Amazon blocks custom Home Launchers with latest Fire TV software update

It was inevitable, but a new software update that is currently rolling out to Fire TV devices appears to break the ability to circumvent Amazon’s own Fire TV interface and use custom launcher home screens, as reported by Finnzz on Reddit and XDA. Amazon has a long history of quickly patching workarounds that allow Fire TV owners from using anything but Amazon’s own home screen interface on Fire TVs, but, for over a year now, it has been possible to do just that through a Launcher Manager that first appeared in late 2020. That seems to now be coming to an end as the workaround used by the launcher utility no longer works in the latest software updates for the Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Stick 4K Max, and other Fire TV models.

Fire OS 7 software update version 7.2.7.3 with build value PS7273/2622, which prevents custom launcher use, is currently rolling out to the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick 4K Max, 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick, and Fire TV Stick Lite. The Fire OS 6 update that blocks customer launchers, which is rolling out to the Fire TV Stick 4K, 1st-gen Fire TV Cube, and 3rd-gen Fire TV (Pendant), is version 6.2.8.7 with build value PS6287/3768. There is also a Fire OS 5 update labeled as version 5.2.8.7 that is rolling out to the 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick, 1st-gen Fire TV Stick, and 2nd-gen Fire TV that may or may not also contain changes that thwart custom launchers.




If you’re currently using a custom launcher on your Fire TV and want to continue doing so, you can try to block software updates, but that has long been difficult to do effectively and safely. There are some relatively new ways to block updates by using 3rd-party custom VPN or DNS settings, but I haven’t covered them because I don’t feel comfortable recommending that people put a middle-man that you know nothing about between all of your Fire TV’s internet traffic, so proceed with caution if you seek out those methods on your own.

I’ve received many messages from people over the last year asking me to write a guide for installing a custom launcher on their Fire TV, since a method has existed for a surprisingly long while. I’ve avoided doing so because I knew it was only a matter of time before Amazon patched the workaround allowing them to work. It took an unusually long amount of time for Amazon to catch on this time, but, sure enough, they have now. The other reason for not covering custom launchers myself this time around is I knew that me writing a guide for this latest method was a sure-fire way to get Amazon’s attention on the method and get it patched up quickly.

As many people already know, Amazon sells Fire TVs and other devices for little to no profit because it expects to make a profit while people use the device, either through direct purchases on the device, advertisements, or several other methods. This is why Amazon must keep its home screen in use because that home screen is the avenue for nearly all of its Fire TV profit. Since that won’t be changing anytime soon, you can expect that Amazon will always eventually block all methods to circumvent its Fire TV home screen.

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74 comments
  1. Maaamark says:

    The ability to use a custom launcher is not as much to circumvent all the ads and suggestions, but more about the performance of the device. What were they thinking when they decided to add the current interface to a slow old device like the 2nd gen fire tv stick and make it even slower. People will just pay a few extra bucks and switch to a google tv or even a Walmart android tv device and use whatever launcher they want.

    • GG says:

      Or buy a new generation firestick. That is the plan anyway. It keeps the money coming in. If people wanted google or walmart they would have got that to begin with. Nobody should really be using the Gen 2 anyway, they deserve what they get on that one. The ads or suggestions do NOT slow down the gen 2 any more than any other one, the newer OS’s with all their extra feature do. An ad is just another thumbnail to display, no processing needed.

      • Michael Nix says:

        What??? Some level of processing has to take place to shift them from one ad or banner to the next. It’s built-in mini screensavers. LOL

        • GG says:

          That mini screen saver you describe only runs while you are looking at it and does not slow the whole device down at all times. How would you come to that conclusion? Put it this way, if the Amazon “bloat” was slowing the whole device down at all times which is the issue here, they would have major complaints on their hands. Not liking the ads and clutter is one thing but it affecting the performance of the device (It doesn’t) is another.

          • Amazon blows says:

            Complete nonsense. Firestick users have complained for years over sluggish and bad performance over time. Amazon is constantly tampering and bombarding the device. A factory reset is required once a year at least to refresh the device. Its also idiotic to cop out and believe ads are okay. They’re not. And that’s why people like myself will continue to block the trash.

          • Stop Shilling GG says:

            They DO have major complaints, and my devices run infinitely smoother after blocking ads. You have to view the mini screen with the ads anytime you launch the FireStick or go to home, which is required to use any app besides the ones with buttons. Brother do you even own one of these?

