Unboxing new hardware is always exciting. It’s even more special as a gamer and developer to open up the new Fire TV Gaming Edition. Mine arrived last week so I thought I’d take a little time out to show you what you get in the box.
For gamers the Fire TV Gaming Edition is a great value. Not only do you get the latest version of the Fire TV hardware but also our new redesigned controller, a 32 gig micro SD card and two popular games: Disney’s Ducktales and Shovel Knight.
When you open up the box you will see our new Fire TV Game Controller.[Read More]
Publish your first app to the Amazon Appstore between October 1st – November 1st and we'll help you drive installs, monetize, and scale with a Success Bundle worth up to $700 including:
• $100 Ad Campaign with Advertise Your App
• Doubled Earnings on up to $500 with the Amazon Mobile Ad Network
• $100 in AWS promotional credits
The Amazon Appstore is preloaded on Fire devices, Blackberry 10 and millions of other Android devices, including certain HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung phones to name a few, as well as certain Samsung and LG tablets. Fire tablets expand that reach even further - just in time for the holiday season. App purchases typically surge by 50% Thanksgiving week, and 400% during digital week. And when customers unbox their new Fire tablet, what’s the first thing they do? Start downloading apps and games of course! Now is the time to develop a new app or bring your existing Android app to Fire tablets.
Join us for a special webinar on how to make the most of the Amazon Success Bundle:
This post was originally published by Nate Trost on Gamasutra and republished here with permission.
There are no cave paintings warning of poor arcade conversions to the Atari 2600, but from a historical perspective there might as well be. Platform conversions have existed since the dawn of personal computers and gaming console systems. Whether a popular Apple game ‘ported’ to Atari or Commodore, or an arcade hit translated to the first gaming consoles, conversions have always been a part of the gaming industry. Some things haven’t changed from those early days; good conversions excite and delight players happy to have a popular game available on their chosen hardware. Poor conversions evoke a particular deep brand of distain. Decades later, the Atari 2600 port of Pac Man is still a poster child for the concept of a ‘shoddy port’. Nobody wants one of those!
They are coming to your platform, and they want 60 FPS!
At Trihedron, we have a long and extensive history of platform conversions, so it was an exciting opportunity to partner with Amazon and Yacht Club Games to bring Yacht Club’s critically acclaimed Shovel Knight to the new Amazon Fire TV. In many cases it can be a struggle to create a faithful adaptation of a game on a new system, whether due to technical challenges from hardware limitations or from trying to modernize an older legacy game on a new platform, enhancing without losing the original charm. There are plenty of conversion retrospectives which focus on detailing these issues, and exploring how various knotty problems were overcome. Shovel Knight was not one of those conversions! Instead, we will look at the factors that made Shovel Knight for Amazon Fire TV a relatively smooth conversion and why the desired end result was achieved without fountains of blood, sweat and tears. That Shovel Knight fit nicely on Amazon Fire TV wasn’t a happy accident, but rather a combination of solid technical foundations and being pointed at powerful hardware that fit the envelope of already optimized code.[Read More]
Supporting the announcement of the new Amazon Fire TV family, Amazon’s App Testing Service (ATS) has been updated to work seamlessly with Fire OS 5 and Fire TV devices. In as little as 90 seconds, you can receive a detailed report of potential issues that could affect compatibility with the Amazon Appstore—including guidance on how to resolve them before publishing. ATS can also run your app on actual Amazon Fire TV devices, providing a comprehensive compatibility report (including screenshots) in as little as 15 minutes.[Read More]
Last year, Amazon introduced the first Amazon Fire TV, combining voice search that actually works, fast and powerful performance, and an open ecosystem to deliver the easiest way to watch Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO NOW, Hulu, WatchESPN, and more on your big-screen TV. Since launch, Fire TV has become the #1 best-selling Amazon device category, with Fire TV Stick quickly becoming Amazon’s fastest-selling product ever. Today, Amazon is making those best-selling products even better. Introducing the next generation of Amazon Fire TV—the new Amazon Fire TV with support for 4K Ultra HD, and the new Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote. The new Amazon Fire TV is available for pre-order today for just $99.99 at www.amazon.com/firetv, and will start shipping on October 5. Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote is available for pre-order today for $49.99 at www.amazon.com/firetvstick, and will start shipping October 22. Fire TV Stick is also still available for purchase for $39.99 at www.amazon.com/fire-tv-stick.[Read More]
In Dev Chat – Short Answers to Big Questions, our new video series of short videos created by Amazon Appstore, developers of successful apps and games answer your questions in less than 90 seconds.
