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Amazon blocks custom Fire TV home screens & button remapping, warns against side-loading

20 Feb 2023 | Rasmus Larsen |

With the latest software update, Amazon is making Fire TV more restrictive by blocking button remapping which comes after blocking the ability for users to install custom home screens (launchers)..

The Fire TV platform is built on Android – a so-called fork – but Amazon wants it to be a walled garden with its own user interface, apps, and ads to secure recurring revenue after selling the hardware at close to cost.

New update blocks customization

Amazon has pushed out a software update to prevent users from remapping the sponsored buttons on the Fire TV remote control, according to a report by AFTVNews. Hardware makers typically get money from streaming services to put a dedicated sponsored button with a logo on a remote. So far only the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is affected, but AFTVNews expects other devices to receive a similar update. The giant previously took steps to block users from switching away from Fire TV's default home screen to an alternative home screen, also know as a custom launcher. This block was pushed out to existing Fire TV devices with software updates for Fire OS 7 (ver. and Fire OS 6 (ver. There is no easy way to deselect automatic software updates. Amazon recently launched the Alexa Voice Remote Pro remote that has two customizable buttons.

Fire TV interface

This is the default home screen and Fire TV devices and Amazon wants to keep it that way

Warns against side-loading

Lastly, Amazon has started to warn users about side-loading apps on their Fire TV devices. Through side-loading a user can install apps that are not officially available from Amazon's Fire TV app store. Side-loading is still possible but a popup message now reads: - "WARNING: When you use applications from unknown sources, your TV and personal data are less secure and there is a risk of unexpected behavior. You agree that you are solely responsible for any damage to your device or loss of data that may result from using these applications." The option to install custom home screens and remap buttons remains available on Android TV devices. These devices also let you side-load apps. - Source: AFTVNews (2, 3)

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