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Amazon Is Testing a Web Browser for Fire TV (Report)

Variety logo Variety 3/31/2017 Janko Roettgers

Amazon’s Fire TV could soon get a full-fledged web browser, if new findings from gadget enthusiast blog AFTVNews are any indication. Amazon’s Silk browser, which the company developed for its Android-based Fire tablets, reveals a number of TV-specific tweaks when installed on the streaming device, according to the report.

The browser isn’t officially available for Fire TV just yet, but AFTVNews was able to “side-load” the application, which involves installing it from a USB drive.

Upon doing so, the browser launches a navigation tutorial that explains how to use it with the Fire TV’s remote control, and make use of its integrated microphone for voice search. The browser also allows users to pick videos embedded in a web page, and then play them back in full screen mode.

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Users who side-load the app aren’t currently able to use it out of the box, since voice search doesn’t work yet, and there is no way to enter website addresses. However, AFTVNews published a separate app on Friday that actually allows users to pick web pages they want to visit, and then launch the browser with those sites. It’s a bit of a complicated work-around, but at least it lets users experiment with the new browser until it is officially released.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on when that may be.

Amazon wouldn’t be the first company to add a browser to a streaming device. In fact, some of the features discovered by AFTVNews this week are very similar to the browser developed for the original Boxee Box, which launched all the way back in 2010.

Back then, many TV networks responded by blocking the device from accessing their web-based content. It’s possible that publishers are going to respond with similar means this time around to make sure that their content only gets accessed through their own TV apps.

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