In this edition, the people behind Ministry of Sound explain how they leveraged Amazon’s digital and physical distribution opportunities to monetize across business units and provide valuable insights into the process of developing an app for Fire TV.
Ministry of Sound is a global media and entertainment company with an impressive range of interrelated business units. In addition to their famed London club featuring dance and house music, Ministry of Sound combines one of the world’s largest independent labels with a tour and events business, a digital radio and video streaming presence and an apparel business. Amazon facilitates sales of both physical and digital services for Ministry of Sound, meaning that they can sell physical copies of albums as well as promote their radio app all with one partner.[Read More]
Starting today, developers can sign up for the Fire OS 5 Developer Preview for Amazon Fire TV. This preview is designed for developers looking to get their apps and games ready for the next major release of Fire OS for Amazon Fire TV. Fire OS 5 is based on Android 5.1 (Lollipop) and API 22. Since this is a significant upgrade to the existing Fire OS 3 (API 17) for Fire TV, we wanted to make sure that as many developers as possible can sign up for the preview and test their app or game. The key new features for Amazon Fire TV developers in Fire OS 5 are support for Android TV and the v17 Leanback library. If you have an app that supports Android TV or Leanback, those features should work as-is in the Amazon Fire TV developer preview. Here are a few of the other features available in the Fire OS 5 Developer Preview for Amazon Fire TV:[Read More]
After working on classic Nintendo franchises like Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country, Rhys Lewis made the jump from AAA to indie development earlier this year with the release of Star Drift. Combining slick shooter gameplay with intuitive one-touch controls, Star Drift quickly became a fan favorite when it debuted on iOS in February. Not long after, Lewis brought the game to Fire TV and in the process created a stellar example of how developers can adapt a touch screen game for a big-screen living room experience.[Read More]
We are excited to announce the new Amazon Fling service. This new service is a cross-platform toolkit that enables mobile developers to build rich multi-screen experiences for Amazon Fire TV. At its core, the Amazon Fling SDK allows sending video, audio and images from iOS and Android mobile apps to Amazon Fire TV. In addition to flinging media content to Amazon Fire TV, developers can also leverage two-way communication between Amazon Fire TV and mobile apps to create engaging second screen experiences.
The new SDK is designed to simplify the process of dealing with underlying network discovery and communication technologies that normally make this type of connection difficult to implement. The SDK offers a standardized way to communicate between your apps over a local network allowing developers to focus on building new and unique user experiences. Even developers who don’t have an existing Amazon Fire TV app can take advantage of the SDK’s media playback capabilities since a default built-in receiver plays these for you automatically. This is one of the quickest ways to leverage the power of our service and the built in functionality of the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick.
Out of the box it is straightforward to leverage our new SDK to send URLs of videos, images and audio files to the Amazon Fire TV. This allows you to take media content and easily play them back on the big screen from a mobile app. But flinging media is not all you can do with it. If you dig a little deeper into the SDK you can use mobile devices as a second screen or a companion app to what is running on the Amazon Fire TV. Here are some great examples of how developers are already leveraging the SDK in their own apps:
Red Karaoke uses an iPhone to send audio to their Amazon Fire TV app.
Karaoke Party by Red Karaoke, one of the first karaoke smartphone apps in the market, is leveraging the SDK to display song lyrics and videos on Amazon Fire TV. Additionally, Red Karaoke uses the SDK to send audio from the microphone on the customer’s device to the TV. Customers can now have a true Karaoke experience in their living room.
With Fling, Rivet Radio customers get the capability to share music and videos on the largest screen in the house.
