Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Amazon App for Android Phone finally gets Prime Instant Video Viewing. Fire TV (for viewing videos on TV) expanding to the UK and Germany.

Note that this app is optimized for the Android phone (different dimensions from tablets), which when run will install the Amazon Prime Instant Video viewer the first time you choose a video. The video viewer will then always run from inside the Amazon for Android app.

  The Android app's product page has an alternate title of "Amazon App or Android," which probably means the version specifically for Android tablets could be coming later.

Those currently trying to use this on Android tablets with the older Android app for tablets will tend to find this doesn't work and will need to use the Amazon App for Android Phone (quietly released August 28) that supports the Prime Instant Video viewing.  For some tablets, the phone-focused app works.

. Reports from users are that it works well on Nexus 5 and 7 (and Cast Screen to the TV works with Prime); and Galaxy s5 at high resolution.  These are from early reports I viewed.

. Devices reported by users to have problems with the app currently:
  Some Galaxy Tab 3 phones, Galaxy S4, HTC One M8, Galaxy Note 2014, LG G3

    (Until the problems on some devices are resolved, you can always use
      the old workaround while making sure that you use the Amazon setting recommended
    and linked to in that article -- 'Flash' rather than 'Silverlight.
    This recommendation is mainly for the workaround.)

A main source of discontent (already) is that the app does not support Google's Chromecast device (to send video to the TV).
  Any who are eager to get it working on their TV in the meantime are able, however, to get the Amazon Fire TV box, for $99, which is both faster and much more capable, performance-wise, and has far more features.  You can view the Prime Instant video on the TV and run it from the Cloud, freeing up your phone or tablet for other activity.  You can also do simple mirroring, without lag.

  Fire TV is UK and Germany bound
    The box is expanding to the UK and Germany, shipping Oct. 23 in the UK and Jan. 1, 2015.

  Some articles on the Fire Tv:
* "The Set-Top Box That'll Read Your Mind" - Huffington Post, UK
* "...possibly the best single set-top box available ..."
* "I bought the Amazon Fire TV, and I love it which ends with a link to the full, more balanced review.  The Voice search is getting some cooperation, by the way, from both Netflix (down the line) and from Hulu already.
*   Recent improvements for Prime Instant Video on Fire TV.

I like the Chromecast for its portability, but I think the FireTV is a natural for those (especially families) who want to watch Prime Instant videos on their TV's with no-fuss and no lag.

BACK to the Amazon App for Android Phone and its Prime Instant Video viewer

From today's press release
Title: Prime Instant Video Now Available on Android Phones -- Exclusively Via the Amazon Appstore

Date(s): 9-Sep-2014 9:00 AM

Prime members can now enjoy unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes on their Android phones, including HBO shows such as The Sopranos, True Blood and The Wire, as well as popular series like Downton Abbey, Under the Dome, 24, Extant, and Suits, and the Amazon Original series Alpha House--and for kids, exclusive subscription streaming access to SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, and Amazon Original shows for kids, Tumble Leaf, Creative Galaxy and Annedroids

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sep. 9, 2014-- (NASDAQ:AMZN) -- Amazon today announced that Prime members in the US, UK and Germany can now enjoy Prime Instant Video on their Android phones. The latest update of the Amazon App for Android combines the fast and easy mobile shopping experience customers have come to know and love with access to unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes from Prime Instant Video. After updating their existing Amazon App for Android, customers wishing to stream Prime Instant Video movies and TV episodes can install the Prime Instant Video player app, which is delivered exclusively via the Amazon Appstore. Prime members can enjoy popular HBO series like The Sopranos, True Blood, and The Wire, as well as favorites like Downton Abbey, Under the Dome, and 24, on their Android phones at no additional cost to their membership. Eligible customers who are not already Prime members can sign up for a 30-day free trial to start receiving all of the benefits of Prime using the updated Amazon App for Android. Customers who don't yet have the Amazon App for Android can get the latest version at amazon.com/androidapp.

The new Amazon App for Android phones provides an award-winning mobile shopping experience on hundreds of millions of physical goods and now enables customers to discover and purchase all of Amazon's digital catalog.

The new Amazon App for Android includes:

Hundreds of millions of items for purchase, along with Customer Reviews, 1-Click purchase and access to account and delivery information
Tens of thousands of movies and TV shows available for unlimited streaming for Prime members, including favorite HBO shows such as The Sopranos, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under and The Wire, and Amazon Original series like Alpha House, Tumble Leaf, Creative Galaxy and Annedroids
More than 200,000 movies and TV episodes to rent or buy
Over 30 million songs
More than two million Kindle books, along with over 150,000 audiobooks and more than 600,000 exclusive books that customers won't find anywhere else
5GB of free photo back-up with Amazon Cloud Drive
"Tens of millions of our customers have installed the Amazon app on their Android phones in order to enjoy the ease and convenience of shopping Amazon on the go," said Paul Cousineau, Director of Mobile Shopping. "Now, the latest Amazon App for Android combines that award-winning mobile shopping experience with access to Amazon's digital products and services, including unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost for Prime members. At Amazon, we are always innovating on behalf of our customers and we look forward to receiving their feedback on this enhanced shopping experience."

