Tutorial: How to build an Amazon Fire TV app… in an afternoon!

Tutorial:  How to build an Amazon Fire TV app… in an afternoon!

I was probably a little hard on the Amazon Fire TV when it first came out.   Since then the device has matured and most of my complaints have actually been addressed.

One of the biggest pain points I found with Fire TV initially was developing a channel to distribute content.  It really felt like stumbling around in the dark.

Recently Amazon stepped up their support for us “Indy” studios and offered everything you need to get started with Fire TV.  To make it even easier, I have broken everything down for you below.

1. Download the Amazon Fire TV application template

Amazon’s developer portal offers plenty of information for setting up and distributing a channel on the Fire TV.  To get started download the Fire TV Starter Kit.   Unzip the contents of the package to a folder.

2. Upload the app to your server

The app we are using is actually a “hosted web app”.   You can read more about it here.   Basically the “app” resides on your hosting server in a directory or subdomain and is accessed remotely by the users FireTV.

For my most recent project I actually created a sub-domain called “tv.mydomain.com”.   If you are not sure how to do this, check with your hosting company.

Once you have everything created, upload all the files from inside of the “Build” directory of the unzipped Starter Kit.

For the purpose of this tutorial you will also need to upload the “Assets” directory.

Now visit the location in your web browser.   You should be presented with the basic Fire TV layout and some demo content.

3. Adding new content

There are 2 ways (thus far) to add content to the Fire TV app.

First, you can go into the “Assets” folder and edit the file genericMediaData.json file in a text editor.  Simply replace the listed values with your own and upload it to your server.

Secondly, you could use WordPress and our RoVidX Pro Video Management plugin to dynamically serve your content.  This allows you to easily add new content to your blog & Smart TV devices all from within WordPress.

(Shamless plug: It also does Roku & Chromecast as well, allowing you to easily manage content on multiple devices).

4. Tweak the Starter Kit to meet your needs

Now you can easily change the CSS or Images and customize the template to meet your needs.  I literally just changed the background and the logo and I had a working Fire TV app.

Conclusion

It is still early days for Internet TV devices, so many good things are to come (including more app templates!).  Fire TV has made it the easiest to get started thus far (though I hear Google’s AndroidTV might be just as easy) and a great starter point for any Indy studio.

Stay tuned!   I’m going to do tutorials for Roku, Chromecast and Android TV soon!

Rob

Rob

Rob Davenport is the owner of RoVIDX Media Solutions which is a small company specializing in video production tools for Internet-based broadcasters. He has been recording Internet based audio programs since 2001 (before there was podcasting) and started a video podcast in late 2009.


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