Rivet Radio, a digital news radio broadcaster, allows people to listen to news on the TV. By leveraging Amazon Fire TV’s built in media playback receiver, Rivet Radio lets listeners easily transition between listening on their personal device to sharing content with everyone in the living room.
There are more great apps that use our SDK coming and we are looking forward to seeing what developers come up with.
The new SDK is available today with support for iOS, Android and Fire OS. To get started visit the SDK page and download the .zip file. You can also read the getting started documentation, which will walk you through setting up your development environment for Android or iOS, Integrating the SDK into your Android or iOS app and integrating the Amazon Fling SDK into your Amazon Fire TV app.
The SDK supports rich, two-way communications with your Amazon Fire TV app. You can build custom second screen experiences with the following APIs:
If you don’t have an Amazon Fire TV app, you can use the Amazon Fire TV default media player (already installed). If you’ve created an Amazon Fire TV app already, you can integrate the receiver SDK that will enable people to discover, remotely install (if needed) and control your Amazon Fire TV app while flinging media content to your media player.
Our new SDK makes it easy for developers to adapt their existing apps that have Chromecast functionality to fling to Amazon Fire TV. For more information on how to do this, check out our guides to integrating the SDK with an existing Android Chromecast app or iOS Chromecast app in the developer portal.
With our new SDK, you can leverage the built in media players to send the content of your app or game directly to Amazon Fire TV. Being a developer for the Amazon Appstore is completely free- sign up today and get started. If you need some more information on building apps and games for Amazon Fire TV, make sure to check out the following links:
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)
Big Buck Bunny is copyright 2008, Blender Foundation / www.bigbuckbunny.org and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0, available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/legalcode. Elephants Dream is copyright 2006, Blender Foundation/ Netherlands Media Art Institute/ www.elephantsdream.org and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.5, available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/legalcode.
In April, Amazon introduced Amazon Fire TV, and it quickly became the most wished for item by Prime members in 2014. Amazon Fire TV, made it easier for customers to watch Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, and more on their big-screen TV, and brought photos, music, and games to the living room. In October, we brought the same experience customers love about Amazon Fire TV—ease of use, great performance, and vast selection—to a smaller and even more affordable device - Fire TV Stick, which is the fastest-selling Amazon device ever.
This week, we announced that Amazon Fire TV has the fastest growing selection of any streaming media device. In just the last 3 months, Amazon has added over 600 channels, apps and games to the Amazon Fire TV platform—more than Roku and Apple TV in the same timeframe. Popular new titles include Popcornflix, Funny Or Die, GameFly, Candy Crush Saga, and Fox News.
For developers, one of the most exciting prospects of publishing your game on Amazon Fire TV is that you can run Android games directly on the TV. If you are already building games for Android, you can use the same codebase you currently have, and make that game playable on Amazon Fire TV.
While you may be familiar with targeting Android tablets and phones, there are a few things you need to consider for your app to run correctly on Amazon Fire TV. Below is a quick round-up of some of the great content we’ve created since the device launched to help make the transition easy.
Gone are the days where you can make a game and publish it to a single platform and expect to be successful. Like any business that sells consumer products, you need to go where the people are. That means the games you make should run on a multitude of different platforms and accept any number of different input types. With that in mind I have outlined what I call “responsive game design,” which is modeled loosely after some of the core concepts of responsive web design. It’s also a framework that will help you think about enabling your games to scale across multiple platforms. Click here to learn more.
If you’re porting an existing Android app to Fire TV, you have to add support for user input from the Amazon Fire TV remote and maybe the Amazon Fire game controller. Luckily, basic controller support is already built into Android. You can leverage the Android input device APIs and the game controller API from the Amazon Fire TV SDK to get your game ready to publish in no time. Here are the top ten things you should do in order to get your game ready for Amazon Fire TV customers.
While you may be familiar with targeting Android tablets and phones, there are a few things you need to consider for your app to run correctly on Amazon Fire TV. This includes understanding the layout, dimensions and orientation of Amazon Fire TV views, changes to the user experience when interacting with a TV (10’ away on average), UI and navigation patterns, as well as some other TV-specific gotchas such as overscan and color reproduction. Here are some practical tips to help you get your Android apps looking good on Fire TV.
