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January 13, 2015

Paul Cutsinger

Since it’s launch in April, the Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick has quickly become the best-selling streaming media box on Amazon. With this, app developers have an exciting set of new customers to reach using your Android games running directly on the TV.

To transition a tablet or phone app to Amazon Fire TV, it’s most critical to support the TV remote and/or Game Controller.

In this video blog post, we’ll build an app from scratch for Fire TV using Unity. You’ll see how to get a game object reacting to events from the TV remote and Game Controller and you’ll see how to test your app on the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. You can also learn more about building Fire TV support into your app on the blog.

Start a new project in Unity

Add the game object that we’ll control with the controller.

Create movement

In this segment we create the script that will receive TV remote and the Game Controller events and cause the Game Object to move with the D-Pad or joystick.  We use the Unity Input Manager and the default horizontal and vertical inputs so that both keyboard and controllers work.

For reference, here are the Unity Input Manager and KeyCode values for the Fire TV Controllers

(Timestamp 1:36)

Add button support

Next we add support for Back, Menu and the A buttons. This illustrates how you’d pause, show a menu, and perform game actions like jump or shoot.

(Timestamp 9:15)

Test the app on Fire TV

Now you need to build the app from Unity and run it on device using Android Debug Bridge (ADB). In this segment, we’ll go through that step by step.

If you don’t yet have ADB, here’s a post to help you set up ADB.

(Timestamp 20:06)

Use the Fire TV controllers to move the cube around and change it’s colors

More importantly, you’ll be able to see how easy it is to respond to controller events in your app.

(Timestamp 24:21)


Now, how will you to integrate controller support into your game play and UX?

Ready to Submit Your App or Game?

  • To learn more about the Amazon Appstore, click here
  • Click here to register for free as an Amazon Developer. 
  • Click here to download the Amazon Mobile SDK. 
  • Click here to submit your app

Please let me know if you have any questions.

-Paul Cutsinger (@PaulCutsinger)

 

January 12, 2015

Jesse Freeman

In this five part series you will get the basic foundation you will need to get started. In part one we’ll cover picking a framework and why you should use one designed specifically for game development.

Whether you are a seasoned game developer or just getting started making your own game, chances are you are going to need a good game framework to build upon. A game framework could be as simple as a collection of code packed up into a library in a specific language, like JavaScript, or a more complex system of scripts, tools, and workflow built on a specific platform. Both types are designed to help speed up your game’s development. The last thing you want to be doing, especially when getting started, is reinventing the wheel. Here is a quick rundown of things to look for in a good game framework:

  • Speeds up development by including collision and physics, and handles input
  • Has good documentation and an active community to help answer questions
  • Is easy to pick up and matches your skill level (drag and drop for non-coders and low-level access for seasoned developers)
  • Easy multi-platform distribution, allowing you to get your new game on as many devices as possible

To help you pick the right game framework, I have highlighted a few of the most popular ones which work great on Fire OS devices and are perfect for people getting started making their first game. I have arranged these from easy to hard based on the above criteria.

Construct 2 (Beginner)

https://www.scirra.com/

Construct 2 is as easy as it gets for making a game. It employs a drag-and-drop behavior system, where you build up game logic from pre-made scripts that are attached to your game’s elements.

Construct 2 games are built in HTML5 (although you never have to touch the code itself) and, because of this, it’s ideal for publishing your game on the Web. Construct 2 games also run on a number of different platforms too The only down side to Construct 2 is that you are removed from the coding aspect of making the game, so you are fully dependent on what Scirra has provided. And, while you can add additional functionality via plugins, it’s not ideal if you come from a coding background and want to manually tweak things yourself.

GameMaker (Beginner to Intermediate)

http://www.yoyogames.com/studio

GameMaker is a great tool for making 2D games. It’s incredibly powerful, and a lot of well-known indie success stories got their start in GameMaker (“Spelunky,” “Hotline Miami,” etc.).

GameMaker is similar to Construct 2 in ease of use since you can perform drag-and-drop, event-based coding, and more advanced users can take advantage of its built-in scripting language called GML (GameMaker Language). GML is C based, so if you know C, JavaScript, Java, or C#, it will be familiar. But the language does have limitations, such as limited data structures and no classes. While the UI of GameMaker takes some getting used to, it’s still an excellent tool for 2D games, and its support for publishing to desktop, mobile, and HTML5 shouldn’t be overlooked.

Unity (Intermediate to Advanced)

http://unity3d.com/

Right now, Unity is a very popular game framework. Similar to GameMaker it also has it’s own IDE and you can drag and drop behaviors but Unity requires a baseline of coding skills to get up and running.

The IDE is very polished and easy to use, but being a 3D tool means that there is a certain level of knowledge you will need before getting started. Unity supports three languages: UnityScript (which is similar to JS), C#, and Boo. Unity now has a free version that supports exporting to desktop and mobile that displays the Unity logo on startup. The pro version gets incredibly pricey but adds lots of must-have features for more advanced game developers. Also, Unity released a new Sprite workflow for anyone interested in making 2D games.

HTML5 (Intermediate to Advanced)

https://github.com/bebraw/jswiki/wiki/Game-Engines

Sometimes you want to control every aspect of your code. HTML5 is a great place to do that, and it’s one of the only game platforms that allows you to target multiple platforms with the same code base, and include the browser on desktop and mobile as well.

There are a lot of really great HTML5 frameworks out there, but the two most popular are Impact ($100 license) and Phaser (free). The one thing to keep in mind is that you will have to manage browser compatibility across desktop and mobile, and native app distribution is still an issue. Also, in many cases you will need to bring your own tools, but seeing a game work perfectly in a mobile browser without a plugin opens up a lot of doors you would not get in a native mobile app store. On the flip side, we make it incredibly easy to test and publish HTML5 games on our devices via our Web App Tester.

Godot (Advanced)

http://www.godotengine.org/wp/

Godot is a new and completely open source game engine that just caught my attention.

