Amazon may use Google’s Android as the basis for the Fire OS software that powers Amazon Fire tablets, Fire TV devices, and Echo Show smart speaker (with a touchscreen display). But the company doesn’t let you stream Amazon Video to Chromecast devices and Amazon doesn’t sell Google products including the Chromecast media streamer or Google Home line of smart speakers.

So Google is fighting back: a company spokeperson tells CNET that Google will stop YouTube from working on Amazon Fire TV devices starting January 1st, 2018.

The company is also pulling the plug on YouTube for the Amazon Echo Show (for the second time since Amazon launched that device, actually).

It’s not entirely surprising that the two companies are fighting in this space: both Amazon and Google make and sell their own media streamers, smart speakers, and tablets (although Amazon’s clearly a much bigger player than Google in the tablet space at this point). And both have their own music and video streaming services, which are direct competitors to one another… although you already cannot use Google Play Music or Google Play Movies & TV on a Fire TV device, so the latest dispute is just over YouTube (which is probably more popular than either of those other services anyway).

So no, it’s not surprising that two companies competing for customers in similar niches are fighting. But it is frustrating for folks who just want to be able to use a single device to stream all their media.

It’s also a bit odd, because the YouTube service that runs on the Fire TV? It’s not really an app so much as a version of the youtube.com/leanback website. In a statement issued to The Verge, Amazon responded that “Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.”

There is a pretty simple solution though: don’t buy a Chromecast or an Amazon Fire TV. Get a Roku instead. Right now I’m not aware of any media streaming device that supports more online media sources than Roku’s products.

I picked up a Roku Streaming Stick+ when it was on sale on Black Friday, and I’m quite impressed. It may not be able to run native Android apps like Kodi the way my Amazon Fire TV Stick can. But it boots very, very quickly, streams media from Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Google Play, or Plex like a champ. And the model I picked up has a WiFi booster for stronger wireless performance, which is nice to have.

While the Streaming Stick+ isn’t on sale anymore, the cheaper 2017 Roku Streaming Stick is. You can pick one up for $40 this week, which is $10 off the list price).

Of course, now that Roku has started offering its own free (ad-supported) movie streaming channel, I wonder how long it will be before Google and/or Amazon decide Roku is a competitors and pull their apps from the platform.

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28 replies on “Google is pulling YouTube support from Amazon Fire TV, Echo Show”

  1. Roku is great. It can even stream music and video from a media server, has a PlayOn channel, etc. with no need for the weird lashups and gyrations required for other “media players.” I don’t expect Amazon to drop their Roku channel any time soon. Most of the Roku remotes even have a dedicated “Amazon” button – and this may be one of the largest consumers of Amazon’s video content.

  2. Lets see google pull youtube from itunes and then we know they are serious.

  3. I have all the streaming boxes and all have their strengths and weaknesses. My Shield TV is probably the one I use the most, since it is the fastest. The newer Apple TV (not the 4K that just released) my daughter has in her room, since she is drunk on the Apple Kool-aid. The Fire TV box so we take with us when we visit the in-laws or stay with other family so we can have our movies and streaming services to watch. All of these boxes are great and fast but all lack applications.

    We have a Roku in most of the rooms and use the Spectrum app on them instead of renting cable boxes. My media TV (for my PS4) is a Roku TV also. Roku is my favorite streaming box as it has the most apps, but also has two big issues; there is no keyboard in the API and the interface is dated on newer apps due to the API limitations. The keyboard missing causes every app to have a different way to enter logins, with some difficult to navigate. You can use the phone app to work around this, if your phone is handy. As for the interface, many of the apps on my other boxes have new, clean and intuitive interfaces. On the Roku though, they are dated and lack many of the innovations of the newer updates. I spoke to a Roku representative at Bestbuy last week and he said that it is their biggest complaint. He said that the issue with updating the interface is that it will cause many of the older and smaller Rokus to slow down due to limited hardware — the basic capabilities are what keep it fast.

  4. “it boots very, very quickly, streams media from Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Google Play, or Plex like a champ.”

    Excuse me for my ignorance. But how do you stream media from Google Play? Last time I checked it was the place to download Android apps from… which you say don’t work on the Roku (native .apks) Sorry if it’s a too trivial question.

  5. There is no accountability in tech. What today’s OSes are doing in terms of surveillance would have been inconceivable a decade ago. Blocking a website, refusing to sell a competitor’s product… would be lines that no one would have dared cross in such a vulgar manner. These guys are all out of control.

