Getting Started Developing Apps

To get started building apps for Amazon Fire TV, first decide whether you want to build an Android app or web app:

  • Android App: If you're an Android Java developer, you can use existing tools (like Android Studio) and frameworks (including Unity) to develop apps and games for the 10-foot experience. Sample code, documentation, and guidelines are available to help you make the most of your apps. If you're building a streaming media app, you can use Fire App Builder — a Java-based Android starter kit — to get up and running quickly.
  • Web App: If you're an HTML5 web developer, you can leverage the Amazon WebView to develop apps and games. You have the option to build HTML5 web apps, Cordova apps using the Fire OS port, or hybrid apps. If you're building a streaming media app, you can use the Web App Starter Kit for Fire TV to get up and running quickly. If you're a content creator rather than a developer, you can use Amazon Creator to create a Fire TV app using an easy user interface to configure and style your app.

Additionally, consider your skill set. Are you Java-based Android developer, or an HTML5/web developer? Choose an approach that aligns with your expertise and app requirements.

Android App Development for Amazon Fire TV

For Java-based Android developers, Amazon Fire TV uses the same tools, IDEs, and APIs you're already used to for Android development. To get started, see Fire App Builder, which is a starter kit for building Java-based Amazon Fire TV and Android apps. Fire App Builder is designed for streaming media TV apps (not games).

If you're building your own app from scratch, see these topics:

If you're an experienced Android developer, also check out this list of what's different about developing on Fire OS.

eBook on Developing Streaming Media Apps for Amazon Fire TV

If you're developing an app for Fire TV and want a high-level overview to help you navigate the Amazon landscape, see the eBook How to Develop Media Streaming Apps for Amazon Fire TV. This eBook contains best practices for designing for a 10-foot UI, information on Amazon’s dedicated tools and templates (Fire App Builder, WASK, and Amazon Creator), details on publishing to the Amazon Appstore, and more.

HTML5 Web App Development for Amazon Fire TV

If you're an HTML5 web app developer building a streaming media app, you can use the Web App Starter Kit for Amazon Fire TV (WASK). WASK is an open source project designed to get you up to speed quickly with a simple media-oriented app for Fire TV. This starter kit includes an example user interface designed for the 10-foot experience, support for the Fire TV remote control, and sample components that you can use to create and customize your own media app.

If you're building your HTML5 web app from scratch, see Getting Started with Web Apps.

APIs for Your Amazon Fire TV App

When you build your Amazon Fire TV app, you can also implement other Amazon APIs to provide a more robust experience:

  • In-App Purchasing API: When customers buy Fire TV devices and register with their Amazon accounts, they are already set up with their Amazon payment profiles and are ready to purchase apps or in-app items with no further effort. Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick support the Amazon In-App Purchasing API, so you can offer consumable items, permanently entitled items, and even subscriptions for sale in your app.
  • Amazon Fling SDK: The Amazon Fling SDK allows customers to fling or cast the screen that appears on their phone or tablet directly onto their television. Extending apps to two screens allows more than one person to engage with your app.

To see more Fire TV APIs and SDKs, see Apps & Games Services SDKs.

Device and Media Specifications

If you're looking for information about the media, device, and specifications Amazon Fire TV supports, such as video formats, DRM, codecs, resolution rates, and more, see Fire TV Device Specifications.

Naming Conventions for Amazon Fire TV Devices

Amazon Fire TV device names
Name Device Description
Amazon Fire TV Refers to the versions of Amazon Fire TV that are either a pendant (small box hanging from a USB cable) or set-top box. There are 3 generations of Fire TV:
  • Gen 3: Released October 2017
  • Gen 2: Released December 2015
  • Gen 1: Released April 2014
The latest version is called "Amazon Fire TV With 4K and Alexa Voice Remote (2017 Edition, Pendant)" on Amazon.com. The Gen 2 version is no longer available except as a refurbished device.
Fire TV Edition Refers to the smart TV with Fire TV built into the TV hardware. Called "All-New Element [43/50/55/65]-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV - Fire TV Edition" on Amazon.com. For TV dimensions (e.g., 43", 50"), weights (e.g., 20lbs, 28lbs), stand details, and mounts, see the Comparison Chart and Tech Specs on the Fire TV Edition – Smart TV page on Amazon.com.
Fire TV Stick Refers to the stick version of Fire TV. There are 2 generations of Fire TV sticks and an Edition:
  • Basic Edition: Released November 2017
  • Gen 2: Released September 2016
  • Gen 1: Released November 2014

From a hardware perspective, the specs for Fire TV Stick (Gen 2) and Fire TV Stick Basic Edition are largely the same (the build model, AFTT, is even the same) except that the Basic Edition doesn’t ship with an Alexa Voice Remote, and the UI is simplified with more of an app-centric experience. For example, the "Recommended By Your Apps" rows that is normally populated through Recommendations isn't shown on Basic Edition. The tabs on the top row are simplified, and you find apps by browsing the available categories rather than using search. Fire TV Stick (Gen 2) is available in US, UK, Germany, Japan, and India, whereas Basic Edition is available outside these areas in more than 100 countries or territories (see the full list here).

Amazon Fire TV Devices Refers to all versions/models of Fire TV devices (box, pendant, stick, smart TV)

When you upload an APK into the Appstore, the names listed for Fire TV devices varies a bit. In the Device Support dialog box, the names often used the release year as an identifier. The following table shows which names correspond to which device.

Device support name Retail name
Fire TV (2014)—AFTB Fire TV (Gen 1)
Fire TV (2015)—AFTS Fire TV (Gen 2)
Fire TV (Gen 3)—AFTN Fire TV (Gen 3)
Fire TV Stick—AFTM Fire TV Stick (Gen 1)
Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote—AFTT Fire TV Stick (Gen 2)
Amazon Fire TV Edition—AFTRS Amazon Fire TV Edition

Amazon Fire TV Forums

If you need help, have a question, or want to share other feedback, use the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick categories on the Amazon Developer Forum.