Channel Guide section now more closely resembles a traditional grid-based guide. At the top is a menu that lets you sort and filter the guide by different methods such as alphabetically, recent, and favorites. You can also just show channels with sports, news, movies, or kids programming.

Highlighting an item on the channel guide gives you a peek at relevant info for what’s on, such as the release date, start/end time, how long is left, and content rating. While in the guide, you can press the menu button on the remote to record the content to your DVR library without needing to leave the guide. You can also mark channels as favorites by selecting the heart to the left of each row.

Instead of scrolling right to view more content from a particular channel, you can select the channel logo to go to a screen just for that channel. From there you’ll see a horizontally scrolling list of everything coming up next on that channel. This is far easier to flip through, in my opinion, than on the guide itself if, for example, you’re looking for something specific that you know is coming up soon on a certain channel. Scrolling down on this screen is a list of all the different shows and movies from the channel that are available to watch on-demand.

The new DVR screen is also a lot more simplified than the previous interface. On it, you’ll find your DVR storage usage at the top and a grid of all the different shows and movies that you have stored. Highlighting an item and pressing the select button will delete all recordings of that show in a single click. At the top of the DVR screen is a Scheduled tab that shows a chronological list of all the upcoming items that will be recorded and you can choose to edit or cancel individual items. The last tab is a Trash tab where deleted items will be placed for 48 hours, in case you change your mind and want to keep them.

Selecting a show on the DVR screen will list all the episodes of that show that you have stored. From there you can change recording options, such as whether you want to record all episodes or only new ones. You can also delete all recordings at once or scroll through the list and delete individual episodes. You can also lock episodes from this screen so that they don’t get automatically erased when your DVR is full to make room for new recordings.

The last section of the app’s vertical navigation menu is the on-demand section. Here are the various rows of movies and shows to browse through, such as Popular Shows, Hit Movies, Comedy shows, Award-Worthy Movies, and more. Oddly, this is also where you’ll find your watchlist.

The final thing worth mentioning is the Search section, which works as you’d expect. Whether you search through the on-screen keyboard or use Alexa to perform a voice search, the same search result screen is used. I would have liked to see ways to filter or sort search results, but all you can do is scroll through the flat list or results. Sling TV has also, unfortunately, removed the ability to use the Fire TV’s default keyboard which comes with the advantage of allowing voice-to-text input, if you prefer not to use direct voice searches.

I do want to note, in the interest of full disclosure, that Sling TV provided me a complimentary account, at my request, so that I could fully try out its new interface. However, they are providing no compensation for this post, nor are they able to review or edit it before being published.

Overall, this new app is a very nice improvement over the old one. Sling TV’s unorthodox older app was probably the worst part of the service, so it’s nice to see that they’ve gone with a more traditional approach and that they have brought it to Fire TV devices first. Of course, you can still avoid using most of the app, apart from the DVR section, and use the Fire TV’s built-in channel guide instead, since Sling TV is fully integrated into the Fire TV’s live TV interfaces.

14 comments
  1. Michael Nix says:

    Right. Like everyone else they can’t come up with there own original look so they copy the lay out of NetFlix and others. I don’t use Sling but that’s how it looks.

  2. Rik Emmett says:

    When you watch a Sling channel through the fire tv live tv interface, it seems like the sling app opens up first and then starts playing the channel. When you try to exit the channel with the back button, then you wind up in the Sling app, instead of being taken back to the fire tv live tv interface. Seems like this app behavior should not be allowed by Amazon.

    • This behavior is essentially a compromise between Amazon and apps that integrate into the Fire TV guide. Amazon wants to give customers easy access to live channels, regardless of app, but apps don’t want to give up that much control. The compromise is that Amazon can list the content and send people directly to a channel, but apps get to keep you in the app when you leave the channel. Not all apps do this. Some do just bring up the stream in Amazon’s video player, but it seems like more and more are not going that route and using their own app’s video player.

  3. Blake says:

    I’ve used Sling for years, and for the most part it is a welcome improvement. It’s missing the small navigation guide that appears when you click up while watching something. I hope that comes back. Otherwise, it is easy to navigate and looks better.

  4. Rik Emmett says:

    Sling has their own cloud DVR that will allow you to record your local channels from the locast app. They give a 50 hours of cloud DVR with your service. They also give a free air tv mini streaming device if you prepay for two months of service. That’s significantly better than Amazons recast solution.

  5. Jo says:

    I’ve been a Sling customer for close to 2 years and I love it especially being able to watch TCM channel again without having to pay enormous fees for Cable TV. My only issue with the new app is that I’m having trouble finding out how to delete or clear the shows that are in the “continue watching” list.

    Anyone have the answer?

    • Jo says:

      BTW….I’ve tried fast forwarding the video to the end and it does clear it from the list, but only for shows without ad supported commercials. Then it seems like it has to play out on its till the end, which can be a long wait if you’ve only played a minute or two of a show. Ugh… The old app allowed us to clear away any not fully watched shows with the click of the finger. Still wondering if anyone has the answer. Thanks!

    • Kathy says:

      I cannot figure it out? Its driving me nuts! I FF to the end and it just starts over and won’t delete. Grr! After 3 years, I’m thinking of getting a new tv provider. This new interface has wrecked it for me.

  6. Ken says:

    I would like to be able to choose to use the new updated Sling interface or the original. I think the new one is way to cumbersome to easily navigate. I don’t need massive thumbnails on the homepage.

    • DEBERH says:

      I agree! Since the new format was implemented, recording any international subscription program episode works for the next upcoming episode, even when it was set to NEW EPISODES or NEW EPISODES & RERUNS! Only one US channel, ABC News Live with David Muir records every new episode. The DVR shows 3.1/200 Used, it is almost empty. I spent twice almost an hour each on a Chat with Tech Support. On the second chat, the tech gave up and asked me to have another tech call me up on my phone to go through the settings – that call never came. I am paying for the DVR but it became useless and unreliable after SLING made the changes.

  7. Jennifer Bumpkiss says:

    What would really be nice would be to be able to customize the default starting page. I have very few channels that I watch. I would like to be able to go directly there.

    • Jo says:

      Hi Jennifer.
      I basically watch only Turner Classic Movies and 1 or 2 other channels so I understand your frustration.

      Have you tried creating your own “favorites” list of channels? I’ve done this and a row of my favorite channels show up on the home screen between the row of Recommended Shows and Browse Categories. You can do this by going to the far left side of your screen where the column pops up with SEARCH, HOME, GUIDE, DVR, & ON DEMAND. If you choose Guide option it will list every channel available-then you can click on the small next to the channels you want to be your favorites. This will now create that listing on the home page I mentioned OR it will list your favorites first in the Guide lineup once created. Sorry I’m not more tech savvy or aware of the correct lingo for interface issues. Hope I’ve been somewhat helpful!

      • Jo says:

        Whoops! I didn’t realize that emojis don’t appear on the comments posts. My sentence should say,

        “then you can click on the small ‘HEART’ next to your favorite channels”.

        I used a heart emoji in the sentence. Sorry. : – )

  8. Jack Ivers says:

    The new interface is a disaster. Programs that were recorded previously disappeared or don’t record. The fast forward changed to be so fast it’s unusable and you can’t fast forward thru ads. It changed from a readable, usable guide to a confusing mash. I canceled and moved elsewhere. It may be worth it to me to pay for one of the higher priced services, even though there are only a handful of programs I want to watch.

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