Back in July 2015, Amazon announced a Chromecast-like feature for its own Fire TV streaming box and Fire TV Stick. The feature was called Amazon Fling, and it would allow existing phone and tablet apps to play media on a nearby television, just like Chromecast can.

But over the last two years, that effort has languished. I can’t find a single high-profile streaming service that supports Fling, and when I asked several streaming companies about it, their responses generally ranged from no comment to no interest. (By comparison, Chromecast works with thousands of iOS and Android apps, including most major streaming services.)

Amazon hasn’t put much weight behind Fling, either. Although the developer documentation still exists on Amazon’s website, the company hasn’t publicly talked about Fling in more than a year. Amazon’s PR folks haven’t yet responded to my request for comment.

That’s too bad, because launching videos or music from your phone is sometimes easier than grabbing a remote and thumbing through menus on a television. And with the rise of voice-driven speakers such the Amazon Echo, a casting protocol like Fling would be useful for hands-free TV controls For Amazon, letting Fling fizzle out could become a long-term liability.

Cloning Chromecast

On paper, Amazon Fling and Chromecast behave in practically the same way. By pressing the cast button in a supported iOS or Android app, users can connect to a nearby television and choose what to play on it. The TV device then receives instructions in the form of a URL, allowing it to stream videos or music directly from the internet. The phone or tablet provides playback controls, and can also offer supplemental materials such as actor bios or scene shortcuts. Chromecast and Fling were so similar, in fact, that Amazon offered conversion tools for developers who’d already built Chromecast support into their mobile apps.

Yet most of the streaming companies I talked to either missed the memo about Fling or aren’t interested:

  • Scott Olechowski, the chief product officer and co-founder of Plex, said he can’t recall Fling ever coming up in the company’s discussions with Amazon.
  • A representative from CBS All Access said the company has no plans to support Fling (and didn’t seem to know what Fling was until I explained it).
  • A representative for Pluto TV said the company is aware of Fling, but the Fire TV platform is “so popular that we decided to build a completely native app” instead.
  • Engineers from Nuvyyo, makers of the Tablo over-the-air DVR, said the company hasn’t explored Amazon Fling support, arguing that a native app is superior for watching live TV anyway.
  • A representative for Vevo said Fling isn’t something the company is working on or supporting at the moment.
  • Representatives from HBO, FuboTV, and FilmStruck all declined to comment.

I also reached out to NexPlayer, a company that sells video player tools to streaming services, and added Amazon Fling to its developer toolkit last year. But Carlos Lucas, NexPlayer’s vice president and head of downloadable technologies, said he’s not aware of any NexPlayer clients that are supporting Fling today.

Amazon

Rivet Radio is one of a handful of apps that support Amazon Fling.

Why casting matters

The common thread in some of these responses is that Fling support isn’t necessary if the streaming service already offers a native Fire TV app.



Source link