Amazon blocks sideloaded Fire TV app that auto-launches Kodi on boot

It was expected, but Amazon has blacklisted OnBootKodi, a 3rd-party app that automatically launches Kodi when the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick boots up. This is now the third app that Amazon has blocked from running on Fire TV devices, joining FireStarter and FiredTV Launcher. If any of these three apps are found installed on the device, then the app is disabled.

The method used by Amazon to disable OnBootKodi is the same as the one used to disable the first two blacklisted apps. The device settings database file on Fire TVs, located at /data/user/0/com.amazon.device.settings/databases/Settings.db, contains an entry called DisableApps. That entry contains the package names of blacklisted apps, which the Fire TV searches for each time it boots up. The entry now reads “com.altusapps.firedtvlauncher,de.belu.firestarter,com.xtraordinair.onbootkodi”, which are the package names of the three aforementioned apps.

Amazon continues to use Android’s standard package management utility to disable blacklisted apps, despite there being a “Not In My House” app, which appears to be an app dedicated for the task. As far as I can tell, the “Not In My House” app has remained dormant since its arrival late last year, and is even excluded from some devices.

Since Amazon has not changed the way they block blacklisted apps, those with rooted devices can still disable the blacklist, re-enable the blocked apps, and continue using blacklisted apps. I’ve verified this to be the case and have updated my guide to include instructions for re-enabling the OnBootKodi app.

What the three apps that Amazon has blacklisted have in common is they all bypass the Fire TVs default home screen launcher. When the developer of FireStarter removed its auto-launching capabilities and relaunched the app under the new name AppStarter, Amazon did not blacklist the new app. It seems Amazon does not care how you use the Fire TV, as long as you go through their main interface first.

As I’ve discussed in detail in the past, Amazon’s business model for the Fire TV is to sell the device for little to no profit and make money through the daily use of the device, whether that be buying video content, making Amazon purchases through Alexa or the new shopping app, banner ads, or several other methods. It’s this business model that they’re protecting by blacklisting apps which threaten their potential profit.

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27 comments
  1. Adam says:

    I understand the business model. But I continue to say that I would eagerly pay a premium, say 50% more, $150, for a FireTV with an unlocked bootloader that I could run how I want. Obviously there would be no warranty. Heck, make it a Prime only deal to increase the likelihood of buyers at least being familiar with Amazon videos.

    Honestly, this is a great little box, and there’s lots of past precedents for companies profiting both financially and in customer goodwill by selling “power user” versions of their products, ie. wrt54gl’s, Google Nexus and Pixel lines of phones, etc.

    That said, I suspect that this would increase the device’s susceptibility to pirating incoming streams and therefore the idea is dead before its even considered. I guess I understand this since Amazon has been successful in keeping pirated content of FireTV devices thus far…

    • Y314K says:

      This is why I’ve always explained the answer to the ? Why would I want root ?

      Rootable/Rooted Device (Including Unlocked bootloader) = Fully owned device.

      Rootable/Rooted Device (Locked bootloader) = Partially owned device.

      Non-Rootable Device = Rented device aka with more limitations that can be changed at a whim of the device maker.

      • Adam says:

        Agreed. Remember, it was Amazon that proved, with the book 1984 no less, that you neither own the ereader nor the books you thought you bought from them. Both can and will be reclaimed at Amazon’s whim.

        More recently, a maker of a wifi accessible garage door opener proved why Internet of Things devices are such a risky bet when he remotely deactivated a customer’s garage door opener because of a one star review and told the “customer” that the only option he had was to deinstall and return the device.

        Think about that for a second…

        Now, I say this as the happy owner of multiple FireTV (rooted) and Echo devices, but I have no illusion that I am an actual owner of these devices. I use them only with the literal permission of Amazon. The other side of that coin is that I will not hesitate to replace them with other devices that work as well and can be owned by me using your definition.

        The competition isn’t quite there with the FireTV yet, but it is getting intriguing.

        • Y314K says:

          Had not heard of that case. Man is that bad. Cars are going that route too.

          We can “own” the hardware but the software that makes it run is mostly a rental.

          I’ve been lucky & got into the scene right when FTV1’s where still fully unlockable (bootloader too). Been waiting for a worth while hardware update. But I might have to rethink my options. Just glad my FTV1’s are still going on strong. So no rush for now.

          I didn’t even take part in the W10 exchange they had. Since it was basically a free OS for all your future private info type of scam.

          • Adam says:

            Depending on your needs, I don’t know that the FireTV2 is a compelling upgrade from the original. For me it brought 4k capability, but if you don’t have a 4k TV, that’s a non-issue. And while its nice knowing that I’m looking at a 4k image, I can’t say that its remarkably better than 1080p, certainly not like the difference between SD and HD was.

            Elias showed how much horsepower difference there was when running a game like Sin City (actually quite a bit) but the FireTV 1 has more than enough juice for any streaming or Kodi/SPMC use you’re likely to throw at it.