Fire TV Stick is one of the most affordable devices on the market for creating apps and casual games intended for the big screen. The best part is if you are already building for Android, Fire TV stick is another great platform to help grow your audience. In this post we cover how to get started, optimizing for Fire TV Stick as well as the hardware/software differences between the Fire TV Stick and Fire TV to help make your apps and games run great on both devices.
Xamarin is a cross platform development environment that leverages the power of the C# programming language and takes full advantage of native hardware acceleration. Xamarin includes a suite of tools that allow you to test, build, and analyze your apps across all of the major mobile platforms. Utilizing Xamarin you can now publish your own apps and games to all Amazon Fire devices. This includes Amazon Fire tablets, Amazon Fire phone, Amazon Fire TV and the recently announced Amazon Fire TV Stick. Click here to learn how to get your app or game running on Fire TV using Xamarin.
Fire TV and Fire TV Stick both support HTML5 web apps. The Web App Starter Kit for Fire TV is a new open source project intended to help developers get up to speed quickly creating a simple media-oriented app for this exciting new web platform. Features of the project include an example user interface designed for the 10-foot user experience, support for the Fire TV remote control, and sample components to create and customize a media app. You can learn more about the Web App Starter Kit for Fire TV here.
We are excited to announce that Amazon Fire TV will now support the use of USB-connected external storage such as flash drives. This will enable customers to expand the built-in storage on the device so that they can install even more apps and games! For developers, this now allows you to specify if your app or game should be installed to the external drive or internally which was originally the default option. This is also a great opportunity for game developers who may have had concerns that their game would be too big for the Fire TV’s built-in 8 gigs of storage.
Making the switch from storing your App or game to external storage is a simple process that will require a small change to the manifest file. To enable your app to be installed on USB storage, modify your Android manifest (AndroidManifest.xml) to include the installLocation attribute of the <manifest> element:
android:installLocation="preferExternal" ... >
The value of installLocation must be one of the following three values:
(Recommended for most Apps) Install your App on external USB storage when available.
Fire TV chooses where to install your App.
(For Apps that play DRM-protected media) Install your App on internal device storage.
If you are using a 3rd party framework or IDE, check with their documentation on how to enable this. In Unity for example, you can change this in the publishing settings when you have Android selected as the target platform.
While we strongly suggest enabling this behavior for most games, be aware that Apps, which play DRM-protected media, should use the ‘internalOnly’ flag, to maintain stability if USB storage becomes unavailable while your App is running. Also, you’ll need to decide if you are going to give you App or game write access to internal or external storage.
The Fire TV platform will provide the user interface to manage USB storage, to fail gracefully if that storage is disconnected or becomes unavailable, and to enable the user to manage the space on both device and USB storage. Please note that external USB storage is not available for Fire TV Stick.
Check out the following links below to learn more:
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)
The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is the largest annual gathering of professional video game developers providing a place for the industry to collaborate, network and share best practices for creating compelling game experiences. This year Amazon hosted a full Developer Day with sessions that covered building Android games for our full line of devices, Amazon Echo, Fire Tablets, Fire TV and Fire Phone, how to build better cloud gaming experiences, reaching fans with Twitch, and applying in-app monetization best practices based on Amazon's IAP data.
These sessions were previously only available to GDC attendees, and we’re excited to announce that we’ve made all of the Amazon GDC Developer Day sessions freely available online. Enjoy!
An Overview of the Amazon Devices and Services for Game Developers
David Isbitski, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
Alf Tan, Head of Games Business Development, Amazon
Vlad Suglobov, CEO, G5 Entertainment
An overview of Amazon's current developer ecosystem. Learn how you can take advantage of AWS services specifically targeted for Game Developers, Amazon's Appstore and the new line of consumer Fire devices like Amazon Echo, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire tablets, as well as monetization services such as in-app purchasing. Plus, hear how G5 entertainment has had success on the Amazon platform from G5 CEO Vlad Suglobov.
