Amazon rejects Fire TV apps that peek over their walled garden

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Amazon is in the business to sell you an experience with the Fire TV, not just hardware. That’s why they’re able to sell the device at cost and keep the product line a worthwhile venture. When apps like homescreen replacements, launchers, and media players try to change that experience, Amazon has been swift in rejecting these apps from the official Fire TV Appstore.

About a month ago I submitted an app to the Amazon Fire TV Appstore called Kodi Launcher. The app simply launched Kodi if it was installed on the Fire TV. If Kodi was not found, it displayed a message saying so. Since Kodi itself would never officially be in the Amazon Appstore, I figured this app would be a simple way to launch Kodi form the Fire TV homescreen. I also submitted an identical app which launched XBMC and one which launched SPMC. I knew Amazon had rejected homescreen replacement apps in the past, but I thought my apps may be accepted because they did not try to replace the homescreen in any way.

The apps had been “under review” for 3 weeks when I contacted one of Amazon’s developer evangelists to see why the review process was taking so long. He was very nice and quick to help. The next day I received an email stating that my apps were rejected because they “override the native user experience.” This was similar to the response that the developers of FiredTV Launcher and AGK Launcher received when they tried submitting their apps to Amazon’s Fire TV Appstore.

The developer of SPMC, an unofficial Kodi spinoff app, also tried to submit his app to the Fire TV Appstore. The app was approved for the general Amazon Android Appstore, but was rejected from the Fire TV Appstore with a generic reason similar to the one I received.

The only official Fire TV app I know of capable of launching sideloaded apps is Application Organizer Pro. My theory is that this app slipped past Amazon’s reviewers because you have to enable an option buried in the settings menu for the app to actually launch anything. Other than this one exception, Amazon has been consistently rejecting apps that play nice with sideloading. Add that to the fact that SPMC was rejected and it’s clear that Amazon wants to keep Fire TV users inside their walled garden.

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40 comments
  1. 100millionshiveringfurryholes says:

    Just give us the links to the APKs. We’ll push them over. :)

    • AFTVnews says:

      There’s no point to sideloading my launcher apps because they won’t show up on the Fire TV home screen if they aren’t approved by Amazon. If they’re not on the Fire TV home screen then really they’re pointless to have sideloaded since all they do is launch Kodi/XBMC/SPMC. I hope that makes sense.

      • TheCodingDutchman says:

        I don’t really know anything about Android and the Amazon FTV launcher, but this issue with apps not appearing in the AFTV launcher seems like something an Xposed module ought to be able to fix. Has anyone familiar with Xposed (such as rbox) tried this?

        • ActionA says:

          Except that installing Xposed requires root. FireTV stick is currently unrootable (by reasonable means) and most full FireTV’s shipping now are already updated to unrootable (by reasonable means) firmwares.

      • Patt says:

        I have no idea why you never mentioned aftvlauncher helper.. the guy did a great job I use it on 1 unrooted stick and 1 unrooted AFTV.

        It works everywhere on every amazon menu but “HOME” so you can simply slide down to prime video,hold home button and it will open custom APP like Kodi I use it and works great.

  2. Wayne G says:

    So if someone were willing to sideload your Kodi and SPMC launcher apps just to try them out for the sake of, say, beta testing them for you( wink, wink)where would one find the APKs?

    • Josh says:

      If someone were to sideload his launcher apps, they’d be buried in Settings -> Manage Applications listing too, along with Kodi and SPMC, which defeats the entire purpose of his launcher apps. Amazon would need to approve them as App Store apps, for them to show under the native Apps or Recent sections.