While I’ve not used it, it looks incredibly promising and one I wanted to put on other developers radars. It uses a scripting langue similar to Phython and promises to export to multiple platforms. It’s one that I hope to dig into a little more in the new year plus being completely open source means you can tinker with how the engine works under the hood.

While I could probably write an entire book on different game frameworks and platforms, I don’t want to overwhelm you. The good news is that, if you are just starting out, there is guaranteed to be a framework that is right for your skill level or game idea. If you are looking for some more resources on how to get started, we have a few blog posts to covering Phaser and Unity, which you may want to check out:

- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)

 

January 08, 2015

Paul Cutsinger

The thing I’ve enjoyed most in the past year is connecting with so many amazing app devs. We’ve talked in person and on this blog about monetization, opportunities on FireTV, Fire Tablets, Fire phone and some cool new features. But, one line of questions consistently tops the list… 

“How hard is it to get into the Amazon Appstore?”

While it’s easy to respond with “It’s easy, in fact most apps just work — it’s Android”, it’s always more fun and informative to say “Let’s try it right now!”  Frankly, it’s the only way for an app developer to really know. As a dev myself, I’ve heard “it’s easy” a million times when it’s really a more complicated answer and depends on my specific situation. So, maybe a better question would be “What’s the minimum amount of work that I need to do to understand the true cost of publishing my app to Amazon." (hint: it’s easy!)

With that in mind, I’d like to highlight a set of blog posts that help you answer that question by giving you specific answers for your specific app in minutes.

First, Use the Testing Tool Website

All you need is your APK. Drag and drop it into the tool’s website. We’ll run a test pass and in minutes you’ll get a report including specific action items (if any), links to the documentation you need for each action item and screenshots of your app on device. 

Amazon’s 90 second App Testing ServiceBlog, Video, Straight to the test  

Next, Try Your App on a Device Yourself

I’ve sideload apps with many developers and each time it’s really cool to see them light up when their app fires up. There’s a whole new set of Amazon Appstore customers available and it’s so close. Here’s how you can enable ADB and sideload on each of the Amazon devices and see your app running for yourself.

Side load your APK onto a deviceFire Tablets, Fire TV, Fire Phone  

 

Happy New Year!

Paul Cutsinger (@PaulCutsinger)

 

December 29, 2014

David Isbitski

As an end of the year gift to all of our readers we have unlocked the GDC Vaults and made our Amazon Developer Day content free to watch! Recorded live at GDC Europe in Cologne, Germany this invite only workshop includes everything you need to get your apps and games into the Amazon ecosystem. You will learn first-hand from Amazon developer evangelists about the Amazon Appstore, Fire phone, Fire Tablets and Amazon Fire TV. You will also learn how to build your own scalable mobile game backend using Amazon Web Services. So pull up a chair, sit back, relax and enjoy this free developer workshop. Happy Holidays!

Amazon Developer Ecosystem of Apps and Devices

David Isbitski

This session covers everything you need to know about the Amazon Developer program, the free cross-platform Amazon Mobile SDK, and Amazon Fire devices.

Launching Enhanced Games on Fire Phone

David Isbitski

This session will get you up and running with Android Studio and Amazon’s Dynamic Perspective and Firefly SDKs. See how you can quickly add 3D elements to your existing Android games with minimal coding.  Multiple code samples are covered as well as live demos on Amazon Fire devices.

Reach Customers in the Living Room with Fire TV

Jesse Freeman

This session will show how you can get your existing Android games running on Fire TV. Setting up the developer environment, debugging on the Fire TV, tuning for the living room experience and publishing to the Amazon Appstore are all covered.

Building a Cloud Powered Mobile Game Backend

Steffen Krause

This session covers an overview of AWS Mobile Services and shows how you can quickly use it to scale your own games for millions of players.

Additional Developer Training and Resources

For more information about getting started with Amazon Fire devices and the Amazon Appstore, check out the following free resources:

Amazon Appstore and Devices

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire Phone

AWS Mobile Services

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

 

December 23, 2014

David Isbitski

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 generates fully native code for each mobile platform instead of translating at runtime.  Because Xamarin apps are built with standard, native user interface controls apps not only look the way the end user expects, they behave that way too.  Xamarin also 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.

Please join me in welcoming special guest Mike Bluestein, who as a Developer Evangelist for Xamarin, helps developers be successful with the Xamarin platform.  Mike is going to walk us through the steps to get your own apps and games running on Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick with Xamarin Studio.

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

Getting Started

It’s incredibly straight forward to get started with Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick when using Xamarin due to its native Android support and the freely available Fire TV component.

The version of Amazon FireOS that runs on Fire TV is based on Android Jelly Bean (API Level 17), so you can take your existing Android skills and code there by just targeting API 17. In fact, without even using the Amazon Fire TV SDK, you can run most API 17 apps without much modification. This of course depends on what you use.

The Amazon Fire TV SDK Add-on is available in the Android SDK Manager via an Add-on site, as described in the Amazon documentation. Once added, it appears under API 17:

To develop with Xamarin, the Xamarin component store includes an Amazon Fire TV component, which includes support for Amazon notification and game controller APIs respectively:

However, as mentioned, API 17 will work even without using the component. Try it yourself.

  • Create a Hello World app that targets Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)

  • Connect to the Fire TV (or Fire TV Stick) via adb:

adb connect [Fire TV IP Address]

  • Select the Amazon AFTM (API 17) from the Devices dropdown and run:

The app will deploy to the Fire TV device and you’ll be able to debug within Xamarin Studio just like any other Android application.

The Fire TV remote maps to normal Android keystroke handling. Therefore tapping the center button results in a button click in the Hello World app:

Building an app

When developing for Fire TV devices, you’ll want to design especially for it. For example, here’s a simple photo viewer of the Conceptdev Monkeys. It has adequate thumbnail size and padding around the screen edges so that the user can see it fine from a few meters away.