  6. Doesn’t Amazon have a walled garden? Only reason I haven’t purchased Amazon tablets for my son is it doesn’t have easy access to Youtube, which is DOA for any kid.

    1. Yes and no. It is walled like iTunes for Apple products. This means that they want to sell you movies, but it connects to Movies Anywhere so most of your movies from other places are available. Amazon uses its own app store which has hundreds-of-thousands of apps and services. You can use HBO Go/Now, Starz, Showtime and other apps, even though Amazon sells these services directly from their app. Spotify is there also. Things like Vudu, Google Movies, FandangoNow, Apple Movies and other competing services are not available. Many can be sideloaded though, and most of their devices can be rooted and Google Play can be added, if you have the skills.

    1. Okay, I usually ignore up/downvotes as I find them a misrepresentation of value, but this time I’m curious: dear Mysterious Downvoter, please share your insights why this comment is deemed of your pointless aggression? Do you disagree with a question? Maybe It doesn’t stand well with you, that I ponder on Google’s morals? Maybe you hate Amazon and wholeheartadly embrace the youtube-embargo on those Amason Fire peasants? Oh, you Glorious Google Masterrace, speak up, so I can better myself and be worthy of you esteemed upvote!

  7. I’ve been using my old Chromecast to cast the Amazon Video tab I have open in Chrome. Seems to work quite well. I guess people who don’t have real computers anymore only have these problems.

    1. The point of casting is so you don’t need to have a computer turned on to watch a TV…. Your solution is equivalent of just plugging HDMI to your laptop and watching Prime Video through the laptop.

      1. The point of casting is to not need a computer? I wholeheartedly disagree. If they didn’t want to encourage this use case, why did they implement tab and whole screen mirroring?

        Besides, the difference is this is wireless. My desktop is in another room, and I’d probably need a 50 foot cable to connect it to my TV. I don’t currently have a laptop with an HDMI port, and for various reasons would find getting such a laptop more expensive than a Chromecast. I find your false equivalencies dishonest and disturbing.

        1. Are you still using incandescent light bulbs around the house? Do you also keep all your lights turned on around the house even when you’re not in those rooms? Do you keep your desktop powered on throughout the night? You don’t sound like you care about your energy bill. Your solution of chromecasting from a desktop is energy wasting. The difference in power consumption between the average desktop vs the chromecast is at least an order of magnitude. If I want to watch Man in the High Castle for majority of the afternoon, I certainly do not want to keep my computer on for the entire day – especially if it’s a hot summer day. Tab and whole screen mirroring is useful for short term use, like displaying a PowerPoint presentation in the meeting room or showing your vacation photos/videos… not to watch streaming TV content.

          Also, power consumption aside, your solution sounds like a pain in the behind if you want to watch something else? To change content, you’d have to run to the other room to change it or keep moving a wireless keyboard + mouse between the living room and the desktop and have to worry whether the wireless RF reception can reach the desktop, or having to buy a another set of wireless keyboard/mouse to keep in the living room. Also wireless has other factors that can impact performance, HDMI cable is strictly for getting video from your device to the display, no processor-intensive encoding required, no impact from wifi performance, no impact from other users. Just because you can doesn’t mean it is a good solution.

          1. A swing and a miss! Yes, I do keep my desktop on all the time, but it is performing useful work all the time, as a server, network manager, or performing various long computational tasks related to my work (mostly long renders and video uploads).

            Also, I have this handy thing called a smartphone which allows me to access the computer when I’m not in front of it. Wonders of the modern age…

            I don’t know why you’re arguing against a use case of the Chromecast that seems to work quite well outside of just the consumption-based features. But no, you’re right, I should just buy a 50-foot HDMI cable to go from my desktop, through the kitchen (over the island, no less), and to the far side of the living room where the TV is. Yes, that is a much better solution. Or yeah, I’ll just drop a few hundred bucks on a laptop just so I can replace the cheap Chromecast. That’ll recoup in electricity costs in what, never?

            All in all, I find it a wonderous solution. Also, most of your rant seems to be unrelated to the original point and response.

          2. “I don’t know why you’re arguing against a use case of the Chromecast that seems to work quite well outside of just the consumption-based features.”

