As promised in February, Amazon has started rolling out a major update to more Fire TV devices.
The update significantly changes the look of the Fire TV home screen, and while it launched back in December for Amazon’s latest Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite, it now arrives on the Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube, and hanging Fire TV. (Support for the second-gen Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Edition smart TVs is coming later this year, but it sounds like Amazon is leaving the original Fire TV Stick and Fire TV boxes behind.)
While the new Fire TV experience is generally an improvement, it can take some getting used to, and it has some new features that you might not notice right away. Once you̵
Get the update
If your Fire TV device is eligible for the upgrade and you don’t see any major changes yet, go to Settings> My Fire TV> About and select ‘Check for updates’ or ‘Install update’. This can trigger the update on your device, but it’s also possible that Amazon hasn’t rolled it out to your device yet. In that case, you just have to be patient as there is no way to force the update on devices that didn’t receive it.
Rearrange your apps
To change the order of apps on your Fire TV’s home screen, click the apps button on the home screen, which looks like a set of three squares and a + sign. From there, select the app you want to move, press the menu button on the remote and select ‘Move’ or ‘Move forward’.
Choose your best apps wisely
When rearranging apps, keep in mind that the six apps you place at the top will be given a special status. They will appear at the top of your home screen and some will even suggest things to look at as you scroll over them. This is a great way to get quick recommendations from some of your favorite video sources. (Not all apps support these “app peek” recommendations, but I’ve found Netflix, Prime Video, Disney +, Apple TV + and Paramount +, HBO Max all work fine.)
View previously installed apps
Here’s a long-awaited improvement in the new Fire TV interface: Amazon no longer lumps current and previously installed apps into a single, bulky menu. Instead, only your installed apps will be displayed when you load the full list of apps.
However, that doesn’t mean your list of main apps is gone. Simply click on “App Library” at the bottom of the all apps menu for a list of everything you have previously installed.
Set up family profiles
Profile support is an important part of the new Fire TV interface, allowing each user to have their own list of favorite apps and recommendations. You can also create child profiles with age-appropriate content and an optional PIN to keep them written down. To switch profiles or add a new profile, click the profile icon at the far left of the toolbar.
Access to quick commands
As with the previous Fire TV interface, you can still long press the home button to access quick commands, including your full list of apps, sleep mode, screen mirroring, and settings. This works even if you are using a different app. The only difference now is that you can also switch profiles from this menu.
Browse suggestions faster
One of Fire TV’s biggest annoyances is the way it recommends content on the home screen without citing the source. Too often you click on a movie or show to find out that it requires a rental fee or an additional subscription.
Here’s a partial solution: From the home screen, click the menu button instead of the select button. If you see the “Watch now with …” option in the lower right corner, it means that you can access the content in any of your installed apps. Otherwise, you will likely have to download a new app or pay extra. This isn’t a foolproof solution – it doesn’t seem to work when multiple free viewing options are available – but it’s faster than clicking through to a separate menu for each recommendation.
Use the filter “Free for me”
For an even better way to find things that don’t cost extra, go to Search> Movies or Search> TV Shows, then click the “Free to me” filter option. This provides a set of recommendations that are free with ads or included with your existing plans. You can also search for the ‘From your subscriptions’ heading while browsing by genre.
Become friends with the “Search” menu
If you’re in the mood for a specific kind of movie or show, check out Fire TV’s new search menu, which you can access right from the home screen. Scroll all the way down and you’ll see a list of genres to check out.
Make the most of your watchlist
The Fire TV Watchlist can be a useful way to bookmark movies and shows from various streaming services, but it will be moved to a new location in the latest update. Go to Search> Library and you will see the watchlist at the top.
The best way to add movies or shows to the watchlist is to search by title, actor, director, or genre. Click on a result and select ‘Add to watchlist’.
Check out more free stuff
Speaking of relocated features, the old Fire TV interface had a top-level “Free” menu that suggested ad-supported movies, shows, channels, and apps. That menu is still available, but you’ll have to dig a little deeper for it, under Search> Free.
Manage your live TV channels
The Fire TV Guide is a great way to see what’s streaming live on services like YouTube TV, Sling TV, Philo, and Pluto TV. Still, you might not want to see every live channel the guide sucks up. To customize the guide, go to “Live”, scroll all the way to the bottom, select “Favorites” and press Select on your remote. From here you can hide entire streaming services from the guide, and by clicking on each service you can hide individual channels as well.
Once you are in the guide, you can also add channels to your favorites list. Simply press the menu button on a channel and then ‘Add to Favorite Channels’. To view your favorites, press the menu button again, select ‘Filter channels’ and select ‘Favorite channels’.
Use Alexa’s new shortcuts
Use some Alexa voice commands to navigate the Fire TV’s new menu system even faster. By pressing and holding the voice button on the remote control, you can navigate to any part of the interface. Here are some commands to check out:
- “Go to live”
- “Go to Free”
- “Go to comedy movies”
- “Go to science fiction programs”
- “Switch to [profile name]
Remember, you can also ask Alexa to launch specific movies, shows, or live TV channels if your streaming services support it. For example, say “Play Godzilla to Kong on HBO Max ‘or’ Tune in to ESPN on YouTube TV ‘.
More Fire TV tips await
Check out this list for additional tips to get even more out of your Fire TV, many of which will work even if you’re still using the old Fire TV interface. And if you have any other questions, feel free to get in touch.
Sign up for Jared’s Cord Cutter weekly newsletter to receive this column and other cable cutting news, insights and deals delivered to your inbox.