The user can easily navigate between monkeys using the remote. When selected a large view of the monkey is displayed.

What’s really great, from a programming perspective, is this is just Android. Therefore all your skills move forward.

Build a Game

Apps are great, but Fire TV devices really shine in its ability to bring Android games to the TV.

I previously blogged about a simple space game I made for the Fire TV Stick, using CocosSharp, where I used the remote to control the spaceship. Let’s take a look at how to extend the game to use an Amazon Fire TV controller with the GameController API.

To use the GameController API (available in the Xamarin component) you have to:

  • Forward any keystrokes and/or generic motion events to the controller.
  • Gather input from the game controller in your game loop.

CocosSharp games build upon MonoGame, which on Android uses the AndroidGameActivity. To use the game controller API, you must call GameController.Init after setting the ContentView:

In this case, we’ll be using the right joystick of the game controller to move the ship around the screen in any direction. Therefore, we need to forward generic motion events to the controller:

With this in place we can get input from the controller in the game layer and move the ship accordingly:

   

Then when we run the game, the ship moves via the right joystick:

The Amazon Fire TV family of devices and the associated SDK are fun to develop for. You can use your existing skills and resources and open the doors to a world of potential new customers!

One of the things to remember is that you’ll want to design your applications with the TV experience in mind. Applications designed for a phone won’t have a great experience on a large TV where people sit several meters away and interact via remotes and controllers, as opposed to touch. 

For additional tips on optimizing Android apps for the TV experience be sure to check out this free video and this blog post. For more information about getting started with Xamarin Studio and Amazon Fire devices, check out the following additional resources:

Mike Bluestein on Twitter

Xamarin Sample Code

Xamarin Studio

Xamarin Getting Started with Android

Xamarin Fire TV Component

Amazon Mobile Apps and Services Developer Portal

Amazon Fire TV SDK

 

December 12, 2014

Russell Beattie

Amazon Fire TV, including both the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, now supports 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 find this project on its GitHub project page here.

Here's an example of a media app using video content from the recent AWS re:Invent conference:

Background

Over the summer of 2014, we ran an early-access beta program with a dozen or so web app developers who were interested in collaborating with us to bring their HTML5 media apps to Fire TV. The program was a huge success, pinpointing technical issues that needed to be resolved before we opened access to web apps to the larger developer community. One of the most important pieces of beta feedback was the request for some sort of template to target the "10-foot Experience" on Fire TV. Though web browsers have been on TVs since the mid 90s, developers have never really targeted big screens and thus there is a notable vacuum of examples, guides or code available that web app developers can use to get started.

To address this need, we decided to create an open source HTML5 web app "starter kit" that developers can use to quickly create a simple media app, ready to be customized and published in the Amazon Appstore. The project contains code developers can re-use in their apps, as well as a design template for the couch-focused user experience as well. Interacting with HTML5 via a remote control is a very different experience than that of a mouse or touch screen.

Create TV-Based Web Apps

The Web App Starter Kit for Fire TV is self-contained, open source HTML5 project for creating real-world TV-based web apps. Hosted on Amazon's GitHub account, the project is comprised of the HTML, JavaScript, CSS and support files needed to create a media browser style app.

The project is written as a simplified MVC-based web app with few external dependencies. It's been componentized so that developers can pull functionality into in their own app, such as support for the Fire TV remote, or they can decide to simply use the code "as-is" and only customize the existing app by modifying the style and image files.

Baked into the starter kit is the code needed to both provide the large screen experience consumers expect, as well as to pass Amazon Appstore testing during the app submission process. This includes support for remote control key codes, warnings before quitting the app, handlers for when the app is backgrounded, full-screen media playback, and more. At the bare minimum, the developer only needs to provide access to their media sources as a JSON document that includes a list of media files, thumbnail images, titles, descriptions and categories. The app then uses that data to display the media as a selectable list of categories and a rotating carousel of media content.

We've included documentation covering all aspects of the starter kit: A ReadMe document introduces the project, and architecture and styling guides walk developers through the options they have to use or customize the app for their needs.

Being on GitHub also opens the opportunity to both improve the documentation as time goes on, as well as receiving "pull requests" from those in the developer community who wish to help improve the starter kit in the future.

Getting Started

Let's run through the basic steps in getting a media web app up and running using the starter kit.  (See the documentation on GitHub for full details.) For an introduction to Web Apps on Fire TV be sure to read our other blog post, Publishing HTML5 Apps to the Fire TV.

First, you'll need to grab the code from the Amazon GitHub repository using git - the open source version control system. (If you haven't learned how to use git yet, GitHub has a great online tutorial which will walk you through the basic steps, or you can download one of their easy to use GUI clients.)

Local Web Server. Once you've cloned the repository to your system, you'll need to launch a local development web server to test it out. This can be done through various means, including using either Python or Node.js. Open a terminal or command line, and change into the base directory of the project, and use one of the following methods to create a local web server:

Using Python, create a simple HTTP server with this command:

Using Node and NPM, install the Serve package, then create the server:

Web App Tester. Though we can do development using our desktop browser by navigating to http://localhost:3000, you'll want to see what the app looks like on a big screen powered by a Fire TV device. To do that, we'll be using the Web App Tester to view the content. The Tester is an app provided by Amazon which you can install on your Fire TV. It lets you test your web app on a real-world big screen before you submit the app to the Amazon Appstore.

Once you've installed the app, note the IP address of your computer where you are serving the starter kit's content, then navigate to http://your-local-ip:3000, highlight the Test button and press select and the sample app will be displayed .

Customize Your App

Now that you have the starter kit installed and running, you will want to customize the look and feel of the app as well as provide your own content to populate the video list and category list. Below are the files you'll need to change.

Logo. To modify the logo, use your favorite text editor to open the index.html file found in the root of the project and search for the "app-logo" class. This is where you will add the URL to your new logo.

Later, once you are familiar with the design of the web app, you can modify more of the HTML to better reflect your content or brand. Again, the documentation provided with the starter kit will point out the overall architecture of the project.