  3. Porkie says:

    You would do the same thing if you were amazon. Amazon is in the entertainment business the same way Google, Apple, and a lot of other companies are. The sell entertainment made by others and get a cut of the sales. It would be beyond stupid for Amazon to make any other lancher a native Fire TV app, and it would also be beyond stupid for them to make any version of Kodi a native Fire TV app. The Fire TVs default launcher is how amazon makes their money, so why would they be dumb enough to accept another launcher to be a native app? You may be mad that they rejected your app, but if you would have just used common sense you would have known it was gonna get rejected. Just like SPMC, Amazon wants you to buy from them so why would they accept SPMC as a native app? Don’t be naive. Amazon will never never never never never ever accept any app that takes away focus of buying things from them. You will never ever see Amazon accept another launcher, Kodi or any other app that hides their default launcher or lets you get your media from anyone else but them. You should be happy that Amazon has a good business plan and cares enough about their business to make good decisions about what they want on their device. Investors would drop amazon quickly if they just started accepting apps that did not fit into there format. The amount of companies that allow Amazon to sell their products would be drastically reduced if they accepted SPMC as a native app. Accepting SPMC would kill Amazon Prime and that would be horrible for business. The day Amazon accepts third party lanchers and Kodi is the day I lose all respect for them. Any mildly intelligent person can see exactly why they wouldn’t accept certain apps, so your writeup is pointless and makes you look whiney and unintelligent.

    • Rob says:

      Just…. Wow…. Naive…. Well we all obviously know how Amazon and Sony and Microsoft etc work, but it’s worth a shot to keep trying. Kodi makes mine and many others experience better and it’s not just to rip off Amazon. Get lost troll

      • Bob says:

        This guy trolls XDA forums too with the same ranting. Too much free time I suppose.

      • Porkie says:

        SPMC makes my Fire TV better too, and thats exactly why Amazon does not want it as a native app. If you are using Kodi to watch media, it means you are not using Amazon Prime, which is what Amazon wants you to do. So accepting any form of Kodi takes away from them making money. Yes people are still gonna use Kodi regardless, but Amazon is not dumb enough to make it a native app so that people can use it instead of their product. That would be like Jeff Gordan sending his pit crew to work on other drivers cars, it would be like Apple allowing Google to have their own app store on IOS devices, It would be like McDonalds handing out Burger King coupons, it would be stupid. JJust because you cannot usderstand business does not make me a troll. Kodi takes away from all the entertainment companies by giving people an option to watch foor free what they should be paying for, so unless Kodi allows Amazon to sell their product or pays them to sell it, you will never ever see it as a native app for the Fire TV. Its pretty simple, Amazon Prime is their product, Kodi does the same, but for free, so they would be stupid to allow Kodi as a native app. Think about allowing someone to punch you in the face, it would be a dumb idea. Us uning Kodi on the Fire TV is an unallowed punch in the face, but Amazon making Kodi a native app is an allowed punch in the face, and no boxer with common sense is gonna allow that. Smarten up, take a business class. Pepsi doesn’t adverrtise Coke for a reason and its the same reason Amazon doesn’t make Kodi available to its users. They are a business, PERIOD.

        • robert says:

          I has nothing to do with that. Amazon already allows Plex, a spinoff of XBMC, and many other video playing apps. XMBC is not on Amazon, or Google Play, because it was never officially submitted, which is why it has to be side-loaded. It has nothing to do with them trying to prevent competition. If it were, they wouldn’t already have all those other video players. It really is just about breaking the Amazon experience, although I don’t agree with their logic because in reality allowing side-loaded apps to appear on the homescreen is what keeps the experience consistent.

          • robert says:

            Correction:
            It looks like Kodi was recently submitted and accepted to Amazon. It is just not listed as compatible with the Fire TV line yet. But this only further proves my point.

    • AFTVnews says:

      I fully expected my apps to be rejected. I created them as a means to learn Android development and figured I might as well submit them on the off chance they get approved.

      I do not intend for this post to point fingers at Amazon for doing something “bad”. That’s why I started it by explaining that Amazon has good reason to want to control the experience.

      I know this post will likely rile up people, but I mainly just wanted to let potential app developers know that Amazon has an agenda and has rejected apps that don’t fall in line with their agenda.

    • Othi says:

      Your whole arguments falls apart by the availabilty and constant heavy advertising of the Plex app. It’s the exact same thing. It’s my de facto launcher since I never have to exit it and its the sole use case for my Fire TV.

