Something that I expect most Fire TV owners do not know about is the hidden Developer Tools Menu on all Fire TVs, Fire TV Sticks, and Fire TV Edition televisions. Easily the most useful feature of the hidden menu is the System X-Ray toolbar which provides real-time information about the various Fire TV system components. The new 126.96.36.199 software update that just rolled out to Fire TV 3s contains an updated v4.0 Developer Tools Menu that includes additional information not previously available. The updated System X-Ray feature is also now customizable so that you can set it to only display stats that you’re interested in seeing.
The new 4.0 version of the Developer Tools Menu is only available on the Fire TV 3. Other Fire TV models are still using the previous 3.0 version. Regardless of the model, to launch the Developer Tools Menu, you need to hold down the DOWN and SELECT button on the Fire TV remote for 5 seconds and then press the MENU button. If you’re having trouble getting that to work, you can install this free app that can be used to easily open the hidden menu.
While the name of the Developer Tools Menu suggests it was made to help app developers, your average Fire TV owner can also benefit from the available tools. Specifically, the System X-Ray option is one of the best ways to diagnose issues you may be having with your Fire TV. It can be used to determine which, if any, system resource is causing an app to act up.
The changes with this latest version of the Developer Tools Menu focus on improvements to the System X-Ray feature. In addition to display, CPU, memory, and network information, the new System X-ray toolbar now includes information about the remote being used. The most useful piece of remote information for an average Fire TV owner is probably the battery level indicator, which is displayed as a percentage bar graph.
The other new addition with the System X-Ray bar is the new ability to customize what is displayed and where the bar is positioned on the screen. In the Developer Tools Menu is a new Configuration Panel menu that lets you toggle specific stats on or off. It also lets you select which corner of the screen you want the bar to be displayed. Selecting the Top or Bottom option displays the information in a horizontal layout, like it has been in the past. Selecting the Left or Right option displays the information in a new vertical layout.
The large size of the System X-Ray bar always made it a bit annoying to keep open while diagnosing an issue. Now that you can turn off everything but the information you care about, it’s more tolerable to keep it running long term. You can, for example, just display the CPU or Memory usage to see if spikes in those resources are the reason why an app you’re having issues with is acting up.
At the bottom of the list of configuration options are options that let you toggle information about the video and audio currently being played. You need to also have the “Advanced Options” menu item enabled in the main Developer Tools Menu screen for this information to be displayed. This shows you the codecs being used, the input bitrate, if the decoding is hardware accelerated, and more. This is a handy tool for diagnosing stuttering video.
The updated Developer Tools Menu is only available on the new 3rd generation Fire TV for now. There’s no word on when or if it will be coming to older devices.