Top Tips for Porting Unity Games to Fire Devices
Jesse Freeman, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
In this talk, we cover important tips for porting Unity games over to Fire TV, Fire tablets and Fire phone. Through code examples, we'll demo how to support multiple resolutions for pixel perfect Orthographic and Perspective Cameras, abstracting player input to support keyboard, controller and touch, and optimization tips for C# for the best performance. We'll also show how to deploy to our devices and get your game up and running on Fire OS. You'll walk away knowing what it takes to publish to the Amazon Appstore and help expand your game's user base.
How to Evolve Players into Fans
Peter Heinrich, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
We’ve analyzed the top mobile games to see what best practices make them stand out from the crowd. Several trends emerging now will amplify those best practices, and games will have more opportunity than ever to excel. In the future, the top games will have fully realized fan bases that will drive their user acquisition and engagement engines. That fan base will include players but also content creators, advocates and potential new customers — this will open up a wider range of monetization options. Hear more about how top mobile games drive greater engagement and revenue and learn how to you can do this with your own game.
Build and Deploy Your Mobile Game with AWS
Dhruv Thukral, Gaming Solutions Architect, Amazon
Tara Walker, Technical Evangelist, Amazon
Developing a successful mobile game today is about more than just the game: Users expect backend services like user authentication, downloadable content, and social features. Using our AWS Mobile SDK for iOS and Android, it’s easier than ever to build a game with these services. This session will provide a step-by-step approach to add features to your game such as user identity management, dynamic content updates, cross-platform data sync, and more. We’ll demonstrate how to use the AWS Mobile SDK to securely interact with services such as Cognito, DynamoDB, S3, and EC2. Finally, we’ll provide a few common architecture patterns and scalability tips for AWS game backends.
How We Made a Game No Fun
Mike Hines, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
There are lots of suggestions about how to make a game fun. Best practices are everywhere, but you can't just follow them blindly. To create a fun game, you have to figure out how best practices integrate into your specific game. Watch what we did wrong, and what we learned along the way.
Connecting with Your Customers - Building Successful Mobile Games through the Power of AWS Analytics
Nate Wiger, Principal Gaming Solutions Architect, Amazon
Free to play is now the standard for mobile and social games. But succeeding in free-to-play is not easy: You need in-depth data analytics to gain insight into your players so you can monetize your game. Learn how to leverage new features of AWS services such as Elastic MapReduce, Amazon S3, Kinesis, and Redshift to build an end-to-end analytics pipeline. Plus, we’ll show you how to easily integrate analytics with other AWS services in your game.
Deploying a Low-Latency Multiplayer Game Globally: Loadout
Nate Wiger, Principal Gaming Solutions Architect, Amazon
This is a deep-dive straight into the guts of running a low-latency multiplayer game, such as a first-person shooter, on a global scale. We dive into architectures that enable you to split apart your back-end APIs from your game servers, and Auto Scale them independently. See how to run game servers in multiple AWS regions such as China and Frankfurt, and integrate them with your central game stack. We’ll even demo this in action, using AWS CloudFormation and Chef to deploy Unreal Engine game servers.
How Game Developers Reach New Customers with Twitch
Marcus Graham, Director of Community & Education at Twitch
Ernest Le, Director Publisher & Developer Partnerships at Twitch
Twitch is the largest live video platform and community for gamers with more than 100 million visitors per month. We want to connect gamers around the world by allowing them to broadcast, watch, and chat from everywhere they play. In this session, learn how game developers are creating engaging experiences and reaching new customers via the Twitch platform.
Garnett Lee and Tyler Cooper hosted a steam during GDC this year on Twitch. The guys were joined by representatives from 2K games for XCOM: Enemy Within, Tellate for Game of Thrones, Ep. 2, Tripwire for Killing Floor Calamity and ended the night with Hipster Whale and a Crossy Road competition! If you are a gamer interested in seeing first-hand what the current batch of Android games looks like on the big screen be sure check out the stream here.
For more information about getting started with the Amazon Appstore, Amazon Fire devices, or how to submit your game check out the following additional resources:
In March a new over the air software update was released for Amazon Fire TV (version 1.5) and Fire TV Stick (version 1.1) that adds a bunch of new features to these devices, both of which enable customers to use apps or play games in the living room as well as watch video and other content. At the same time a new version of the Fire TV SDK (which is for both devices) was released.
