Amazon this morning announced a series of updates for its Fire TV set-top box and Fire TV Stick, including a new feature that will allow the streaming devices to work over WiFi in hotels, dorm rooms and other networks that require special web authentication before getting online.
The company also announced that it’s expanding the Fire TV Stick to the UK and Germany, where it says the original Fire TV is the best-selling streaming media box on Amazon.com.
The updates are Amazon’s latest move to compete with the likes of Roku and Google’s Chromecast in the market for streaming media devices. Amazon offers Netflix, Hulu and other streaming apps on its Fire TV devices, but also integrates the experience tightly with its own Amazon Prime Video service.
With the update, Amazon says the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick will become the first streaming media devices to support captive portals — those additional web authentication dialogs that users face before getting online in places like hotels, dorm rooms and airports.
Other new features announced Tuesday morning:
- The option to use expandable USB storage on Fire TV, via the device’s built-in USB port;
- “Private listening” support for wireless Bluetooth headsets with Fire TV;
- The ability to browse and search curated Prime Music playlists from both devices;
- Better PIN security by hiding the numbers on the purchase confirmation screen;
- New shortcuts on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick remotes, including the ability to put the device to sleep or enable display mirroring by pressing and holding the home button.
Amazon says the features will be rolled out in a free, over-the-air software update.