Look and Feel. The project's CSS file is automatically generated from a Sass template found in the root of the project called firetv.scss. Check out the Sass website for info on how to install and use sass templates. Rather than needing to go through the entire CSS file looking for things to change, there is a variable file called _variables.scss which allows you to change the fonts, colors, etc. of the app by simply changing the values used in the main Sass file. Once you have modified the variables, you'll need to generate a new CSS file to be used by using Sass from the command line:

You can find more details on how to style an app in the project's documentation.

Content. The last step to creating your first big screen web app for the Fire TV is to create a JSON file with the details of your media content, providing the file names, URLs and meta data needed. A sample JSON file can be found in the ./assets folder of the project and can be modified, or the URL can be changed completely by editing the index.html page to change the settings.dataURL value.

The JSON file contains an array of these basic fields:

Note:

  • The URL fields (imgURL and videoURL) can be local files or external resources.
  • The categories field is an array of topics used for filtering videos, which will be automatically grouped and displayed in the main menu of the app.

For more information about the JSON format and other architectural questions, check out the project's documentation. To find out more about developing web apps from scratch for the Fire TV, check out the Developer Portal's Getting Started with Web Apps for Fire TV, which has lots of useful information and notes you should be aware of.

Submitting your app to the Amazon Appstore

Once you've customized the Starter Kit and have your Fire TV web app created, you can publish it to the Amazon Appstore within minutes - without having to do any native development. Developers have a choice of either hosting the app's asset files on their own web server and submitting just the URL, or uploading the assets to Amazon's servers, where it will be bundled into a standalone packaged app.

Follow the steps below to submit your web app:

1. Create a Free Amazon Developer account. 

2. Go to the New Web App Submission page and provide details about your Fire TV web app:

  1. General Information (title, category, support details, privacy URL)
  2. Availability and Pricing  (release date and base list price)
  3. Description
  4. Images and Multimedia (screen shots, icons)
  5. Content rating

3. Choose whether or not to submit a hosted web app or a packaged web app. (In this case, the latter).

4. Upload the web app files (HTML, JavaScript, CSS, content files/resources) as a zip file.

5. Choose both the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick in the Device Support section.

6. Submit!

For information on submitting both hosted and packaged apps, see Submitting or Updating Your Web App to the Amazon Appstore

Summary

The Web App Starter Kit for Fire TV is just in its beginning stages, so if you have any questions, suggestions, or (most importantly) pull requests, please use the Amazon GitHub project page to send them to us. We really look forward to seeing all the cool new media apps created by web developers!

Related Links

 

December 10, 2014

Jesse Freeman

Today we are announcing full support for publishing HTML5 apps to  Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick as part of our existing HTML5 web app publishing toolset. This now opens up a new opportunity for web developers to publish HTML5 powered apps to the living room. In addition, developers with web apps already published to Fire tablets and Fire phone will now be able to release their existing hosted web apps on the Fire TV family of devices using the same workflow they are already using. To help support web apps on Fire TV devices we have made additions to the Amazon WebView, which powers web apps on our platform, to give developers access to the following features:

  • Support for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick Remotes
  • Support for analog input from the Amazon Fire TV Game Controller and other gamepads.
  • Access to our In App Purchase (IAP) API via JavaScript
  • A new starter template app optimized for 10 foot experience for creating Fire TV HTML5 media apps

By adding full support for Fire TV devices, developers can publish the same web app across all of our Fire devices and take advantage of the great performance enhancements the Amazon WebView offers.

Powered by the Amazon WebView

The Amazon WebView supports everything you have come to expect from the mobile version of Chromium. This includes WebGL, GPU optimized CSS3 Transition and fast JavaScript code executionWeb developers can now sell their web apps at a premium price, use IAP (via our JavaScript API), and have their app distributed right alongside native Android apps and games.

HTML5 Apps on the TV

In addition to our launch partners, we are excited to see what developers come up with to help push HTML5 forward onto the big screen. Through the Amazon Appstore on Fire TV devices developers can now deploy web apps and games to a whole new audience. HTML5 is a great cross platform choice for developers and we are now enabling them to reach even more customers than before. While traditional media apps make sense on the Fire TV, we are also looking forward to seeing HTML5 games and media apps evolve on this new platform. With support for WebGL, Gamepad API and accelerated canvas, high quality web games can now run on the TV. This opens up an entirely new world to HTML5 game developers hoping to build console quality games with the tools and frameworks they currently use to reach millions of web and mobile web gamers every day.

Getting Started

Bringing your web app to Fire TV is easy.  If you already have an app optimized for the 10-foot experience, you can get started by downloading the Web App Tester from the Amazon Appstore on your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. Once installed, you simply enter in the name of your app and its URL online.

Likewise, you can also supply a .zip file to package up your app by following these instructions. After all the details are supplied, you can see how your web app will run on the Fire TV via the preview option.

If you are looking to get started building Web Apps for Fire TV or Fire TV stick, we have also provided an open source template on GitHub. Make sure to check out the online documentation that will walk you through everything you need to know about publishing HTML5 apps to the Fire TV family of devices.

Related Links

- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)

 

November 10, 2014

Corey Badcock

Vision Mobile recently shared a new chart showing a higher percentage of Amazon Fire developers above the app poverty line versus other platforms. More specifically, 59% of developers distributing their apps on the Amazon Appstore make more than $500 per month versus <50% on other platforms. Tweet: 59% of #devs distributing #apps to Amazon #Appstore make more than $500 per month versus <50% on other platforms http://ctt.ec/9Y1Z3+ The chart also showed that developers continue to experience increased monetization in the Appstore - Amazon had a bigger proportion of developers making $5,000+ a month compared to developers on other platforms. Tweet: #Amazon #Appstore had a bigger proportion of #developers making $5,000+ a month compared to #devs on other platforms http://ctt.ec/05hxK+ We’re excited to see developers like you expand their reach and monetize apps through the Amazon Appstore.

