Tucked away as a side note in Amazon’s Fire TV announcement last week is an interesting confirmation of a companion iOS app for the set-top box that’s scheduled to launch later this year in the App Store.
The software will act as a second screen solution allowing Fire TV owners to fling Amazon TV shows and movies from their iPhone or iPad to the $99 set-top box, providing remote functionality with playback controls, support for Amazon’s X-Ray technology that pulls media metadata from the web and more.
In addition to Second Screen, the official Fire TV app for smartphones and tablets will launch soon, providing virtual controls for touch-enabled games…
According to Amazon, the forthcoming Second Screen for iOS app is due “later this year”.
The software is already available on Amazon’s on Kindle Fire HDX tablet.
In addition to sending movies and TV shows from your iOS device to the Fire TV and controlling content playback, Second Screen will let users check out supplemental X-Ray information on their iOS device as content plays on the set-top box.
With X-Ray you can see information about cast and crew, the names of songs as they play, as well as a list of all music in the movie or TV show, trivia items in context with the action on the screen, and character backstories so you can easily remind yourself of the character’s history.
X-Ray is exclusive to Amazon and is powered by IMDb, Amazon’s vast online database of information related to films, television programs and video games.
The Fire TV has built-in support for X-Ray technology so folks can check out information about cast and crew, trivia, goofs and synchronized lyrics directly on the box. And with X-Ray for Music, lyrics display and scroll line-by-line automatically as the song plays. X-Ray for Music will be available starting next month.
Additionally, Kindle Fire owners can wirelessly mirror anything that’s displayed on their tablet to a Fire TV, similar to how Apple’s AirPlay Mirroring technology works.
Amazon says that this feature will be available on any Miracast-enabled phone or tablet “starting later this year”. And because the Fire TV supports the DIAL standard, developers will be able to create mobile apps that enable multi-screen experiences.
It addition to standard media-streaming features, the Fire TV’s biggest selling point is the ability to run games and provide voice input via the include remote that has a built-in microphone.
Playing downloadable games requires Amazon’s Fire TV game controller, sold separately.
“The Fire game controller also intelligently manages power by automatically going to sleep when not in use, and waking at a touch of a button, so you get up to 55 hours of gaming on a pair of AA batteries,” said the online retail giant.
The Fire TV controller has dual analog sticks and a complete assortment of controls via seven dedicated hardware buttons and a directional pad. Multiple controllers can be paired with a Fire TV and there’s a dedicated GameCircle button that brings up your leaderboards, achievements and friend list.
Fire TV runs on Amazon’s forked Android version, the Fire OS codenamed ‘Mojito’. Android itself supports standard USB input devices like mice and wireless keyboards and game controllers, but it’s unclear whether Fire TV only works with Amazon’s own Bluetooth controller or if it supports any standard USB-based controller.
What we do know, however, is that Amazon will be releasing the Fire TV app for smartphones and tablets that will provide the full remote functionality and controls for touch-enabled games. The app will be available “starting next month.”
The $39.99 controller comes with a free copy of Sev Zero and 1,000 Amazon Coins (a $10 value) for purchasing games.
Amazon made a lot of fuss about a survey from tracking firm Qwilt which has found the online retailer passing both Apple and Hulu in streaming video usage.
Fire TV is available for $99 from Amazon.com.
Eligible customers get a free 30-day trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime when they purchase a Fire TV.