2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K Max does not have an Apps shortcut button like every other Fire TV

There are very few software differences between the new 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K Max and other Fire TV models, which is a good thing, but one unfortunate change is the removal of the “Apps” button on the device’s quick launch screen, which you access by holding the Home button for a few seconds. Amazon has chosen to replace the Apps button with an “Ambient Experience” button on this one device, which launches the Echo Show-like screensaver feature that is unique to the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max. In doing so, Amazon has removed one of the most convenient ways to access all your apps.

Quick Launch Screen on the 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K Max

I expect that only a small number of Fire TV owners even know about the quick launch screen since there’s no way to even know that holding the home button for a few seconds will bring it up unless someone tells you about it. That said, it’s quite handy once you know it exists because it’s one of the very few Fire TV interfaces that can be accessed from anywhere. That’s what makes the removal of the Apps button in the quick launch screen so unfortunate.

Many Fire TV enthusiasts know that the quickest way to jump from one app to another is to go through the Apps button on the quick launch screen, which immediately loads all of your installed apps in a fullscreen grid. This keeps you from needing to first load the Fire TV home screen and scroll over to your apps. Since the quick launch screen can be viewed on top of any open app, it has always provided the fastest access to your list of apps.

Personally, I would have easily chosen any of the other quick launch buttons to lose before removing the Apps button as it’s easily the one I use the most. While the Ambient Experience is nice, and I’ll have a detailed overview of everything it can do posted soon, I don’t see myself ever launching it manually since the point of it is to be a source of ambient background information when you’re not using your Fire TV.

To add insult to injury, it’s possible to disable the Ambient Experience feature altogether, yet the button to launch it remains on the quick launch screen if you do so. At the very least Amazon should have swapped it back for the Apps button if someone disabled the Ambient Experience. With Ambient Experience set to off, the Fire TV just goes to sleep right away when left idle. Selecting the Ambient Experience button on the quick launch screen while the feature is set to Off just puts the Fire TV to sleep, so the button becomes redundant with the Sleep button to its right.

Apps Shortcut Loader app in the Fire TV’s “Recent” screen

If you have or will purchase a 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick 4K Max and find yourself missing the Apps shortcut, like myself, you have two alternatives. First, you can say “Go to Apps” into the remote’s mic to bring up the app grid. This works in almost any app, as long as Alexa doesn’t mistakenly interpret the request as a search. Alternatively, you can install my Apps Shortcut Loader. If you’ve launched it recently, you can quickly get to it by pressing the Recent button on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max’s remote. Like the quick launch screen, the Recent screen can be brought up while in any app. If you have the Apps Shortcut Loader installed, it gives you a way to get to your app grid without first going to the Fire TV home screen.

Hopefully, at the very least, Amazon will update the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max so that the Apps button is restored on the quick launch screen if the Ambient Experience is turned off. That way Fire TV users can at least have the choice of which feature is more important to them. Ideally, the quick launch screen would be made customizable so users can pick which buttons appear, but, given how little in the Fire TV interface is currently customizable, I doubt that will ever happen.

16 comments
  1. Joe says:

    More ways Amazon is keeping people from getting to their apps. This is a stupid change.

  2. clocks says:

    TBH, while this change is dumb, it is not too impactful for me. 99% of the time the app I want to use is on the home screen of the GUI anyway. I only really use 3-4 apps a majority of the time.

  3. Paul says:

    There is an app and recent buttons on the remote for the 4k Max 2nd generation.

    • John Holmes says:

      Sorry to interrupt but looking for a bit of guidance.
      Having a low level tech
      understanding I understood the newest firestick to have 4K Ultra which I don’t think the previous model does.
      Any guidance please?

    • Sadly, the Apps button is only in Canada, which is where I’m guessing you’re from, and a few other regions. In the US, the two bottom buttons are DIRECTV and Peacock. It seems that if Amazon can’t sell the button placement to a streaming service in a specific country, they put an Apps button there instead, so consider yourself lucky!

      • DeeJay says:

        If you get the voice remote pro sometimes one of the bottom buttons would be an apps button or a streaming service my first voice remote pro only had streaming services for the 4 bottom buttons but it died and amazon sent me a replacement that only had 3 streaming apps and one apps button but either way you also have the 1 and 2 button that you can program to do anything you want. The voice remote pro is well worth the money and upgrade I think it should be shipped with the 4k max and cube by default tho you buy a premium device you should get a premium remote.

  4. Ron says:

    I noticed this yesterday on mine but also noticed there is now an apps shortcut button on the remote which to me is much quicker than accessing the one mentioned from the screen in this article

  5. Eric says:

    They definitely did this to make you go to the Home Screen to get to your apps so they can make money from all the advertising.

  6. Keith says:

    I think im done with Amazon.
    Too bad because ive always had one going all the way back to the initial release (usually 3 or 4 in my house)
    But these little things add up. And when you add them to the not so little things like not expanding the storage a single GB in it’s entire history… it’s time to move on

  7. dean says:

    well the remote control now has a button for apps so it doesnt matter that the ui has removed it!

    • clocks says:

      Am I the only one that feels the latest FTV remotes are getting too cluttered? I used to be able to use them without looking, but now they have so many buttons I can no longer do that. If they are going to have so much stuff on there, the should at least make backlighting standard.

    • Tick says:

      Only in Canada. No other country hat that button (instead other streaming service buttons)

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