VM Graph

Today the Amazon Appstore is available on more than just Fire devices including the all-new Amazon Fire TV Stick. The Amazon Appstore for Android is also pre-loaded on BlackBerry 10 devices and carriers including O2, EE, Deutsche Telecom and others on millions of Android devices. This wide reach gives your app access to even more customers. Plus, the latest Amazon shopping app fully integrates apps and games into the shopping experience enjoyed by millions of customers. So when customers are searching for products in the Amazon shopping app, they’ll also discover relevant apps and games that they may also enjoy.  Here’s what some developers are saying about their experience with Amazon:

“When we compared our 2014 data, we noticed that ARPU on Amazon was 70% higher than on Android and 15% higher than on iOS”. Tweet: “When we compared our 2014 data, we noticed that #ARPU on Amazon was 70% higher than on #Android and 15% higher than on #iOS”. @AmazonAppDev                                                                         

– Elad Kushnir, VP of Business Development at Playtika

 

“The Average Revenue Per Download (ARPD) on Amazon is actually higher than on Android.”Tweet: “The Average #Revenue Per #Download (ARPD) on #Amazon is actually higher than on #Android.”  @AmazonAppDev   

– Jean-Baptiste, CEO at DJIT

Check out the infographic below to learn more about where your apps will be available once you distribute them on the Amazon Appstore then get started and submit your apps here.

P.S. The holidays are the best time of the year to submit your apps. Read our latest blog post to learn more: Three Important Stats About Holiday Device Sales

 

 

October 29, 2014

Jesse Freeman

With the launch of the Amazon Fire TV stick, there has never been a better time or more developer friendly device to realize your own dreams of building apps for the living room. And, with an incredibly low price point of $39, it 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, especially Fire TV, the Fire TV stick is another great platform to help grow your audience.

In the following post we’ll 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.

Android Developers Can Easily Tap into New Audience

Now is the perfect time for Android developers to get into the growing streaming device segment with their existing Android app or create something entirely new, designed specifically for the Fire TV Stick. In addition to media-centric apps, casual games that feature local multi-player options are also becoming very popular on these types of devices.  

Android developers will find that developing for Fire TV Stick is familiar, and optimizing their apps for the new controllers and TV display will not require learning a new language or new frameworks. Fire TV Stick runs Fire OS, which is based on Android. This means that it is easy to bring an Android APK to Amazon devices, including Fire TV Stick. Amazon Fire TV Stick offers Android apps a potentially new set of customers to engage with – all through the same Amazon Appstore.

Click here to download the Fire TV SDK and learn more

Getting Started is Easy

If you are already building Android apps and games, chances are you have everything you need to get started. Simply connect over WIFI with the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) and either manually push your APK via the command line or use your IDE of choice to push the build for you. We support a range of IDEs including Android Studio, Unity, or other IDEs that can create an APK. While most APKs will work without any changes, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

In addition to the SDK and documentation, publishing to the Amazon Appstore is free, so if you have an app you think would be great for Fire TV stick, get started testing and submitting it today!

Optimizing Fire TV Apps For Fire TV Stick

Do you already have a Fire TV app? Well the good news is that your existing Fire TV app should run on Fire TV stick. The biggest things to keep in mind are the subtle differences in specs between the two devices. While the Fire TV Stick is incredibly powerful, given its size and price point, you will still want to test and optimize existing apps and games to account for the hardware performance differences from the Fire TV. For existing Android developers, you are probably already familiar with having to support difference devices ranging in performance, so your normal testing process should still apply here. To help, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Less available RAM (1GB split between video and system memory in SD02, 2GB in Fire TV)
  • Broadcom Dual Core 1 GHz Cortex A9 CPU (versus Qualcomm Quad Core Krait 300 in Fire TV)
  • Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU (versus Qualcomm Adreno 320 in Fire TV)

Looking for some more details on the differences between the Fire TV stick and the Fire TV? Below you will find some of the important specs between both systems to help you better understand how to optimize your Android app for the Fire TV stick.

Fire TV Stick Remote

The most important thing you'll need to know is that the new Fire TV stick has its own dedicated remote with same buttons as the standard Amazon Fire TV voice remote. Here is button layout:

All of these buttons can be accessed via stranded Android key press events. For more information, check out the Fire TV input documentation.

Likewise, you can also detect which Fire TV platform you are on or the name of the attached remote/controller via the following properties:

Item

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Stick

android.os.Build.MANUFACTURER

"Amazon"

"Amazon"

android.os.Build.MODEL

"AFTB"  (Fire TV only) 
 
"AFT*" (all Fire TV devices) 
 
"AFTM"  (Fire TV Stick only) 
 
"AFT*" (all Fire TV devices) 
 

Input Device Name (Fire TV remote)

"Amazon Fire TV Remote"

"Amazon Fire TV Remote"

Input Device Name (Fire Game Controller)

"Amazon Fire Game Controller"

"Amazon Fire Game Controller"

Fire TV and Fire TV Stick Hardware

Here is a summary of the main differences between the Fire TV and Fire TV stick's hardware and specifications. One thing to point out while optimizing your app or game is that on the Fire TV stick the 1 GB of RAM is split between the system and the GPU. Also, while 720p is listed as a supported resolution, you should simply build for 1080p (xhdpi) and the Fire TV OS will downscale to 720p for you automatically.

