Amazon blacklists Launcher Manager app for taking control of Fire TV remote buttons

It was inevitable, but it looks like Amazon has already blacklisted the Fire TV app, Launcher Manager. The sideload-only app, which was updated earlier this month with the ability to remap the Home and App Shortcut buttons on Fire TV remotes, can no longer be opened on Fire TV devices. Selecting the app displays the message seen above about the app needing to be updated.

If Launcher Manager was installed on a Fire TV device, the app no longer appears in the main grid of apps or in the “Manage Installed Applications” list under the Fire TV settings menu. The only place the app appears anymore in Amazon’s Fire TV interface is under the list of Recently used apps, where it is now listed with a broken app icon. Trying to launch it from the Recently used apps list or any other method, such as a 3rd-party launcher or app list, either results in the update message being shown or nothing happening at all.

The only times I’m aware of Amazon using its ability to blacklist apps is when an app tries to hijack either the Fire TV remote’s home button or the home screen. Those are the two elements of the Fire TV that Amazon seems to require complete control over with no exceptions. Any time in the past when an app or method was released to take control of either of those two elements, Amazon inevitably blacklisted the app, blocked the method used to hijack the element, or both.

The recent update to Launcher Manager received a lot of attention from the Fire TV modding community, particularly from YouTubers demonstrating how to use the app to bypass Amazon’s Fire TV home screen interface. In just a few days, YouTube videos demonstrating the app have already raked in hundreds of thousands of views across multiple channels. The method used by Launcher Manager to detect Fire TV remote button presses, which is to monitor the device log file for certain entries made by Amazon that indicate the button was pressed, is not particularly new. Past Fire TV apps, like FireStarter, used the same method for detecting home button presses. Those apps were blacklisted by Amazon so it’s no surprise that Lanucher Manager received the same unfortunate treatment.

I suspect that Launcher Manager is being blocked by detecting its package name, which is the unique name that identifies each Android app. It is likely that re-releasing the app using a different package wil circumvent Amazon’s blacklist, but that begins a cat-and-mouse game that would likely be pointless. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon is already working on scrubbing its log file from all indications that the home button is being pressed to prevent this type of hijack from being used again.

  1. mike says:

    stf is wrong with amazon…why would they care if we want to remap our home or other buttons…what a bunch of turds. after being heavily invested in firetv, i am on the fence on boycotting their products all together jsut because of their BS

    • Manabi says:

      They want to force everyone to use their launcher so they can encourage people to buy more videos from them. Not saying I like it (I don’t and don’t have any Fire TV devices), but that’s the likely rationale.

  2. Jim says:

    Same here. I am pretty close to leaving the Amazon ecosystem. NVIDIA shield is due for an update isn’t it? I was hoping to wait until this happens before I leave the Amazon Cube behind.

    • Adam says:

      The chip that Nvidia uses for the Shield is actually one that Nintendo pays them to develop for the Switch. If there ever is another Shield, it won’t be until the next Switch is developed.

    • pawdog says:

      No Shield update is eminent but don’t let that stop you.

  3. Shirley Dulcey says:

    They care because bypassing the launcher also bypasses their ability to track and monetize your activity. That’s a key way that they make money on the Fire devices; they make little or nothing on the initial sale.

    • Bigg says:

      They can still track you. What they really want is to force you to see their home page so they can spam you with ads. What makes this even worse is that their launcher is awful, its taking perfectly good hardware with stock android and adding a bunch of shit that makes it ugly and slow. They are literally downgrading their own products so they can farm every last dime off you. The reason they can do it is because people still buy it. I recommend boycotting their devices until they change, no point giving them more money for products that are getting worse.

      • Pawdog says:

        Yep, I’m on my last Fire TV device, the 4k Max, only because I got in on the disable updates app before it got nuked. If skipping upates ever become a problem using it I’ll just retire it.

    • Whiskey says:

      It’s all about money. Amazon pays those companies (Netflix, etc.) for the ‘branded’ buttons on their remotes. They hate when we remap the buttons because it’s waste.

      IMO, they should simply have a couple of ‘soft’ programmable buttons and stop paying for branded ones.

      • Ujn Hunter says:

        Isn’t it the other way around? Those companies Pay Amazon, no? That’s why it’s an “Issue” for Amazon, those companies will no longer Pay Amazon if those buttons can do “anything”. Those companies want them to Launch Their App.

      • Pawdog says:

        Netflix mandates a Netflix button on the remote as part of the certification so no payments are involved. The other buttons are certainly paid for by those companies so Amazon needs to protect them. Ultimately, they just want more control over the device so they can have accurate numbers to charge advertisers. Can’t really blame them but I choose not to play.

  4. Kevin Burkhead says:

    Sounds like a class action lawsuit to me. We own the device… we should be able to do anything with it we choose. Like Janet Jackson sings.. “Control”. The world is full of control freaks on the corporate level especially.

    • Kevin says:

      Won’t be long and they’ll be a fix… love technology! They might as well give up trying to control our tech geeks… we always have and always will conquer the BS they toss out!

    • Manabi says:

      Sony beat the class-action against them over removing the ability to run Linux on the PS3 and that was a much more major change. There’s no chance of one succeeding against Amazon over this. Laws favor the corporations.

    • Pawdog says:

      We own the device but not the software that runs on it.

      • dave says:

        Neither do they, its open source, they add to it they are required to provide the source code.

        We all own the os software on it.

        • Pawdog says:

          They don’t own Android but they own FireOS that’s running the Fire devices. There is no open source TV OS that I know of.

  5. Lilchina says:

    I found it gone re side loaded so far working for me

  6. Chen says:

    The release a new version of launcher manager that uses the same pkg name as one of Amazon’s official apps.

    Make it harder for Amazon to block the pkg name.

  7. Archin says:

    Omg… I got so lucky!!! I just blocked amazon updates via my router yesterday!

  8. That , guy says:

    Amazon lost billions of dollars on Alexa. They wanted to use it to get us to buy more. This is an obvious tactic to recoup some of them loses. Apps and digital purchases ad a whole is a multi billion dollars industry. At the end of the day it’s smart business. It’s up to you to only make purchases responsibly. I can’t say I blame them for it.

  9. Kir says:

    I used Launcher Manager ONLY to select my LANGUAGE !!! language not available in Fire OS:

    Launcher Manager > Fire TV Settings > Language

    how to set YOUR LANGUAGE now ?

    with the help of Launcher Manager, I installed a third-party keyboard where my language was:

    Launcher Manager > Fire TV Settings > Keyboard

    how now to put YOUR KEYBOARD ?

  10. Beep-Bop-Boop says:

    Bye Amazon Fire whatever! I’m done with you! I promoted to family and friends to use the Amazon Fire devices for the last time. No longer. I will happily pay more for a device THAT WILL BE MINE! There are plenty of other streaming devices out there and once I find one that I can use as I choose, then that’s the one that I will be promoting to everyone going forward.

  11. Ujn Hunter says:

    Is it possible to change the package name yourself? i.e. Anyone can download the .APK then change the name of the package to whatever the heck they want to… i.e. no two people even have the same App therefore it’s no longer a Cat & Mouse Game for Amazon to even be able to chase? Or is this only something the Developer can do during compile?

  12. Ujn Hunter says:

    Also… if the Sideloaded App no longer appears in Manage Installed Apps, how does one delete it? Or is it just stuck on the FireTV taking up Storage Space for ALL ETERNITY?

  13. Sneeze says:

    It also appears the vNext update on Kindle Fires has blocked side loading. You now receive “App not installed” and a separate notification saying “Unauthorized installation detected. Please do not install performance benchmark APKs without permission from

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