This blog is about what these new features mean to app developers and Fire TV/Fire TV Stick users. Below, I first focus on the new developer related features and then provide a summary of the remaining new features that are purely user centric. Note: some of the features are not available on Fire TV Stick and this is highlighted below.
This feature is for Fire TV users only and enables them to download apps and games to an USB storage device (hard drive or USB memory stick) that is plugged in to the Fire TV. This is in addition to the built-in 8GB available to users and it obviously means that users have the opportunity to download additional apps some of which could be yours!
By default, an app is installed in the internal storage, but if the internal storage is low and there is external USB storage available, the app may be installed onto that external storage instead. As a developer you might be wondering, where you should install your app. In most cases, you could go for either, however, if your app plays DRM-protected media then it must be installed in the internal storage. Note also that any data or files that you write to storage from your app, is always installed in the internal storage even if your app is installed in the USB storage.
You can specify that you prefer for your app to be installed to USB storage by modifying your app’s Android manifest file (AndroidManifest.xml) to include the installLocation attribute of the <manifest> element as shown below:
See this article on the Amazon developer portal for more details.
Prior to the update, you could only connect to a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick device for development purposes over a network; for Fire TV this meant an ADB connection over a wireless or wired Ethernet connection and for Fire TV Stick this was by a wireless connection, as it does not have an Ethernet socket.
Now, you can also connect to either of the Fire TV devices via ADB over USB. This is really useful as it gives you the ability to debug your app over a faster connection. Additionally, it enables you to avoid having to connect to a wireless network in locations where you might get charged or where bandwidth is low or where perhaps you are worried about security.
Fire TV supports the use of a mouse that is connected via USB or Bluetooth. If you’ve created an app that supports pointer-based input, prior to the update, the mouse pointer was always displayed as a large circle. Now, you can display a traditional mouse pointer symbol that may be more appealing to your end customers.
By default in the updated software, the pointer is the large circle but you can change it to a mouse pointer via an edit to the Android Manifest file as shown below:
<action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
<meta-data android:name="com.amazon.input.cursor" android:value="pointer"/>
See this article on the Amazon developer portal for more details.
A set of additional new user features was introduced in the update. These are:
The new features introduced in the March update for the devices further enhance their capabilities and the new SDK brings some real benefits to developers.
You can develop for Fire TV and Fire TV Stick using Android Java with for example the Eclipse or Android Studio IDE. Alternatively, you can develop using HTML5 and a framework such as Cordova. This article is a great starting point to learn how to port your app existing app to the platform or to create a new app.
Here are some more links to useful articles related to development for Fire TV and Fire TV Stick:
That’s it for now. There’s never been a better time to start developing for the living room!
Simon Howard (@SimonH109)
Amazon is hosting a Developer Day on April 25th at the Cross Campus in Santa Monica, California. Amazon Developer Evangelists will share industry best practices and help mobile developers learn how to grow their app business via the Amazon Appstore. Amazon technology leaders will be on-hand to answer developer questions and lead talks on topics such as building apps and games for Android devices, BlackBerry, Fire tablets, Fire phone, Amazon Fire TV, and how to build voice controlled experiences for Amazon Echo. Attendees will also learn best practices around how to make fun games and to market your game to influencers and build a fan base.
The format of the workshop will be split between morning lectures and afternoon “App Hours.” The App Hours will allow developers to get 1:1 support to publish and tests their own apps and games to the Amazon Appstore, guidance around building apps and games with Android, Unity and Xamarin, and hands on experience with the Amazon Mobile App SDK, Fire Phone SDK, Fire TV SDK and Amazon Echo SDK code samples. Developers will also be rewarded with Amazon gift cards for successful app submissions to the Amazon Appstore during the App Hours’ time period.
Already have an Android app? Bring your APK for a chance to win cool prizes! Click here to register now!
Check-in and Breakfast
An Overview of the Amazon Devices and Services for Mobile Developers
David Isbitski, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
We will start the day off with an overview of Amazon's current developer ecosystem. Learn how you can take advantage of Amazon’s Mobile Apps SDK, Amazon's Appstore and the new line of consumer Fire devices like Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire tablets, as well as monetization services such as in-app purchasing.