Item

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Screen resolution (px)

1920 x 1080 (1080p)

1280 x 720 (720p)

1920 x 1080 (1080p)

1280 x 720 (720p)

Density (dp)

320 (1080p)

213 (720p)

320 (1080p)

213 (720p)

Density Identifier

xhdpi (1080p)

tvdpi (720p)

xhdpi (1080p)

tvdpi (720p)

Storage

8GB

8GB

RAM

2GB

1GB (512MB system, 512MB video )

System on Chip (SoC) Platform

Qualcomm Snapdragon ARMv7

Broadcom BCM28155 (Capri)

CPU

Qualcomm Quad Core Krait 300, up to 1.7 GHz, 2MB L2 Cache (APQ8064T)

Dual Core 1 GHz Cortex A9

GPU

Qualcomm Adreno 320, 400 MHz

Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU/VPU (Capri VC4 device)

Networking: WiFi

802.11 b/g/n; 2x2 MIMO

(2.4 GHz & 5.0 Ghz dual band)

802.11 b/g/n; 2x2 MIMO

(2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz dual band)

Networking: Ethernet

10/100 Base-T

No

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 4.0

Bluetooth 4.0

Device OS/Platform Software

Amazon FireOS 3.0; Based on Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), API Level 17

Amazon FireOS 3.0; Based on Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), API Level 17

 

Fire TV platform software v1.1

OpenGL Properties and Limits

The following table shows the OpenGL properties and limits for the Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick for 3D games and graphically intensive effects in your app.

Item

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Stick

GPU

Qualcomm Adreno 320, 400 MHz

Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU/VPU (Capri VC4 device)

OpenGL Version

OpenGL ES 3.0 V@66.0 AU@04.04.02.052.050 (CL@)

OpenGL ES 2.0

MAX_TEXTURE_SIZE

4096

2048

MAX_CUBE_MAP_TEXTURE_SIZE

4096

2048

MAX_RENDERBUFFER_SIZE

4096

2048

MAX_VERTEX_TEXTURE_IMAGE_UNITS

16

8

MAX_TEXTURE_IMAGE_UNITS

16

8

MAX_COMBINED_TEXTURE_IMAGE_UNITS

32

8

MAX_VERTEX_UNIFORM_VECTORS

256

300

MAX_FRAGMENT_UNIFORM_VECTORS

224

300

MAX_VERTEX_ATTRIBS

16

8

MAX_VARYING_VECTORS

16

8

MAX_VIEWPORT_DIMS

4096 x 4096

2048 x 2048

What Are You Going to Build?

As a child, growing up playing on home consoles, my dream was to always make games for the TV. Now with affordable and easy to developer for devices like the Fire TV Stick and of course Fire TV it’s never been easier for developers to realize a similar dream. You no longer need expensive dev kits and complicated coding languages to build your first app or casual game for the TV. The only question is what will you build? To help you get started, check out the links below in the resource section to realize your own dreams of building experiences for the living room.

Additional Resources

- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman) is a Developer Evangelist at Amazon focusing on HTML5 and Games for the Amazon Appstore.

 

October 27, 2014

Jesse Freeman

Less than seven months ago, Amazon introduced Amazon Fire TV, and it quickly became the best-selling streaming media box on Amazon. Today, Amazon is bringing 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.

Introducing Fire TV Stick, a tiny stick that connects to the HDMI port on your HDTV for instant access to movies, TV shows, music, photos, apps, and games. Fire TV Stick is just $39 and is available for pre-order starting today at www.amazon.com/fire-tv-stick and will ship November 19.

As a thank you to Prime members, Fire TV Stick is available for two days only for just $19 on Amazon.com. Customers who are new to Prime can sign up for a free trial and also receive this special price. Eligible customers get a free 30-day trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime when they purchase Fire TV Stick.

The Most Powerful Streaming Media Stick

The Amazon Fire TV Stick has serious hardware specifications. Included inside of its streamlined thin case are a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, dual-band, dual-antenna (MIMO) Wi-Fi, support for 1080p HD video and immersive audio with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. At its core, the Fire TV Stick is simple to set up and easy to use, just plug it into a HDMI port on your HDTV and you're ready to run apps and casual games like Monsters University, Ski Safari, and Flappy Birds Family in minutes. The Fire TV stick even comes with its own dedicated remote and of course you can also connect the optional Amazon Fire Game Controller.

Click here to learn more about the Fire TV Stick.

Android Developers Can Easily Tap into New Segment

Now is the perfect time for Android developers to get into the growing streaming device segment with their existing Android app or create something entirely new, designed specifically for the Fire TV Stick. In addition to media-centric apps, casual games that feature local multi-player options are also becoming very popular on these types of devices.  

Android developers will find that developing for Fire TV Stick is familiar, and optimizing their apps for the new controllers and TV display will not require learning a new language or new frameworks. Fire TV Stick runs Fire OS, which is based on Android. This means that it is easy to bring an Android APK to Amazon devices, including Fire TV Stick. Amazon Fire TV Stick offers Android apps a potentially new set of customers to engage with – all through the same Amazon Appstore.

Click here to download the Fire TV SDK and learn more.

Millions of Customers: Fire Devices, Android Devices, and Blackberry

The Amazon Appstore has never been available on a broader selection of devices and platforms.  Fire TV Stick is the newest addition to the Fire device family that includes recently released Fire tablets, Fire phone and Fire TV.  The Appstore is preloaded on all Fire devices, so when a developer submits their app to the Appstore they have the opportunity to reach customers no matter where they are and what device they’re using.

The Amazon Appstore for Android is also pre-loaded on millions of Android devices and hundreds of thousands of Android customers have already downloaded the Appstore on their own. We recently announced that the Amazon Appstore is preloaded on BlackBerry 10 devices throughout the world, giving developers access to even more customers. Plus, the latest Amazon shopping app fully integrates apps and games into the shopping experience enjoyed by millions of customers. So when customers are searching for products in the Amazon shopping app, they’ll also discover relevant apps and games that they may also enjoy.

Take Advantage of the Holiday Season Sales Spike

Fire TV Stick is launching just in time for the holiday shopping season. Amazon device activations historically surge during this period. According to Flurry Analytics, Christmas sees the highest number of device activations for Amazon—24 times the number for a typical December day in 2013, a bigger bump than other major tablet and smartphone manufacturers—so now is the time to develop a new app or bring your existing Android or web app to Fire tablets, Fire TV, Fire phone and Fire TV Stick.

Click here to submit your Android app or game.

