Later this year Google and Amazon will bury a big streaming-app hatchet.
Soon Fire TV will get an official app, complete with Alexa integration and the real YouTube logo, instead of this weird blue tile that leads to YouTube's web site.David Katzmaier / CNET
In a joint announcement, the two companies say an app for Google's YouTube, YouTube TV and YouTube Kids services will be available "in the coming months" on Amazon's Fire TV streamers and TVs worldwide.
Separately, the phone and tablet apps for Amazon Prime Video will be able to connect to Google Chromecast streamers as well as devices that run Chromecast built-in and Android TV. That change too will happen in the coming months.
These two separate upgrades to Fire TV and Chromecast streaming devices address longstanding incompatibilities and improve their users' access to YouTube and Prime Video, respectively. The upgrades also help Fire TV and Chromecast better compete against the likes of Roku, Apple TV and most smart TV systems, which have long had YouTube and Prime Video apps.
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There's some history here. In 2018 Google pulled YouTube from Fire TV devices in retaliation for Amazon's stopping sales of Google's Chromecast devices on its web site. Things have changed since then; the newest Chromecast has been on sale at Amazon since soon after its fall 2018 launch.
Despite lacking an official YouTube app, Fire TV customers have always been able to access YouTube.com via a browser. And since the browser version on Fire TV looks basically identical to the YouTube app, users might not even notice the lack of an official YouTube app after they encounter the initial browser choice window (below).
Currently Fire TV users get YouTube via a browser.Sarah Tew/CNET
The new Fire TV YouTube app will have some advantages over the browser-based workaround currently in place. One of the biggest is compatibility with Amazon's Alexa voice system, allowing users to ask for videos from Google's service directly.
There's no browser-based workaround for YouTube TV, a cord cutter live TV service. Currently Fire TV users can't access it at all, but will gain access once the app appears.
The companies did not announce a YouTube app for the Amazon Echo Show, which also currently requires a browser workaround.
Coming soon to Prime Video apps: The ability to Cast from a phone to Chromecast, just like Netflix.Sarah Tew/CNET
Meanwhile Chromecast users have never has access to Amazon's Prime Video apps from phones and tablets (although they could Cast videos from Amazon's web site via Chrome browsers on computers). To work with Google's Chromecast streamers, an app requires the little Cast icon at the top, something present on just about every other video app including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and thousands of others. Prime Video has long been the most important app that lacks Cast functionality.
Many devices on the Android TV platform, including the Nvidia Shield and Sony TVs, have Prime Video apps already, but Google says the app will be available on every device that runs Android TV soon. Vizio TVs with Chromecast built-in also already have Prime Video access.