Building Spoken Language Apps and Experiences for Amazon Echo
David Isbitski, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
Echo is a new device from Amazon designed around your voice. It's always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Tucked under Echo's light ring is an array of seven microphones. When Echo detects the wake word, it lights up and streams audio to the cloud, where it leverages the power of Amazon Web Services to recognize and respond to your request. With the release of the developer SDK you can now build your own apps and experiences for Amazon Echo. This session will cover everything you need to know starting off with how to use the SDK, how to build your first app, and end with the app submission process.
How We Made a Game No Fun
Peter Heinrich, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
There are lots of suggestions about how to make a game fun. Best practices are everywhere, but you can't just follow them blindly. To create a fun game, you have to figure out how best practices integrate into your specific game. Come see what we did wrong, and what we learned along the way.
How to Evolve Players into Fans
Peter Heinrich, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
We’ve analyzed the top mobile games to see what best practices make them stand out from the crowd. Several trends emerging now will amplify those best practices, and games will have more opportunity than ever to excel. In the future, the top games will have fully realized fan bases that will drive their user acquisition and engagement engines. That fan base will include players but also content creators, advocates and potential new customers — this will open up a wider range of monetization options. Come see how top mobile games drive more engagement and revenue and learn how to you can do this with your own game.
Get 1:1 support to publish and test apps and games to the Amazon Appstore. Learn how to build apps and games with Android, Unity and Xamarin. Get hands on experience with the Amazon Mobile App SDK, Fire Phone SDK, Fire TV SDK and Amazon Echo SDK code samples.
Raffle and Wrap-Up
Seating is limited so be sure to register for the event to reserve your spot. Hope to see you there!
The New Web App Starter Kit Features - Subcategories, YouTube Support, Live Streaming, in App Purchases and More - Make It Even Easier to Create Engaging Fire TV Media Apps
Launched last December, the Web App Starter Kit for Fire TV is an open source project intended to help developers get up to speed quickly creating simple media-oriented apps for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. The Starter Kit provides a basic media app template that is designed for the 10-foot user experience and includes UI controls, support for the Fire TV remote, sample UI components, support for various data formats and more. Since its release, the Starter Kit has been used to create dozens of apps already live in the Amazon Appstore for Fire TV, including Wall Street Journal Live, University of California TV, University of Washington TV, Gear Live TV, and Motorz TV.
You can find the Starter Kit on the GitHub project page.
The latest release, version 1.2, just launched and we want to give you an update on some of the new additions that benefit both developers and end users alike. These include technical improvements such as a streamlined build process and code enhancements to help reduce app development time, as well as a host of new client features. The Starter Kit now has support for YouTube videos, podcast feeds, a cleaner user interface, continuous video playback, search, live streaming videos and more. The end result is a richer code base that improves the developer experience and helps jump start the creation of great looking, functional, full-featured media apps.
Here are some more details about some of the cool new features we've added.
In addition to general bug fixes, code optimization and documentation cleanup, we've also completely reorganized and streamlined the original build process to make it much easier to create and manage multiple apps. This gives developers more flexibility, and gives us the ability to include a variety of sample media apps that show off all the features and functionality available in the Starter Kit. Apps are now self-contained in a src/projects folder, which hold unique files for that app, while pulling files from the src/common folder during the build process. The result is a much more organized project structure, allowing developers to create more than one media app within the same source tree, enabling both code reuse and the capability of easily individualizing each app as needed.
We've also made it much easier for developers to customize the functionality and look of their apps without having to dig into the project code as much. The build process allows for customizing the included CSS and assets, and the project's init.js configuration file allows developer to enable/disable various options such as button display, player types, data models, logo and more. For more specifics on all the various options available for developers, check out the documentation hosted on the GitHub project page.