    • Pawdog says:

      The speed is not even the real problem for me. I run a launcher on the Max also. Amazon has just made a circus out of the home screen. It’s like everything they can think of jammed into a small space with no ability to better organize it. It’s unfortunate that they will be blocking Launcher Manager, for however long it lasts. I’ll be using my ONN UHD even more now.

      • MixerFistit says:

        I’d assumed the majority that fiddle with launchers etc tend to be savvy enough to use certain ‘unofficial’ iptv and its on demand content.

        Probably spend 5 seconds on the home screen anyway

  2. Adam says:

    The home screen is a cluttered mess, but in my house we barely pay much attention to it. Although, my kids will sometimes go down a rabbit hole, but since I’ve FINALLY been able to shut down their buying I really don’t care. I don’t use a custom launcher because I’m tech support for the family and some extended family and I didn’t want to get them used to something that I also thought would eventually change or go away.

    As long as I can keep side-loading apps like TiviMate, I’m good.

    • Jokersmurf573 says:

      I like ur attitude. Well said mate

    • Karen Traynham says:

      Sorry.. I’m an old boomer what is sideloading? How you do that and why?.. I use to use the filelinked thingy and could add some different channels but I don’t think that works anymore cuz I cant get the programs to play now. I’m lost.. any help will be appreciated

      • JFC says:

        Sideloading on a Fire TV device means the following:

        Installing Android compatible apps from sources other than the pre-installed Amazon App Store. There are several ways to do that, but the most common is to first install an app called Downloader from the Amazon app store.

        The Downloader app includes a functional web browser that’s capable of viewing websites on your Fire TV device using only the FTV remote control, and then downloading and installing Android compatible non-Amazon apps (.apk files) onto your Fire TV device.

        Once you have Downloader working, you can either install the Android apps for, or simply download apps from a variety of 3rd party Android app sources, including sites like APKPure, Aptoide, APKMirror and others.

        The one caveat is because they are general Android compatible apps, some may work fine with your Fire TV remote control, but others won’t and you’d need to use either a hardware USB or Bluetooth mouse or mouse app in order to use them on a Fire TV. The easiest solution to that is just use a Bluetooth mouse when needed.

  3. karim says:

    did you know if it’s possible to turn off HDR on the cube after this update the same way we can do on Fire tv stick 4K max?

    • Tony says:

      You can turn the HDR Off on the cube under display settings and it won’t be any different after the update!!!

      • karim says:

        at the current firmware 7.2.4.2 no you can’t turn off HDR , the only option is Always HDR or Adaptive which still work no matter what you do on HDR content.
        On the fire tv 4k MAX they added a third option which is OFF.
        So now that the new firmware is out i was wondering if the cube got this option or no.

      • karim says:

        which firmware version you have with HDR OFF option on the cube?

  4. David Matejka says:

    Ok, I get it. Amazon wants us to use their launcher rather than a custom launcher. So they can shove more advertising at us. Okay, then why not fix the original problem that sent many of us over to the custom launcher to begin with: fix the damn app squares so if someone loads a 3rd party app , they don’t have to have a s*it looking black square with a line through it!

  5. Russ says:

    I’ve moved into the ‘I don’t stare at the home screen’ camp. My biggest complaint with the interface is those profiles, especially when using voice commands. I really wish you could set up a default profile on a ftv stick for tv’s that aren’t used for movies, etc., like the one in the kitchen and bathroom. I hate repeating the ‘watch … on fire tv’ twice every time I want to watch something.

  6. JFC says:

    Amazon, I believe, had recently blocked the ability of a common app package used to block Amazon updates on their 4K stick devices. But they were slower in rolling out that same change to the later OS Fire Stick 4K Max devices.

    So, while I think I’m too late for my 4K Stick, I believe I’ve been able to protect my 4K Max and its custom launcher.

    If Amazon does end up forcing an update that forces me to use their native launcher, the 4K Stick will go in a drawer and its companion Android TV device, with the same customer launcher, will start getting a whole lot more use.

  7. Kir says:

    But the fact that Amazon CUT 90% of LANGUAGES
    from Android to Fire OS is also chtoli for their profit ???

    this is a blatant crime of Amazon, requiring an
    international investigation and an Amazon trial !!!
    ____

    [ translated from Russian by Google translator ]
    .

  8. Kir says:

    p.s.

    I also used WOLF because I could control the MOUSE !
    I don’t like remotes at all, I always use a mouse.

    Mouse doesn’t work in amazon launcher !
    and for example in Nvidia Shield the mouse works
    .