            And the FireTV2 lacks the optical audio out that the original FireTV had. So that meant that when I bought a FireTV2, I either had to upgrade my otherwise perfect 5.1 sound system, or buy one of the few TV’s that output 5.1 through optical. (Luckily I already had the latter)

            So like I said, depending on your needs, you might have the more capable device.

          • Y314K says:

            Had to reply to myself since we are at the end of this messaging service reply depth.

            Right, No 4K TV’s here so no upgrade there. For me an actual update would probably add OTA recording aka PVR capability or something useful like that.

          • Adam says:

            Whoops, one of the Grand Theft Auto games was the video game Elias tested, not Sin City. Clearly I don’t game much on my FireTV. ;-)

          • Adam says:

            Briefly off topic in response to the W10 exchange.

            The moment between (the excellent) Windows 2000 and Windows XP’s product activation (aka: please sir, may I use this?) was when I moved exclusively to Linux.

            My phone has an unlocked bootloader and custom firmware. My router only runs third party open source firmware. My ereader is not supervised and approved by Amazon or Barnes and Noble. No Nest controls my AC or furnace, no short lived start-up company controls my living room lights.

            I can’t say that engaging in intrusive practices that take the customer for granted hurt the companies that do so, I can only say that they definitely do in this household.

          • Y314K says:

            Right, although so many folks don’t even understand the word privacy. And only look at tech for the cool factor.

            I really should learn Linux. I actually like it. The few distros I’ve played with. I just never really went all in. I think I even own a full online Linux course that was given for free a few years ago. I think it is still part of my account. Just have to sit down & learn things.

            I hear you in on the router front. I’ve been a Shibby Tomato guy for years now. There is no comparisons to any other router FW. Plan to move to AdvancedTomato for the aesthetics soon too.

            Let me ask you. How good are you on Tomato or open source fw. Trying to get my single router to become my AIO solution for VPN, Non-VPN, NAS & other functions. Would like to pick you brain about them. If you have a XDA-Developers account. Can you PM me there. Same nick as here. We can get into more details there. ty

          • Adam says:

            I played around with setting up my VPN on Tomato for about 10 minutes before I realized that the VPN client apps on my PC and phone served my need better than a router based solution.

            I do love Shibby Tomato though.

          • Ryan says:

            Upgrading from FTV1 to FTV2 was worth it for me because the FTV2 includes hardware decoding for HEVC/x265 video codec, so I was able to transition most of my media library to the much more efficient codec (half the size for same video quality, or same size for higher quality).

            I just use my TV’s stereo speakers so I’m not an audio aficionado.

  2. Y314K says:

    Was this done thru the “5.2.4.2 Software update” or on the fly (They just updated the list to include the OnBootKodi app without having to wait for any other update/system update) ?

    • AFTVnews says:

      It was done on the fly. This is actually why I hadn’t posted about the 5.2.4.2 update yet, because I was digging through and checking various devices to see if the blacklist and the software update were linked. They are not linked.

      For example, a rooted Fire TV 2 I have that is still on 5.2.4.0 with updates blocked has received the new blacklist.

  3. xnamkcor says:

    And thus continues my ever vigilant quest to not press one more button every week or so when I end up rebooting my device.

  4. Eric says:

    rooting is very important, as this new blacklist shows. 5.2.4.0 update was rolled out since November 2016, and still not rooting method for it. Why does it take so long for the rooting method to come up? Will it ever be rooted?

    • Eric says:

      I am checking kingroot every day for the new apk. Is kingroot the only apk able to root fire tv? It’s killing me, waiting so long to root 5.2.4.0

      • mark says:

        Kingroot is a piece of crap. It has been since November 2016 and they still don’t have a version to root 5.2.4.0. Fire tv 2 is running Android 5.1, so, what is the reason still no root for 5.2.4.0? They don’t want to release the root for Fire tv 2. Screw them.

    • tech3475 says:

      All these root methods rely on exploits being found, no exploit == no root.

      • Eric says:

        does anybody know if 5.2.4.0 doesn’t have any exploits, or just exploits haven’t been discovered so far?

        • chess101 says:

          Eric, don’t hold your breath. The rooting of 5.2.4.x is not coming any time soon, maybe not coming at all. The reason is Kingroot is the only app to try and root fire tv, no one is working on it. And it’s not that Kingroot is specifically trying to root fire tv. They work on rooting specific android phones. It just so happened in the past that the versions they released found exploits on fire tv. So, to be frank, no one is working on fire tv rooting.

  5. Koying says:

    Kodi 18 now has “launch on boot” built-in, as spmc already has.
    Wonder what Amazon will do about it…

  6. LTM says:

    Technically firestarter is not disabled, just doesn’t work the way it used to with the U.I home button access. It’s still functional as an app though and I prefer the interface to Amazon’s. Arrow down twice in the Amazon U.I and select the firestarter house icon using the remote. It’s still the best way to go for me since I use a lot of apps as well as Kodi.

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