One of the most important new features that we've added to the Starter Kit is the ability to use YouTube as the source for an app's media content. We've integrated the official YouTube API and the YouTube HTML5 video player into the Starter Kit template so that developers can easily create YouTube-based Fire TV web apps. By simply adding in their YouTube API Developer Key, choosing a channel, and adjusting the project's initialization options, a developer can create a full-featured media app in very little time. The project gives developers the flexibility to choose to automatically add categories based on a channel's current section setup, or create a customized category menu with selected playlists, channels and even search terms. Below are screenshots of an example app created from the official Amazon Web Services YouTube channel, with the logo and categories automatically imported using the YouTube API.
When the user has selected a category (such as "Featured"), the screen displays a horizontal list of videos to browse and play. It's incredibly easy for content owners and developers to use the Starter Kit to quickly create custom media apps for their YouTube content.
The Starter Kit now gives developers the option to enable integrated search functionality, with no extra dev effort needed. For media apps that use a static data feeds such as JSON or MRSS, the search will be done on the client, returning results derived from the feed's media meta-data such as title and description. For apps using the YouTube template, the search will use the YouTube API to dynamically return results from the YouTube server. Below is a screenshot of a search for "Fire" in the above AWS YouTube channel app, with the results shown displayed in the same format as a category list.
Developers can easily customize their web apps using CSS to give a unique look and feel. We've provided several sample themes in the Starter Kit that show how easy it is to include a custom theme.css file to a project. Below is a screenshot of the AWS media app using a sample theme with a dark background, colored content titles and a custom category menu list that hovers over the list of videos rather than hiding them under a solid bar.
The Starter Kit has also added support for using Media RSS as a data source. This common XML data format used by thousands of websites was created for podcasting, and adopted by a variety of content providers as a standard media feed format. Developers can now easily create media apps from these feeds in minutes. Below is a screenshot of a sample media app created using the public video podcast feed for a popular tech blog This Week In Tech.
The first version of the Starter Kit only supported one row of media within a given category. This worked well for many apps, but most need one or more levels of content below that. We've now added the ability for apps to have multiple levels of subcategories contained within the media list. This allows apps based on the Starter Kit to support navigation hierarchies such as Show/Season/Episode, Genre/Subgenre/Movie or simply create playlists within categories to present more organized content to viewers. Below is a screenshot of an example app using the official Kindle YouTube channel. Each playlist within the "All Playlists" category is represented by a thumbnail image and a description, presented in the familiar horizontal format. When the user selects a playlist, they get a list of videos within that subcategory which they can select and play, or by hitting the back button, go back up to the playlist selection screen again.
In addition to the navigation enhancements above, the Starter Kit now has added nicer playback controls for when the end user is viewing a video. We've improved the skip functionality and interface, providing the developer with better control over the length of the skip, and the end user with a clearer indicator of how far they have skipped back or forward. We also added the option for videos to play one after another within a category. As a video is nearing its end, a dialog will appear with the title, description and thumbnail of the next video to be played, and a countdown timer shows how long before it automatically starts. The user can activate the next video immediately by hitting the select button on their remote, or wait for the countdown and not have to touch their remote at all. The screenshots below show these new user interface options in action with a video from AWS.
The Starter Kit includes a new custom HTML5 player that supports live internet video streams. The screenshots below show an example app created using NASA's popular live stream. The stream is displayed in a category list like a normal video, but is marked as live video. During playback, the stream is marked as being live, and controls that wouldn't work in a live stream (such as skip forward) are removed, making the user interface simpler and cleaner for end users.
Included in the Starter Kit is a new sample media app that shows how the Amazon In-App Purchasing system works for Fire TV web apps. Because of the potential complexity of subscriptions or media purchases, we decided to start with a more basic sample app that shows how IAP works by enabling users to purchase "upgrades" - in this case, custom app backgrounds. Below are screenshots of the IAP sample app in action. When a user clicks on the (large and obvious) Upgrades button, they are presented with the option to buy additional backgrounds for 99 cents each. If they select a background, they'll go through the standard Fire TV purchase process and the background will be unlocked for them to use. Though somewhat limited, the sample shows all the basic steps a developer will have to go through - adding graphics, descriptions, prices, etc. - to enable IAP content in their media app.
We hope you like the new features added so far and look forward to continuing to expand the Starter Kit functionality over the months to come. We'd love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please use the GitHub project page to send them to us.