Amazon Fire TV code hints at plans for single sign-on support

Alongside the rollout of its TV app last year, Apple introduced support for single sign-on in iOS and Apple TV, which allows you to enter TV provider’s credentials just once in the Settings so that you can watch streaming TV across a number of authenticated TV apps without having to configure each one with your credentials. Now, it appears that Amazon is working on a similar feature for its Fire TV platform, too.

According to the site AFTVnews, code tucked away in the latest software update for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick includes new “OTTSSO” libraries – a name that features the commonly used acronyms for “over-the-top” (OTT, referring to streaming services) and “single sign-on” (SSO).

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These libraries were not present in any previous software version, says AFTVNews’ Elias Saba, and they’re used to facilitate app activation by the operating system on behalf of the user. Single sign-on appears to be early in its development on Fire TV, however, as there’s not yet a front-end interface for Fire TV users where they could login with their TV provider credentials, he notes.

“It’s really too early to know anything more than SSO being in the works. It seems as though [Amazon] wanted to add just enough for third-party app developers under NDA to begin building in support,” Saba says.

There’s also no list of supported apps, though it’s likely that Amazon’s list will be similar to Apple’s, found here. This includes the major broadcasters like ABC, Fox, and NBC, as well as a number of cable and sports channels, like ESPN, Disney, Bravo, Syfy, TLC, USA, HGTV, Discovery and others.

Watching TV through individual network applications is something that those who pay for cable or satellite TV can do by providing their credentials. But it’s still a messy and disjointed experience. Before single sign-on, you would have to painstakingly type in your username and password for each app you wanted to use.

But single sign-on alone isn’t enough to simplify things, which is why Apple also introduced its own “TV” app that aggregates content from across the networks’ apps, as well as from streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and others.

If Amazon Fire TV were to support SSO, it probably wouldn’t hide all the TV apps’ content and recommendations away into a single app like Apple’s “TV” app, though. Instead, Amazon has been fine-tuning the Fire TV’s user interface to pull in content and recommendations from across apps to appear right on the Fire TV home screen. It has already partnered with Netflix and HBO to deliver personalized suggestions from their services, and it potentially could do the same with other networks’ content down the road.

Asked about the apparent forthcoming support for SSO on Fire TV, Amazon declined to comment.