Attention Fire TV Owners: YouTube could soon disappear from your Amazon streaming device. But you still have options.
Google threatens to take YouTube out of Fire TV before January 1, the latest round in a fierce battle between the two heavyweights of technology. If that happens, Fire TV owners can still look in a phone, tablet or personal computer. That includes an Amazon Fire tablet, since Google has not threatened to block it yet.
For those willing to leave Fire TV, almost any other device will play on YouTube. Not everyone will play videos from Amazon, although Apple TV just received the Amazon application on Wednesday.
These are some of the reasons why you might prefer to use Fire TV, and some do not.
YouTube was never the centerpiece of Fire TV to begin with. It is not even a complete application on Fire TV, just a link to a YouTube website designed for mobile devices.
Fire TV is best viewed as an add-on to the $ 99 Amazon Prime Loyalty Program per year instead of a full online streaming device. Although Amazon has improved the promotion of rival services, the video available through Prime remains prominent.
The device has Amazon's built-in Alexa voice assistant. In addition to the weather, sports scores and stock quotes, it offers playback controls for selected applications. That allows you to ask Alexa to advance 30 seconds, for example.
Amazon's $ 40 Fire TV Stick is good for normal HDTVs. If you have a higher resolution 4K TV, you'll want the regular Fire TV for $ 70. There are not many videos in 4K yet, but the price difference is small compared to what 4K TVs cost.
The current dispute centers on Amazon's refusal to sell some Google devices that compete with Amazon products. That includes Google's Chromecast, a streaming device that is cheap but a bit complicated to use, since you must start the video on your iPhone or Android phone and then change the transmission to the TV.
Many video services work with Chromecast, but Amazon does not allow its video service to work with the Google device.
Google offers other manufacturers their own software for streaming devices called Android TV. On those devices, Google's YouTube and Play services often get outstanding billing in the search results, but at least you can get the Amazon video. Again, not iTunes.
Roku has one of the most complete channel libraries: more than 5,000, many of which you've never heard. You can get videos from YouTube, Google Play and Amazon, but not iTunes.
Roku's Express sells for only $ 30. The $ 50 Streaming Stick offers a remote control with volume buttons and voice search, although we are talking about basic queries related to programs and applications, not controls of reproduction or information such as weather. The $ 70 Streaming Stick Plus adds 4K and HDR. The bells and whistles in the $ 100 Ultra include a remote control that will emit a sound that will help you find it under the cushions of the sofa.
Apple TV is the only device compatible with iTunes. It also has YouTube, but there is no Google Play. Amazon joined Apple TV on Wednesday.
Although an iPhone is not required, Apple TV will be more useful with one. The basic device is $ 149; a version with 4K and HDR costs $ 30 more. You are paying for the experience, in particular, the integration and synchronization with other Apple gadgets. For example, you can write passwords on an iPhone instead of browsing a keyboard on the TV.
Siri offers playback controls and information queries similar to those of Alexa and Google Assistant. The touch-pad on the remote control offers faster forwarding and rewinding than its rivals.
And although all the streaming devices offer more than just video, Apple TV goes much further by offering an experience similar to that of an iPhone on a large screen. You can browse the Ikea catalog or order food from Grubhub, for example.
Anick Jesdanun is an Associated Press writer.