Now is the Time to Submit Your App for Fire TV Stick

Reach new customers and expand your reach to the living room with Fire TV Stick.  Submit your app now to make sure it’s available when Fire TV Stick launches November 19th.

Additional Resources:

October 21, 2014

Lauren Stark

In the London are area? We'll be at two events later this month in your area. Meet 1:1 with developer evangelists, get answers to your technical questions, participate in the Appstore Port-a-Thon, get a demo of Fire TV, and learn how to port your desktop and mobile games to the living room.

Amazon Developer Day: Bringing Apps to the Living Room

Fire TV will be available in the UK this Thursday, and the Appstore team is hosting a free developer day at our London office on October 29th centered around bringing apps to the living room.

The Amazon Appstore Developer Day is designed to give you the essential tips, tricks and tools to distribute your app to Amazon customers. At the end of the afternoon, you will be able to publish your Android app directly to the Amazon Appstore.  At the event, our technical representatives will be on hand to provide support, answer your questions, and help you troubleshoot any issues.  We’ll have extra devices on-hand for you to use for testing.

Plus, we'll be giving away 2 tickets to Droidcon London and a Fire TV!

 

When: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 from 12:30 PM to 5:00 PM

Where: Amazon UK Offices at 60 Holborn Viaduct, London

Learn more and register: https://amazonappstoreuk.eventbrite.com

 

Droidcon London: Come Publish Your App

On October 30th and 31st, you can catch the team at Droidcon London.

Stop by our booth and experience the Fire Phone, Fire TV and Kindle Fire. Bring your APK and publish your app on the Amazon Appstore in as little as two hours! An Amazon evangelist will be on hand to help check compatibility and answer any questions about publishing your Android app on the Amazon Appstore. It’s easy and usually no changes are necessary because 75% of the apps we’ve checked just work! Each developer will be entered to win an Amazon device upon submission.

You can also hear our evangelist Paul Cutsinger talk about Responsive Game Design and Bringing Desktop and Mobile Games to the Living Room or try your hands on the Fire TV at the Droidcon Gaming Zone.

If you haven’t registered for Droidcon, use promo code AMAZON-DROIDCON-2014 and get 25% off.

 

 

September 18, 2014

Nathan Lam

A common theme that developers often face is deciding which platform they should make their apps available on next. Are the users on this platform engaged enough? Will I be able to make money on this platform? These are only some of the questions that developers face, before investing their time on transferring their apps. For Playtika, a company which builds highly immersive social games, expanding their apps onto as many platforms as possible has become a core strategy.

Playtika’s app Slotomania currently holds the #8 spot worldwide for highest grossed mobile app on iOS and Android. In addition to iOS and Android, Playtika has also launched on the Amazon Appstore, which has proved to be a big success. According to Playtika, the Amazon Appstore provided the team with the highest ARPU (average revenue per user) compared to other platforms and also contained the highest retention rate amongst its competitors. Recently I had the chance to sit down with Elad Kushnir, VP of Business Development, to discuss how their apps were doing in the Amazon Appstore and their experience working with Amazon.

Amazon Appstore offers 70% higher ARPU compared to Google Play and 15% higher than iOS

“The Amazon Appstore does not only make the migration easy from an existing Google Play app, but it also has outperforming KPI’s as well.” says Elad. The team has seen some impressive results since their app has gone live in the store and have done fairly well for themselves in terms of revenue. “When we compared our 2014 data, we noticed that ARPU on Amazon was 70% higher than on Android and 15% higher than on iOS”- Elad Kushnir

 The team credits the unique audience that Amazon brings in and how engaged they are. “When we looked at retention rates for 2nd day and 7th day metrics, the retention was relatively the same across all platforms. However on the 30th day, retention on Amazon Appstore was 10%-20% higher than on iOS and Google Play.” Says Elad.

Playtika Sees 150% Higher Conversion Rates from Players to Payers on the Amazon Appstore Compared to iOS and 170% compared to Google Play

Getting users engaged is only half the battle. With a free app like Slotomania, conversion rates (paying users/ DAU) is crucial in terms of making revenue which is why Playtika is using Amazon’s In-App Purchasing API. So how many of these users are actually purchasing within the game? From Playtika’s data in 2014, they determined that the average user on the Amazon Appstore is 150% more likely to become a paid user than on iOS and 170% more likely than Google Play.

Figure 1In-App Purchasing

From Google Play to Amazon Appstore with Little to No Work

When the team came together to decide on their next platform, they chose the Amazon Appstore immediately. So why did the team decide that Amazon Appstore was the right choice?

“When we were deciding on our next platform, we already had our app on Google Play. We realized that moving our app from Google Play to the Amazon Appstore would be pretty easy since Fire OS is built on Android. Once we started, we got our apps up and running in a couple days and the process itself was seamless. The best part was that it had relatively low development costs.” – Elad Kushnir

From previous tests, we actually found out that more than 75% of the Android apps we tested just work on Kindle Fire with no additional development required. The team has now launched several of their games on the Amazon Appstore and are working on the getting the remaining ones up and running within the next year.

Moving into Fire Phone and Amazon Fire TV

Moving forward Playtika plans to take their apps to the next level by getting them onto Amazon’s newest devices. Their current focus is to get their app on Fire, in which their team is already planning on integrating Fire’s exclusive feature, Dynamic Perspective. In 2015 Playtika is planning to also have their apps on Amazon Fire TV. For now, the Playtika team tells us that they are very happy with how things are going and plan to release even more apps on the Amazon Appstore in the near future.

Learn More about the Tools Used by Playtika

September 09, 2014

Paul Cutsinger

AWS re:Invent is sold out!  This is going to be the biggest AWS re:Invent yet. This year’s conference will feature three tracks of content to help mobile app and game developers build apps, engage customers and monetize more effectively. 

