The Fire TV Home screen is a fantastic interface if you’re happy living within Amazon’s approved app ecosystem. But if you use many sideloaded apps, or even if you just use Kodi a lot, having quick access to unapproved apps through a replacement launcher is extremely handy. FiredTV was the first homescreen replacement app for the Fire TV, but unless your Fire TV is rooted, using FiredTV is a frustrating experience because it can’t accuratly detect Home button presses and be reliably launched. A new Fire TV and Fire TV Stick launcher replacement has emerged, called FireStarter, which does very acurate detection of the Home button without the need for your device to be rooted. Read on for a full overview of this great new alternative to the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick homescreen.
There is no way, without rooting the device, to change what happens when you press the Home button on a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick remote. It will always launch the default homescreen. FireStarter cleverly monitors the Fire TV’s log output to know when the Home button has been pressed, and then launches itself, or any application you configure it to launch. Using this log monitoring method, FireStarter can even detect if you double-click the Home button. It can’t actually stop the default homescreen from launching, which is why you will see it very briefly flash on the screen when you press the home button, but your configured application/launcher will launch a split second later. It’s not perfect, but it works extremely well and reliably.
To install FireStarter, simply download the latest APK and sideload it as you would any other app. One caveat is that you must keep ADB-Debugging enabled within the Fire TV’s settings in order for FireStarter to work correctly. As long as your Fire TV is on a secure network, there’s no harm in keeping ADB-Debugging on all the time. Once sideloaded, launch FireStarter from the Settings > Applications area and configure its settings.
The first thing you’ll want to do is configure FireStarter’s single and double home button press behavior. By default, FireStarter is set to launch itself whenever you press the home button on your remote.
For either a single press or double press of the home button, you can have FireStarter launch: the default Fire TV homescreen, the Fire TV settings panel, FireStarter, or any installed app. If you’re a heavy user of sideloaded apps and occasionally view Amazon content, you may, for example, want to set a single home button press to launch FireStarter and a double press to launch the default home screen. On the other hand, if you just want quick access to one app, like Kodi, you could set a single home button press to launch the default homescreen, and set a double press to launch Kodi. You would essentially never see the FireStarter interface, which is a perfectly reasonable way of using this app.
The developer of FireStarter, sphinx02, has done a fantastic job with the application and is continuing to improve it. He has made the app open source, which is a great way to give back to the community. Give FireStarter a try, and if you find yourself liking it and using it, do please throw a few bucks into the developer’s donation jar. He really does deserve your support.