We are delighted to announce VoiceView, our new Amazon Fire TV screen reader. With VoiceView, blind and visually impaired customers can navigate and discover content, access settings, and control playback in the core Amazon Fire TV experience.
We encourage you to make your app compatible with VoiceView by December, 20th 2016, which is the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) compliance deadline.
As per the CVAA, certain applications that deliver video content need to be accessible to blind and visually impaired customers. In order to provide accessibility to the user interface, the CVAA identifies 11 essential functions (Page 38) that, if present in the non-screen-reader experience, should have the option to be voiced aloud.
Our Amazon Fire TV developer documentation describes how to fully leverage VoiceView in order to create a great experience for our blind and visually impaired customers. Customers can turn VoiceView on or off by holding the Back and Menu buttons for 2 seconds. In the few months that VoiceView has been available on Amazon Fire TV we have learned a lot and will release a new version of VoiceView before the end of the year.
If you have any technical questions or need developer assistance as you build support for our shared customers, please contact us (select app submissions and updates from the subject dropdown menu) or visit our developer forums.
Amazon Fire TV now has a feature called System X-Ray that allows developers to visually track device and application metrics while an application is in use. This is a useful tool for developers and testers, as it gives them pertinent metrics that can help diagnose issues within an app or game.
System X-Ray is available on all Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick devices with Fire OS version 5.0.2 and higher.
The System X-Ray feature is enabled in the Developer Tools Menu dialog. There are three ways to invoke the dialog.
Working on a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick app/game? Let us know at @AmazonAppDev with the following hashtag #MadeForFireTV
In April, Amazon introduced Amazon Fire TV, and it quickly became the best-selling streaming media box on Amazon. 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.
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 created in 2014 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.
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)
Fire TV can help you increase your customer base by putting your app in the living room, in front of people who enjoy entertainment and may not have seen your apps before. This quick video details 10 tips to help you quickly optimize your app or game for the 10-foot experience, and covers how to get 500K Amazon Coins if your app qualifies for Appstore Developer Select.
For more information about getting started with Amazon Fire TV, check out our online documentation:
- Dave (@TheDaveDev)
Today, Amazon announced the availability of Amazon Fire TV in the UK and Germany. Amazon Fire TV is the best-selling streaming box on Amazon in the US since it launched in April, and makes it easy for users to stream movies, TV shows, and music as well as download apps and play games right on the HDTVs they already own.
For developers, Fire TV can help you increase your customer base by putting your app in the living room, in front of people who enjoy entertainment and may not have seen your apps before. With this expansion to customers in the UK and Germany, you’ll be able to reach even more customers on Fire TV. To promote rich user experiences, Fire TV enables full-featured game controllers, Dolby Digital Plus Certified surround sound and more. Android developers will find that developing for Fire TV is familiar, and optimizing their apps for the new controllers and TV display will not require learning a new language or new frameworks.
Here are some resources that we’ve published to help you get started with Amazon Fire TV.
Getting Started with Fire TV
Game Development for Fire TV
In addition to the resources I’ve included above, be sure to check out these additional resources:
If you haven’t noticed, we are doing a lot to make the Amazon Appstore the ideal place to publish games. With a wide range of form factors covering tablet, phone, TV and dedicated game services, we want our platform to be the next stop for your title.
If you have been thinking about expanding your game’s user base, there has never been a better time to publish on the Amazon Appstore.
Our platform is the perfect fit for any developer publishing Android games. We’ve found that most Android apps we tested just work on Fire mobile devices. Chances are good that you will not have to change a single line of code to get your game running on our devices. We also support all the major game frameworks such as Unity, GameMaker, Unreal, Corona and Air. In addition, we even offer tools to help you publish HTML5 games just like native ones. Basically, if your IDE outputs an APK we can run it! So if you are developing for Android and looking for a new opportunity to expand your audience on mobile, tablet and TV you should check out our device lineup.
For the first time in Amazon’s history, we have a complete device ecosystem for publishing your game. Our devices are powered by Fire OS, a custom build of Android optimized to run exclusively on our hardware.
Got a mobile game? Try out our Fire Phone which features top end specs, dedicated GPU, 2gb of ram and unique features such as Dynamic Perspective and Firefly.
Building for tablet? We have several tablets, including two high-end versions called the Kindle Fire HDX, which come in both 8.9" and 7” sizes. Each tablet has blazing fast processes as well and high-resolution HD displays. Our Kindle Fire HD lineup also has great performance at a more affordable price point for customers.
Want to build your games for the big screen? Target Fire TV, which allows you to take Android games and publish them for the 10-foot living room experience.
Each of these devices has you covered no matter where you are coming from. In addition to the hardware, we do even more to create one cohesive developer experience with our gaming services.
We have services designed exclusively for game developers such as GameCircle. It’s integrated into the Fire OS and offers leader boards, achievements as well as cloud syncing of game data across devices. With cloud syncing we make it easy to not only backup your player’s game data but make it available on all of our platforms to better leverage Amazon customers with multiple Fire OS devices.
Anyone who owns a Fire OS enabled device has access to his or her own gamer profile. It moves with them across different Fire OS enabled device. This allows them to maintain their player stats and achievements no matter how they want to play. If your current game has leader boards, achievements and cloud syncing it shouldn’t take long to migrate over to our APIs. We even support Unity and other 3rd party game frameworks.
In addition to GameCircle, we also offer more APIs critical for building a successful game such as:
The Amazon Appstore is the main vehicle for you to distribute your game on our platforms as well on other Android devices. While the Amazon Appstore comes built into every Fire OS powered device, Android users can also download the store to access our library of apps and games. The Amazon Appstore offers customers a way to buy a single game across our devices or you can configure different APKs per devices via our multiple binary uploader. You have full control over how your game shows up on the store. If you are already building for Android, why not grow your reach with Amazon customers?
It’s completely free to publish your games to the Amazon Appstore. To become a developer, simply sign up at the top of the developer portal and create your own account. Once you submit your app, it goes through an approval process. This ensures that it works correctly on our devices before going into the store. Once in the store, you’ll have access to millions of Amazon customers looking for great games.
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman) is a Developer Evangelist at Amazon focusing on HTML5 and Games for the Amazon Appstore.