            No it doesn’t work quite well, it gets the job done but it doesn’t work well. If you need to courier documents from your house to the city hall. You can drive the documents in your car and transport that document or you can simply request the city hall admin to allow you to scan those documents and email it. My argument with the laptop is that you driving your documents in your car is like carrying that document and riding a bike to the city hall. It still takes time. You are saying, but driving a car is better because it gets there faster. I’m saying driving a car wastes gas. You are saying, but you’d rather spend that money on gas than buy a bicycle since you don’t have one. So this is where the argument has strayed. You think I’m arguing getting a laptop is a better solution. But I’m saying you chromecasting from your desktop is as about as good of a solution as someone using their laptop to watch Prime Video content. It gets the job done, but it is a hacky solution. Wasting gas to transport document gets the job done. But I wouldn’t want to be doing that if I have to do this frequently. Nor do I want to ride a bike to transport those documents if I have to do this every day. Like I said it gets the job done for short temporary uses but not permanent use like watching TV.

            Bottom line is, Amazon should just enable native chromecasting from web interface or from the mobile app. That solves the problem just like if the city can allow you to email scanned documents in. No bikes, no cars, no wasting gas, etc.

            You presenting your hacks are not permanent solution to problems. I would remote to my desktop via my tiny screen smartphone if I have to as an ad-hoc or a last resort during a work emergency and I’m out without my laptop, but I’m not doing that on a regular basis. I’d rather invest in a laptop to do that.

          3. That makes a little more sense, but still misses the fundamental point. You’re giving up the power of general computing for relying on fickle companies to support apps that you need. I’m not saying everyone should get a beefy desktop to do everything for them, but they should encourage the use of general protocols like screen sharing that work no matter what, not taken away at the whim of Google or Amazon when they get into a spat over competing video platforms, or whatever other anti-consumer reason they come up with.

          4. You’re absolutely right. Unfortunately that is why I had to buy both a MiBox and a FireTV. If I didn’t want to shell out $40 for a FireTV stick I’d probably resort to plugging my laptop in or just not even bother watching Prime Video contents at all. At the end of the day, they lose customers.

  8. Amazon responded that “Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website.”
    says the company whose marketplace lacks chromecast

    1. What a load of crap. How about this? Go to google.com and check out the links to Google product pages. You want to talk about fair? Oh wow, Amazon doesn’t sell Google stuff. Big. Freaking. Deal. Googe advertises and links to their own products on the search box page. You want to talk about fair, ethical, and who’s hurting who?

      1. @Graham. I don’t think you understand the difference and this isn’t just Google getting annoyed – it’s the customers. It absolutely ticks me off I had to resort to buying a FireTV because I can’t watch my $99/year Prime Video on my Android TV MiBox whereas a free service like YouTube is available on FireTV. FireTV is crap when you compare it to AndroidTV with it’s bloated and cluttered home screen and it’s ridiculously outdated OS. But, guess what, I was forced to buy one because of lack of Prime Video on Android TV platform.

        1. That’s strange. The Amazon app is available on my Nvidia Shield TV, so I am able to watch all my Prime and owned videos with it. Are you sure that it isn’t available in the app store? I got my father-in-law the MiBox last year for Christmas, so I can check his the next time I am there.

          1. Just googled it up, looks like Amazon is targeting specific devices only.

        2. I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying Peter. Sorry. On the topic of what Google has done, consider the magnitude of this type of mentality maybe next year or the year after that. You can ask the “what ifs” now. It’s feasible that Google will become more territorial, permitted the PR backlash isn’t going to be noticeable. Google has ZERO need for Amazon product listings. GOOGLE HAS SEARCH BOX ads linking to their own store. NOBODY ON EARTH CAN COMPETE WITH THAT. If Google can link to the new Google product under the search bar (even before getting to a search results page) then they don’t need ANYONE. So let’s not say oh it’s so bad that Amazon doesn’t list the Google products. That’s like saying Google needs to show Amazon links under the search box.

          1. I don’t know what you’re talking about with this search box. If you go to Google and search “FireTV”, you get search results for only FireTV. The first link is the link to Amazon’s FireTV, on the side you get a description of FireTV, with review ratings of FireTV and links to FireTV, first one being Amazon. And even Google shopping sites like Google Shopping or Google Express has links to buy FireTV. Oh and even the ad under the search bar is the FireTV direct to Amazon, nowhere on this page do you see anything about AndroidTV, Nexus Player, or Chromecast. On Amazon, if you search Chromecast, your first result is the FireTV, and then, above that, there’s an extra notification ad box that advertises FireTV. If this was fair, Google should show FireTV search result with zero links to FireTV and the first result should be “Chromecast” and the ad under the searchbar should be Chromecast. Wouldn’t you agree?

            I don’t have a problem against a store advertising their own product. I have a problem against a store going out of their way to not sell a competing product and then at the same time push ads to buy their own product when a consumer is looking for a competing product.

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