FiredTV Launcher is a Homescreen Replacement for Fire TV

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Homescreen replacement apps (i.e., launchers) are very common in the Android world. They allow you to change one of the fundamental aspects of an Android device by replacing what your device displays when you hit the home button. FiredTV Launcher is the first homescreen replacement app for the Fire TV. It’s purpose is to get you quicker access to your sideloaded apps. 

FiredTV Launcher gives you instant access to all the apps on your Fire TV. Whether an app was installed from the official Amazon Appstore or sideloaded, this homescreen replacement lists all your apps in a simple 5 column grid.

Due to the restrictions put into place by Amazon, FiredTV Launcher isn’t a full fledged home replacement for the Fire TV. Traditionally, Android will identify an app as a launcher and ask if you’d like to use it as your default home launcher. FiredTV Launcher can’t set itself as the default launcher, so it has to fake it. Once downloaded and sideloaded onto your Fire TV, the app detects the loading of the Fire TV’s homescreen and immediately launches itself. This method is a bit of a hack, but is currently the only way for an app to launch when you press the home button on your remote. When it works, you’ll see the default homescreen flash for a second followed by FiredTV Launcher appearing.

firedtv-app-screen

Launching the app is a bit unpredictable, leaving you unsure of when the app will launch itself. After installing the app, we pressed the home button and the app did not load. After loading it manually, the app started loading itself after pressing the home button. The launcher thankfully includes a “Fire TV” button among the list of apps you have installed which takes you back to the Fire TV’s stock homescreen. Once we were back to the default homescreen, the only way I could get FiredTV to load again was to load it manually. The launcher seems to work best when you stay away from the stock homescreen. If you’re just loading apps and then pressing the home button, the launcher works well.

I personally would much rather have a quick way to launch the app manually instead of the app trying to predict when it should launch. I’m unsure if it’s even possible, but launching the app with a remote long press or pressing home while already on the stock homescreen would be ideal.

The app is in it’s infancy and has it’s share of quirks. For one, selecting the “Settings” icon within FiredTV causes it to crash. I’m not sure if this is meant to load the Fire TV’s default settings screen or a settings panel for the FiredTV launcher itself. That said, I love that this app exists. It’s a bold attempt by its developer to expand the Fire TV’s functionality and we commend that and will be following this apps progression closely.

 

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8 comments
  1. Redth says:

    Hey, thanks for the write up!

    I’m the author of FiredTVLauncher, and wanted to comment on a couple things.

    First, unfortunately there’s no way for me (that I’m aware of) to detect a home key press, let alone long press, so the way I actually detect the home button is to check the top most activity running and see if it matches Amazon’s stock launcher. If it does, I launcher FiredTV instead. Of course, when you choose FireTV from the menu, I disable the ‘check’ for home, since that would defeat the purpose of you choosing that menu option, so after you do choose to go back home to the stock Launcher, you must manually launch FiredTV again. There’s no way around this, unfortunately.

    I’m going to try and see if Amazon will accept this as a submission to the store. If they do, you’ll be able to launch it right from the stock launcher. I have a feeling they will reject this app though… We’ll see.

    Anyway, you’re right, this app is very new, and much improving will be done. Enjoy!

    • Jcee says:

      Im trying to make my AFT treat XBMC as the default OS. (and only open the AFT homescreen on some rare occasions.

      as such, I would love it if your app could automatically launch a target app (IE another launcher, or in my case XBMC)

      Im sure you are aware how this has potential to lock up the users AFT if they choose an app that doesn’t have a way of getting to the settings, to disable your app. which is why I also propose that you disable ‘run on start’ when this setting is chosen. (this way the user can restart the AFT to get back to the default menus)

      and advanced users who know what they are doing (IE using it with a launcher/XBMC) can install: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=imoblife.startupmanager and tell it to start your app on startup.

    • Graham Vaughan says:

      I think the Fired TV app is great. I understand that are a couple of things, but I think it works great! Doesn’t always open up into the Fired TV front page, but not a hardship. If you do ever solve it or get it on Amazon, excellent! But if not, well done on what it does anyway!!

  2. Marulu says:

    Hello, love your launcher. The only gripe is that settings do not always stick, and everything needs to be reconfigured again. The idea is great please keep improving!! I will donate if that helps the quirks go away.

    Regards,
    Marulu

  3. Jcee says:

    Im trying to make my AFT treat XBMC as the default OS. (and only open the AFT homescreen on some rare occasions.

    as such, I would love it if your app could automatically launch a target app (IE another launcher, or in my case XBMC)

    Im sure you are aware how this has potential to lock up the users AFT if they choose an app that doesn’t have a way of getting to the settings, to disable your app. which is why I also propose that you disable ‘run on start’ when this setting is chosen. (this way the user can restart the AFT to get back to the default menus)

    and advanced users who know what they are doing (IE using it with a launcher/XBMC) can install: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=imoblife.startupmanager and tell it to start your app on startup.

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