Amazon Opens The Doors To Web Apps On Fire TV, Fire TV Stick

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Amazon’s living room devices, the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, can now run web applications. The company announced this morning that it’s allowing web developers to publish their HTML5-powered applications without having to do native app development. Instead, developers only have to enter in the name of their app and its URL in Amazon’s Web App Tester software, or they can supply a .zip file to package their app then preview how it looks as a Fire TV application.

The support for web apps is an extension to Amazon’s earlier efforts at expanding its app lineup by going after developers who don’t yet offer – or don’t plan to offer – an Android application.

Today, many app developers still code for iOS first, namely because that’s where the dollars are. For everyone else, a web version of their app or service often has to suffice. But those web applications can’t be downloaded or viewed from app stores like Google Play unless they’re packaged in a native wrapper of sorts. That can limit potential exposure and discoverability for a developer’s applications.

To combat the problem, Amazon in August 2013 opened its Appstore up to web applications, allowing developers to simply submit URLs in order to release their “app” to the public, reaching Kindle Fire tablet owners as well as any Android device owners who happened to also have Amazon’s Appstore installed.


Now, developers who previously took advantage of that option, as well as other newcomers, can publish the apps to run on the big screen via the new support for Fire TV (Amazon’s Apple TV competitor) and Fire TV Stick (its Chromecast-like dongle).


To make this possible, Amazon says it made additions to WebView to include support for the Fire TV/Fire TV Stick hardware, plus input from the Amazon Fire TV Game Controller and other gamepads. It’s also allowing developers to generate revenue for their apps, via its support for its In App Purchase (IAP) API via JavaScript. This isn’t the first time web developers have been able to make money through their apps on Amazon, however – the company this January allowed developers to set a price on their app downloads. But many games use in-app purchases to generate revenue, so support for this API is crucial to developers’ bottom lines.


The apps are powered by Amazon WebView, which includes support for WebGL, GPU optimized CSS3 Transition, and fast JavaScript code execution, says Amazon. The company is hoping for both traditional media apps and HTML5 games emerge for its devices, it says.

An open source template is here on Github. Developers submitting packaged apps can go here. For those who previously launched their web app for Fire tablets, the Web App Tester is here.