Customers can visit amazon.com/androidapp for more information about the new Amazon App for Android.

Prime Instant Video Exclusives

Prime Instant Video is the exclusive online-only subscription home for a large and constantly-expanding selection of hit series, making it the go-to destination for Prime members who want to stay up to date on their favorite shows. Popular choices include HBO classics The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome and Six Feet Under, recent HBO favorites Eastbound & Down, Enlightened and Flight of the Conchords, and select seasons of current HBO series True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Treme. Other hit TV show exclusives include PBS series Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, FX dramas The Americans and Justified, as well as 24, Orphan Black, Falling Skies, Hannibal, Grimm, Workaholics, Suits, Covert Affairs, Teen Wolf, Veronica Mars, CBS summer blockbuster series Under the Dome and now, Extant. Prime Instant Video also offers an exclusive collection of kids shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. that customers won't find on any other online-only subscription service, including favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Blue's Clues, and The Bubble Guppies. Airing now, Amazon's first original series Alpha House and Betas and first original kids series Tumble Leaf can be found exclusively on Prime Instant Video as well.

Customers can enjoy Prime Instant Videos on hundreds of compatible Amazon Instant Video devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Fire phone, Kindle Fire HDX, Kindle Fire HD, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation and the Wii. Prime Instant Video is the only U.S. online subscription streaming service that enables offline viewing--on a plane, on vacation, and anywhere else where you may not have Wi-Fi. Customers can download tens of thousands of Prime Instant Video titles to their new Kindle Fire HD or Kindle Fire HDX.

About Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video is a digital video streaming and download service that offers Amazon customers the ability to rent, purchase or subscribe to a huge catalog of videos. Customers can choose from more than 200,000 titles to purchase or rent--movies range from new releases to classic favorites, and Amazon Instant Video offers major television shows, entire seasons, or even day after air TV. Prime Instant Video is Amazon's video subscription offer--it includes tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes selected from the full assortment available at Amazon Instant Video.

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  1. By definition, this app is for Amazon customers. But the implementation is bafflingly ugly and awkward. I almost feel like Amazon is trying to make the experience unpleasant. Why is it not just a matter of downloading a single app from Google Play? Instead this is what I had to do on my two Android devices:

    Xoom (Android 4.1.2): as you note, the Google Play app that supports video is for phones only. 'Amazon for tablets' from Google Play does not have this capability, and it would not let me install the 'Amazon for phones app'. So I had to install the Amazon app from the Amazon Appstore. Which means I have to install the Amazon Appstore (which I have had on there, but it needed to be updated first). Then you need to download the Prime Instant Video app from the Appstore. So I did all of that and tried to watch 'All Is Lost'. It frequently paused and complained about my 'slow' internet connection. I think my Xoom does have some issues with wifi but I don't have issues with other video streaming. I wound up watching the end of the movie on my Fire HD, which worked flawlessly. But all the Instant Video app does is to launch the Amazon (store) app, as far as I can tell. It is pretty ugly, and it feels like watching video with a browser.

    On my Moto G, I could download 'Amazon' app from Google Play. But to continue, you need to get the Instant Video app from the Amazon Appstore, which meant I'd have to install the Appstore. I stopped at this point, realizing I actually don't want to watch extended video on such a small screen, especially as it doesn't support ChromeCast, and apparently doesn't support Miracast (Fire TV) second screen, either. ChromeCast is great, by the way.

    I need to run and will have some more comments later. Summarizing: I'm unhappy with what they've done.

  2. (to continue:) So I'm unhappy about the performance, the lack of screen casting (probably does not even cast to Fire TV), the need to install Appstore when I prefer to get Android apps from Google Play, and the fact that it is bundled with the Store app. I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon, but prefer to do that with a browser (even on a mobile device) because the mobile app filters out so much of the information I need to reach a purchase decision, and the mobile app doesn't support 'Smile' contributions. I feel like they are imposing by forcing Appstore as well as the full store app on me just to watch video I've purchased or am paying for via Prime membership. It seems the people at Amazon responsible for promoting the Appstore and mobile storefront for buying Stuff got too much say in how Amazon Video was deployed on Android. For me, they have pretty much ruined the experience. (I'll be sharing my thoughts with Amazon of course).

    Note that tablet support exists, but you have to get the Amazon app from the Appstore instead of Google Play, and that app does support tablets. Since one is already required to install Appstore, there's really no loss of functionality involved.

    Above, what do you mean by "and Cast Screen to the TV works with Prime"? To Fire TV? What has Prime got to do with it?

  3. Or maybe (as some speculate) this awkwardness is the product of having to workaround Google's lack of cooperation in allowing the video app to be in Google Play directly. After all, the inconvenience of it really does nothing to attract new Android customers to Amazon Instant Video when there are so many other options. That doesn't make a lot of sense either though as it drives people to iOS where you have access to most Amazon and Google services and offerings with less compromise (and without the reminders to 'shop, shop, shop' as the apps have no storefront in them).


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