Here are 6 reasons you should check out AWS re:Invent 2014:

Launch Your Own Start-up at AWS re:Invent

In 2013, five start-ups launched at re:Invent in a session emceed by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, and we’re doing it again this year.  If you’re in stealth mode, you can use re:Invent to launch your AWS-powered mobile app or game to the world.  If you’re already launched, you can announce a new major feature on stage with Amazon CTO Wener Vogels.  The application deadline is 5:00pm PST on September 30thapply today.

Deep Technical Content

AWS re:Invent is a learning conference with breakout sessions covering a broad range of topics and technical depth. All sessions will be delivered by subject matter experts, engineers, or expert customers who can share their real world experiences and lessons learned.  Want to get a taste of what to expect?  Check out the 2013 re:Invent recap featuring sessions on mobile game architectures, and coding tips to help you distribute your HTML 5 apps on mobile devices.

Amazon Fire Device Track

Come learn from customers and Amazon experts how to create Fire phone, Fire TV and Kindle Fire apps. We’ll go into depth on how to create applications that react to customer actions with Fire phone’s Dynamic Perspective and Firefly technologies. You’ll also hear how to reach new audiences with Fire TV. Top mobile developers will share their tips on monetizing and you’ll get behind-the-scenes details from the Amazon engineers who build our technologies. You can see a full list of tracks here.

Gaming Track

In this track, you’ll learn how AWS services can enable you to scale your game from 1,000 to 1,000,000 players. We will cover common features such as leaderboards, game analytics, asynchronous gameplay, online multiplayer servers, multi-region deployments, and cloud streaming. Game companies using AWS to power their games will share best practices. Click here to see the full list of tracks.

Mobile & Connected Devices Track

Whether you are a mobile developer, a connected device solution builder, or a business trying to be “Mobile-first”, AWS can help you to build fast and scale more easily. The Mobile & Connnected Devices track will give you a detailed look at services like our cross platform mobile push notification and Amazon Mobile Analytics and improve customer experience across platform. We’ll have examples from companies that have already used AWS to power their mobile apps to share their lessons learned.  Click here to see the full list of tracks.

Hackathon: Help Non-Profits Solve Big Problems

Start your AWS re:Invent experience early.  On Tuesday November 11 from 8:00am until midnight, join developers, AWS engineers and Amazon mobile app experts to hack on big problems in support of a worthy cause.  Bring your team, we’ll provide everything you need to get started. Space is limited – only 200 hackers allowed – so register today to reserve your spot.  We’re doing this 24 hours before the first keynote, so don’t worry – you won’t miss anything!  Click here to learn more.

Sign Up for the Live Stream

Join AWS re:Invent from the comfort of your home or office. We are live streaming our keynotes and selected breakout sessions on November 12 and 13. Watch the keynotes and hear the latest announcements from AWS executives and key customers.

@PaulCutsinger

 

 

 

 

August 04, 2014

Peter Heinrich

Fire TV is the perfect platform to showcase your Android game in a whole new way: through the home theater. With a Qualcomm quad-core Krait 300 CPU, Adreno 320 GPU, 2 GB RAM, Dolby Digital Plus Certified surround sound, and support for multiple game controllers, Amazon Fire TV packs a lot of power and features into a small package.

Game Catalog Growing Fast

Some of the most entertaining and recognizable game titles are already available on Fire TV, with more favorites launching every day. Shiny Box recently released a Fire TV version of its hit role-playing game Dungeon Quest, as did Disney with Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. Other game makers, large and small, are also bringing their best games to the new device. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (Rockstar Games), The Wolf Among Us (Telltale Games), SoulCraft (MobileBits), The Bard’s Tale (inExile Entertainment), and Transworld Endless Skater (SuperVillian Studios) are just a few examples.

Huge Potential

It’s no wonder Fire TV is generating excitement among game developers. Fire TV offers a unique opportunity to reach more customers, making your games accessible on the largest and most prominent screen in the home. The high-performance Fire TV hardware is designed to make your game’s “ten-foot experience” look, feel, and sound great.

Built-in support for up to four game controllers (with extended support for up to seven) lets you engage the whole family in your multiplayer game. Add an alternative “second screen” interface to your game for an even richer and more immersive multiplayer experience.

Fire TV also supports Whispersync for Games, so you can ensure player progress is always safe and synchronized. Players can pick up your game right where they left off, even if they started playing on some other device, like a phone or tablet.

Easy Development

Fire TV is built on Android, so creating games for the living room is as comfortable and familiar as the mobile development you do today. Optimizing an existing Android game for Fire TV is also straightforward, so you can get the most out of the hardware—and guarantee the best player experience—with little effort. It’s easy to get started.

See our online documentation for information and tips on programming for the Fire TV remote and game controllers, ensuring your game will look its best on an HD TV, and using ADB to debug your APK with Fire TV. You can also learn about responsive game design, which makes it possible to develop games that scale across desktop, mobile, and TV.

Games and More

Games aren’t the only apps to benefit from Fire TV’s raw horsepower and programming flexibility. Music, Photography, News & Weather, Sports, and Entertainment are just a few of the categories growing fast as app developers expand into the living room. MLB.TV (MLB Advanced Media) and WWE Network (WWE) are excellent examples of mobile apps looking great for the 10-foot experience.

Take the Next Step

Fire TV has the power to make your Android games shine on the big (home) screen; take advantage of the opportunity to publish them directly to the living room. Check out our online documentation and blog posts about developing for Fire TV.

-peter (@peterdotgames)

 

May 29, 2014

Mike Hines

Amazon Fire TV offers an exciting opportunity for game developers to reach more customers, by making your apps and games accessible in the living room.

This quick video will give you an overview of Amazon Fire TV.  It will cover how Fire TV can help Android developers (big and small) increase their customer base, how to monetize on Fire TV, how to optimize for a 10-foot experience, and cover how to qualify for 500K Amazon Coins ($5,000 value) for promotion for each of your qualifying paid apps or apps with in-app purchasing.  For more information about getting started with Amazon Fire TV, see our online documentation:

 

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