Various video streaming platforms have their advocates, with Roku and Apple TV hardware, as well as Google's Chromecast, frequently getting the green light from discerning viewers. But Amazon's Fire TV Sticks (and the Cube and the TV) are also major players in the streaming scene, and have the distinct advantage of integration with the hugely popular Amazon Alexa for everything from voice search to streaming. smart home automation.

TechRadar shot down the Fire TV platform in previous reviews for having a somewhat confusing and ad-ridden interface. Another Fire TV complaint: Its search feature revealed unrelated content and also aggressively directed viewers to purchase options on Amazon Prime Video. Amazon had to be careful, because it has just released a series of improvements aimed at simplifying the look of the Fire TV interface while improving its search function.

"Recent updates put Search and My Stuff at the top of our home page so customers can quickly find content and access their watchlists, rentals and purchases," said Joshua Danovitz, director of Fire.TVExperience.

What does this mean for viewers who rely on a Fire TV Stick, Cube, or TV for their streaming video experience? There are several specific changes to be aware of:

  • An icon-based navigation bar replaced the text bar previously used by Fire TV. Not only does it look better, it simplifies access to key features like Start, Search, and Live. The updated bar also provides easy access to a user's favorite apps and personal profile.
  • Search and search have been combined into a unified content discovery destination. After clicking the magnifying glass search icon, viewers will be taken to a page where they can search for movies and TV shows, as well as browse recommended and trending content categories.
  • The heavy Library destination has been replaced by the relaxed My Stuff. This is where viewers can access their watchlists as well as rented and purchased content, as well as search for recently released and regularly used apps.

I reached out to an Amazon spokesperson to see if the Fire TV update fixed our ad clutter issues. Here is the response I received:

“Advertising on Fire TV serves two purposes. The first is content discovery: helping customers find new content that they might not otherwise have seen. The second is ad-supported content, which allows customers to enjoy more free content.”

Amazon's old Fire TV interface used to be cluttered. (Image credit: Amazon)

Analysis: Is Amazon Fire TV set for success?

Comparing the screenshot of the new Fire TV interface at the top of this article with the image of the older version further down the page, it's clear that Amazon has made some thoughtful tweaks. The new user interface is clean, simplified and attractive. It also doesn't seem cluttered with the company's own content, ad-supported or otherwise, and leaves room for deals from streaming services other than Amazon Prime Video.

Does the updated search function live up to expectations? It's something we can't wait to see the next time we come across a Fire TV streamer, whether it's in the form of a bar, cube, or flat screen TV.

For now, let's just say that Fire TV has a lot of competition on the streaming platform front. The Roku and Apple TV hardware offerings in particular offer a very easy-to-use, clean screen interface for selecting apps and browsing content. Both also have voice search options which always give good results. I'm not sure why anyone would necessarily choose Fire TV over these platforms unless it's the Amazon universe, which the company is heavily promoting through its Amazon Prime subscription, which gives you fast shipping at no charge for products purchased on the company's website. website, then free streaming from Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Music begins.

One big thing about Amazon's streaming sticks is value: At just under $50, the flagship Fire TV Stick 4K Max is priced competitively with Roku's Streaming Stick 4K, and it's a relative flight compared to the expensive Apple TV 4K streaming box from Apple. And the Fire TV Stick 4K Max hardly skimps on high-end features, offering Dolby Vision and HDR10+ support along with a speedy processor and Wi-Fi 6 antenna.

The integration of Alexa into Amazon hardware also provides a built-in advantage over Roku for those looking to engage in automated activities like lighting, temperature, and security camera control through the Fire TV Home Smart Dashboard. When you add it all up, Fire TV hardware offers a lot for a low price, and the company's efforts to make the UI and search more neutral and consistent could go a long way toward making it a star player.

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