  4. hdmkv says:

    Amazon just doesn’t want us to use Kodi due to fear of people using it exclusively for non-Amazon media playback and pirated content sources. Just look at eBay littered with FTV’s with Kodi and piracy apps pre-loaded. Fair or not, XBMC/Kodi are likely regarded as apps to get pirated content.

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Kodi foundation officially submits its app to Amazon store. I recall reading it somewhere in their forums recently.

  5. Rick says:

    Should have submitted more fireplace and rain shower screen saver apps. They would have dropped everything to get those invaluable contributions to the user experience approved right away!

  6. Mike says:

    I wonder … if Amazon opened up their Prime Video service to more devices / APIs, and if Kodi allowed Prime as an add-on, if it would make any difference. I totally get amazon’s perspective on this, but would their stance change if you COULD view amazon content from within the Kodi media center? Obviously any answer to this is pure speculation, but an interesting question, I think.

  7. xrecar says:

    Buy Kodi on the amazon store (free/supposedly incompatible). Shows up on your recent list now without any trickery if sideloaded.

    • Josh says:

      Sweet, good to know, thanks. (No more need for Llama and adbFire to link it to ikono or ClassicTV!)

      This also explains why sideloaded HBO GO appears in the Recent section of my FIreTV Stick, after I installed the official version on my non-stick FireTV in the other room. (They don’t have the official version for the FireTV Stick yet.)

    • Josh says:

      Sweet, good to know, thanks. (I had been using Llama and adbFire to link it to ikono or ClassicTV.)

      This would also explains why sideloaded HBO GO appears in the Recent section of my FIreTV Stick, after I installed the official version on my non-stick FireTV in the other room. (They don’t have the official version for the FireTV Stick yet.)

      I just tried this with Kodi though, and it’s NOT working. I bought Kodi on the Amazon Store, but the sideloaded Kodi isn’t showing up under my Recent list. What else should I be doing?

      • Anthony says:

        Did you go to your account on the FireTV and sync content?

        Worked perfectly on FTV and stick for me.

        Make sure you go to apps and install it first.

      • xrecar says:

        Showed up for me on two aftvs. No unregister trick or anything. Just appeared.

  8. Josh says:

    Thanks guys! Restarting the unit didn’t fix it for me, but “Syncing Content” did. Much better. Sweet!

  9. boudy says:

    Buy from UK works to….kodi now in my recent after a sync and works perfect. Good spot!!!!!!!

  10. Lucas Coelho says:

    Have you tried the following proced? It is working for me.
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/fire-tv/themes-apps/app-aftv-launcher-helper-t3020515

  11. Ujn Hunter says:

    What if you snuck it into a silly Fireplace App that required you to press: “Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start” to launch it? At least to get it approved and downloaded before Amazon caught on to your trickery? ;)

  12. Itzme says:

    Some questions… So I have the Plex app working on the Fire Stick. It requires the Plex Media Server, which runs on my PC. Does Kodi require something similar to the PMS? Can I run both? I’m also curious if Kodi plays Dolby 5.1 or DTS? That’d be my only reason to switch.

  13. Dean says:

    Hi, This might be a daft question so apologies in advanced. Once you ‘buy’ kodi on the amazon app store, do you have to do anything else other than sync content in the setting on the AFTV? I ask as it doesn’t show on mine, presumably because it is officially not compatible.
    Thanks

    • boudy says:

      u got kodi sideloaded already ?….your not installing kodi just the buying a free icon to appear in recent after a sync. Kodi not xbmc needs to be there already.

  14. Jose says:

    Is there any way to bring back the Kodi icon once removed from recent? I wanted to try and see If I could? Content refresh didn’t help this time. What’s can I do?

  15. agk4444 says:

    Looks like both FiredTV Launcher and AGK Launcher will also show up in recent, if you add them to you amazon app store account and Side load those apps in to your Fire TV.

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