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Amazon UK’s Fire TV head talks new interface, Sky partnership a

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(Cybertech) – We spoke to Emma Gilmartin, head of Fire TV in the UK to talk about the new Fire TV interface as well as Amazon’s deal with Sky.

Gilmartin says the new Fire TV experience is designed to make it even easier to access the content you want to watch more quickly. “I think it becomes even more pertinent now that we have so many more services launching,” she says.”We have all of the major content services in the UK now. And so, it’s super important that customers can access content quickly. 

“The nice thing about the new experience is that you don’t have to go in and out of different apps, regardless of the provider. The content that you most recently watched is put in the centre of your screen.

“And so that could be from BBC iPlayer, from Netflix or whoever else. Or you could have been doing some kind of other activity with Fiit or Peloton, for example, and that’s also going to be at the centre of your screen – so really helpful. 

You now have new functions on the screen – home, find library and profiles, which makes it easier for you to navigate around. As with Alexa on other devices, your voice can be recognised so Fire TV will switch to your profile. Profiles are saved to your Amazon account, too, so they work across devices. 

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The key navigation has been moved to the centre of the screen. We asked Gilmartin what the motivation was behind this but the answer is rather simple – it’s “the part of the screen customers are looking at the most. The first part of the screen that customers see.

“In the previous experience we had what we call our feature rotation. Which is fine, but it only allows you to put that one piece of content there. And then that might not be the piece of content that everybody’s interested in. So what’s more interesting for us is to move that upwards and then right at the centre of the screen have the ability to look at what you’ve, most recently watched or what you might be more interested in. 

And if you were looking for something new, then the menu will help you get to the next place you want to go as quickly as possible. It was based on customer feedback, but having the most relevant functions and content at the centre of the screen is the most customer-centric approach.

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In terms of getting the new update – which is coming to latest generation Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite devices initially -it’ll be a “completely seamless experience” says Gilmartin.

“I think [customers] will be surprised and delighted when they when they get it.” Videos are also available to guide people around the new interface, too. “The good thing about this is it’s not, it’s not a complete 360-degree change. A lot of the best functionality is there from the previous experience. What we’ve done is made it a lot easier for customers so I don’t think there’ll be a huge hurdle for customers.”

Coming to older devices, too

We asked Gilmartin to confirm if the new interface will be coming to older devices. “Yes, and as quickly as possible…we’ll get to all of the other devices as well.”

One thing we were particularly interested in with the new interface is that there remains no division between on demand series and live content, for example, Premier League football. It can be difficult to see what’s ‘live now’ for example. “Yes, it’s something we’re working on,” says Gilmartin. “We’re evolving all the time and I think we will evolve really fast with this new experience. And I do think, you know, being able to split out live content from recently watched or series content is something we will focus on.”

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Recently, Sky and Amazon signed an agreement that saw Amazon Prime start to roll out on Sky Q boxes. Reciprocally, Sky’s Now TV app has also debuted on Fire TV devices, too. We asked whether the timing was designed to coincide with Prime Video’s glut of Premier League fixtures in December. “We aim to get things ready as quickly as we can and we deliver them to customers as soon as they’re ready.

“And so it’s nice that it’s right ahead of the Christmas season right in time for all of the content where people are going to be hopefully have a bit more time to not be on so many video calls and watch with their families. Though I think the timing is great, we just bring it [out] whenever we can.”

Could we see Amazon try and offer a one-stop subscription service as Sky has tried to do and bundle in other services?
Gilmartin is cagey about this but says that it will be considered. “We will always continue to look at what customers are asking us for. And if we see a need in the future to try and put these services together and give customers a one size fits all approach then that’s something will work on. For now, there’s so many different services customers can sign up to [and] I think the main focus is just making it easy for them when they unwrap the device.

Writing by Dan Grabham.



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