Fire TV

Apple hires former Netflix executive and Amazon Fire TV chief to head up Apple TV business

Apple appears poised to shake up its Apple TV business amid data showing that sales of the media-streaming box saw a year-over-year decline. Apple TV was last refreshed in October 2015.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple in February hired Timothy D. Twerdahl to lead Apple TV operations and beef up teams seeking content deals.

Twerdahl is the former head of Amazon’s Fire TV operating unit. Prior to his tenure at Amazon, he served as an executive at Netflix and later as a Vice President in charge of consumer devices at Roku. He was also Vice President of Products at smartwatch startup WIMM Labs from 2009 to 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Amazon responds to new Apple TV with updated Fire TV box with 4K support and Alexa search

Eight days have passed since Apple has taken the wraps off its fourth-generation $149 Apple TV featuring downloadable apps and games, universal search with Siri and more, and now Amazon has conveniently rolled out its second-generation Fire TV.

Unlike the new Apple TV which disables 4K video output in software, the new Fire TV supports 4K video streaming right out of the box. It includes a new voice-enabled remote and comes outfitted with Alexa, which is basically Amazon’s version of Siri.

Amazon launches Fire TV Stick, a $39 HDMI dongle

Having released its $99 set top box in April 2014, the Fire TV, that also doubles as an Android-driven games console, the online retail giant Amazon on Monday took on Google’s Chromecast with a $35 HDMI dongle dubbed the Fire TV Stick.

Amazon is calling the Fire TV Stick “the most powerful streaming media stick.” And at just $39, it’s within reach of average consumers who need a pocket-sized device to wirelessly beam their media and apps from an Android phone or tablet (iOS coming soon) to a big screen TV.

Xbox One SmartGlass app now lets you record game clips and more

Less than two weeks following an update which has enabled Xbox One owners to install games on their console remotely, using their iOS device, the Windows giant Microsoft today pushed another update adding nearly a dozen cool new features.

For starters, the free iPhone and iPad application now allows you to record game clips remotely, too.

And in a series of social improvements, the app now lets players share and post activity feed items and post status updates to their activity feed, as well as browse through their activity feed directly on their profile page.

Xbox One SmartGlass now lets you install Xbox games remotely, live TV streaming due soon

Software giant Microsoft today pushed a nice little update to its Xbox One companion app for the iPhone and iPad, SmartGlass.

Version 2.8 is now available in the App Store, providing a handy new feature letting you buy and install Xbox games and other content remotely, from your iOS device.

Moreover, the application now supports in-app browsing of new and popular games, add-ons and bundles.

You can even rate your favorite Xbox game clips and activity feed entries, as well as view shared Activity Feed and Game Clips — all within the app. And in a future SmartGlass update due later this year, Microsoft will add ability to stream live TV locally to your iPhone or iPad…

Flappy Bird returns as an Amazon Fire TV-exclusive with new features

It’s been nearly 6 months since Dong Nguyen pulled his smash hit Flappy Bird from the App Store. The game was reportedly earning over $50,000 per day in revenue at that time, but Nguyen didn’t like the added attention it brought him, so he pulled the plug.

As he promised, though, Flappy Bird has made its triumphant return as ‘Flappy Birds Family,’ bringing along with it a new multiplayer mode and other additional features. Unfortunately, it looks like the title is exclusive to Amazon’s Fire TV platform for now…

Cable-cutters, rejoice: HBO shows arriving to Fire TV and Amazon Prime on May 21

No one can touch Amazon when it comes to the breadth and size of its content library and today’s announcement just reinforces the notion. The online retail giant has cut a landmark and unheard-of deal with Home Box Office Inc. (HBO), an American premium cable and satellite television network that in my opinion has the best original TV shows anywhere.

Under the terms of the exclusive multi-year agreement, both Amazon Prime members and owners of the recently introduced $99 Fire TV set-top box will soon be able to stream HBO’s old shows three years after they’ve aired and at no additional charge. Catch 22: HBO is reserving new shows for existing subscribers and you’ll need to subscribe to Amazon’s $99 per year Prime Instant Video service.

Still, this is huge. Firstly, you won’t need an HBO cable TV subscription at all to stream the shows. And secondly, online-only subscriptions to HBO were previously non-existent. Now, Apple TV owners are able to access HBO content via the HBO GO app on their Home screen, but this requires a subscription with a cable or satellite provider and therefore doesn’t appeal to cable-cutters…

Fire TV companion apps, Second Screen and Remote, hitting iOS soon

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…

Amazon unveils its Apple TV competitor: meet the $99 Fire TV set-top box

Amazon has just taken the wraps off its new media-streaming device designed to compete with the likes of Apple’s $99 Apple TV hockey puck, Roku devices and other media-streaming boxes available to cable-cutters today.

It’s rather predictably called the Fire TV in a nod to the successful Kindle Fire tablet brand, costs $99 and runs a forked Android version code-named ‘Mojito’.

Powered by a quad-core processor with 2GB RAM and a dedicated graphics processor, the set-top box is capable of streaming full HD 1080p resolution video (1,920-by-1,080 pixels) and Amazon claims it’s three times more powerful than the Apple TV.

It supports 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus surround sound via HDMI and optical audio-out, has dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi, comes with a Bluetooth remote and ties into Amazon’s vast ecosystem of digital content licensed from Hollywood majors and broadcasters.

I don’t think Apple should be concerned because the Fire TV’s user interface appears clunky (I even like Chromecast’s better) and it’s hard to see much that isn’t already out there, though I have no doubt in my mind that the Fire TV is here to stay and tie existing Amazon customers even deeper into its ecosystem.

Read on for the full reveal…