Notifications (Amazon Fire TV)

Fire TV devices support standard Android notifications through the Android Notifications API. These notifications appear in a "Notification Center," as described below.

What Are Notifications?

A notification is a message to your users that appears outside of your app’s user interface. Amazon Fire TV supports the Android Notification API, with some limitations.

Typically you use notifications to let users know that you have an update available with your app. The update might be any of the following:

  • New content available
  • New levels in a game
  • New episodes available for an existing series
  • Live TV channel lineup changed
  • New game packs available in your app
  • New functionality
  • New badges or rewards earned
  • New release

You’re probably used to receiving messages from the various apps on your smartphone. Notifications for your Amazon Fire TV apps can provide the same kind of user engagement. The notifications are a way of reaching out to users to encourage them to re-engage with your app in some way.

Types of Notifications Supported on Amazon Fire TV

There several types of notifications you can create on Amazon Fire TV:

Heads-up Notifications

Amazon Fire TV supports Android’s heads-up notifications. Typically on Android devices, heads-up notifications are floating windows that appear at the top of the screen and allow users to interact with the window (such as receiving a call while you’re in another app).

On Fire TV, heads-up notifications appear at the bottom of the screen and fade away after a few seconds. Some interaction is allowed while the notification appears. For example, users can click a button or dismiss the notification with the Back button.

All undismissed heads-up notifications will be displayed in the Notification Center, where users can review the notifications at their leisure. This also ensures that users will actually see the notifications. (Previously, if users missed the heads-up notification, there wasn’t any way to return to it.)

When you create heads-up notifications, you must set the notification as a high priority:

.setPriority(Notification.PRIORITY_HIGH) // heads up must be high priority

Progress displays and stacked notifications are not supported on Amazon Fire TV. Regarding layouts, heads-up notifications are limited in height to normal layouts only (there are no expanded layouts).

Toasts

Though rarely used, Fire TV also supports toasts. Toasts are small pop-ups that appear within your app briefly and then disappear, with no ability for the user to interact with the message. Unlike heads-up notifications, toasts are not stored within the Notification Center.

Standard Notifications

Standard notifications are informational in nature and do not interrupt the current foreground activity (unlike heads-up notifications, which pop-up in the bottom-right corner of the screen). Notifications from your app are added to the Notification Center as soon as they are raised.

The Notification Center appears under the Settings menu. When users have unseen notifications, a little bell appears next to Settings.

Within Settings, users select Notifications. This opens what is referred to in the documentation as the Notification Center.

The Notifications Center arranges the notifications in a single list ordered by most recent first. The Amazon Fire TV Appstore client itself will send notifications when your app has an update (hence you don’t have to worry about pushing these kinds of notifications). In the following screenshot, there are two apps that have updates.

When users click the icon, they see the updates available for the app. Users can choose to update the app or not.

Notifications should contain enough information to convey the reason for the notification. They can also include an optional intent to launch when the notification is selected. For example, your notification can allow the user to launch your app with a deep link to the specific activity related to the intent.

When the update finishes, the user is prompted to launch the app.

Users can also turn app notifications on or off on a device-by-device basis. (More granular notification configurations are not possible.) Users can control app notifications by going to Preferences > Notification Settings > App Notifications.

Users can also select Do Not Interrupt to suppress heads-up notifications from appearing on the screen. (You will still see standard notifications in the Notification Center and see the bell icon on Settings on the main navigation.)

All notifications appear in the Notification Center until the user engages with the notifications, dismisses them, disables notifications for the app, or until the app removes them.

A notification that was not dismissed while displayed as a heads-up notification will appear in the Notification Center.

Each notification indicates the time or date it was received.

As soon as a user visits the Notification Center, whether to click on a notification or not, the bell icon on “Settings” is removed.

Requirements for Notifications

The following table lists requirements for notifications.

Feature Description Required?
Large Image A large image used as the tile image in the notification card. This image appears in the Notification Center. The image should be a 16:9 aspect ratio. The actual size of the image container is 228dp with x 128dp, so the image should be at least these dimensions (or larger). Larger images will be scaled down. See setLargeIcon for more details. If a large image isn’t provided, Fire TV will use the large app icon. Optional
Action Android intent to launch app or deep-link. Optional
Title Title of the notification. Required
Description Description of the notification. Required
Action Text Text for the Menu button (the default is "Launch now"); this is only included in notifications marked as Urgent. Optional
Priority Android priority for the notification (range is -2 to +2). If the priority is +1 or +2 (HIGH or MAX), the notification is considered an Urgent notification. If not included, the default priority is 0. Optional

Code Samples

For code samples and technical instruction on how to create notifications, see the Notifications in the Android documentation.

System Notifications

Amazon Fire TV also sends system notifications to users. Although third-party apps can’t replicate or initiate system message notifications, it’s worth mentioning them here. Common Fire TV system notifications might include the following:

  • Low battery status
  • Disconnected headphones
  • Bluetooth pairing
  • Application download/installation complete
  • Other system updates

These notifications appear as small popups in a corner of the screen and can be raised over any content that is on the screen. System notifications will also be stored in the Notification Center (unless users dismiss them in the initial display).

Amazon Fire TV also provides notifications when your app has an update. These notifications aren’t something you create with your app but rather are triggered by the Fire TV appstore client.

Fire TV creates two types of app update messages. A “Required Update” message is a visual prompt on an app icon, indicating that there is a new update available.

Another update message is presented to users though an on-device dialogue box. When users start a new session in your app or game, they are presented with the option to “Update Now” or “Launch without Updating” along with details describing what’s new in the update.

App Update Notification

After the app has been installed, users get a quick notification letting them know it’s ready to launch:

Post-Install Notification

Migrating from the Deprecated Amazon Fire TV Notifications API

In the past, Amazon Fire TV included a custom notifications API designed for TV use. As of Fire OS 5, the Amazon Notifications API is deprecated. If your app uses the Fire TV Notification API, those notifications will continue to work, but that API will be removed from the platform at a later date. If your app uses the Amazon Notifications API, we strongly suggest you move to using the standard Android (Lollipop) notification API instead.

To migrate your app from the Amazon Notifications API:

  • Remove all references to AmazonNotification and AmazonNotificationManager as well as to the package com.amazon.device.notification. These can be replaced with the stock Notification and NotificationManager classes in the Android notification API.
  • References to the AmazonNotification.setType() method and the TYPE_INFO and TYPE_MEDIA_INFO constants should be removed. Android notifications do not specify these types.