  9. Michael Nix says:

    Well, well well. If youtubers weren’t reviewing the crap out of things and being more original instead of copying every other Tom, Dick, and Harry with the same topic, it might not be as bad. A couple YouTubers? Maybe not much notice. But 15 or 20 YouTubers? Yeah. Amazon’s gonna notice. Go blast the YouTubers. Every update and software block starts with them.

  10. RG Geiger says:

    Said it once and I’ll say it again… Amazon I will pay a subscription fee if I can replace the large ads in the upper part of the screen with a space for multiple widgets. I can live with banner ads but I used the Wolf launcher for the widgets. Best of both worlds.

  11. Jim says:

    How does this affect ATV
    or Leanback launcher?

  12. Paul T says:

    FireOS doesn’t use a hypervisor and Amazon allows users to sideload apps so eventually it’ll be jailbroken and third-party launchers will work again. This is a losing battle for Amazon.

    And honestly, why bother starting the arms race back up? Anyone with the technical knowledge to change their launcher isn’t going to take this sitting down. So why fight with those people?

    The endgame here *is* to build a hypervisor to block unsigned code like game consoles, which would be a ton of work for Amazon, would eventually get jailbroken anyway, and just piss everybody off. And what’s to gain? Nothing.

    Now if FireTVs were being widely resold with alternative launchers (and probably piracy/IPtv apps) to such an extent that it impacted FireTV’s bottom line, that would be a different matter, but I can’t imagine that’s the case.

    • gary says:

      I bought a stick for streaming basically everything on the quick buttons on the remote. If my sole purpose was for something other than those streaming services, there are much better options out there.

      Agreed there’s nothing to gain by continuing this ‘arms race’

  13. Tanker says:

    I use the Debloat Tool app, which among other things, blocks Amazon updates. I’m using the Wolf launcher. So far, so good.

  14. TechyChris says:

    Saw this coming. I stopped using custom launchers a few years back after the last purge and excepted the inevitable. Plus is just easier for the rest of the family not having to deal with maintaining non-stock programs.

  15. Rodney Walker says:

    Your making so much money off the firesticks and fire boxes. Why worry about what people do it after they spend their money on it. I just believe it’s real petty and this is why I use android boxes from China. After you spend your hard earned money. They want to tell you what and what you can’t do with something you purchased.

  16. SteveM says:

    Been looking at custom launchers for a family member with severe learning difficulties. He only watches football and doesn’t subscribe to or have any interest in mainstream TV or streaming. Just switching the TV the the right AV channel is a struggle, trying to simplify the interface to open up his favourite sports app… Amazon certainly only focused on revenue. Very sad.

    • Rik Emmett says:

      You can pin apps to the main navigation bar with the new interface. Just a few clicks to the right and then click the desired app.

      • SteveM says:

        Cheers for the info Rik. It’d be nice to have the main sport app he uses open up immediately… and to lock the whole interface down once I’ve set it up. For any normal person lots of things to click on is nice, but to someone who has used a TV normally all their life to learn new interfaces is very daunting no matter how simple. Pretty unique problem but the tech companies just on off down their own road… sad thing is he’s just unlikely to pay for something he can’t use so it’s their loss really.

  17. Lulu Konduri says:

    Because I’m a dope and don’t understand things most of the times. Ever since the last update on my Amazon TV on Sunday. It keeps kicking me out of things like you tube and Pluto tv or any other app I’m trying to watch. I even tried using the inputs to try and watch shows using my cable box or laptop. And it freezes and goes back to the main screen. Would this have something to do with it ? I just bought my TV in May of last year. So it’s not even a year old. And the issues started as soon as it updated on Sunday.

  18. Bjorn Billing says:

    Why the concern? The solution is simple and inexpensive: Walmart’s ‘onn UHD’ streamer (Android TV), MUCH better and only $19.88.

  19. Renee says:

    I have been very disappointed with Amazon, ever since I purchased an Amazon Prime video account and tried to get it to upload to my first generation FireTVStick, which, for a senior, on a fixed income was somewhat pricy. I’d been using the FireTVStick to stream Netflix, YouTube, Crackle, and many other streating sites. I called Amazon Tech support, to get help to initiate my Amazon Prime Video account. What ended up happening, is the tech made an error, then did a hard reset on my FireStick. This stick is no longer being sold, but still worked great, until the hard reset, which wiped everything. Since the stick is obsolete, it could not be reprogrammed to do anything. Basically it was trashed. I was then told I would have to buy a new one. I was upset, but nicely saI’d, that was not in my budget at the present time, and since it was good for streaming dozens of sites before the tech did the reset, I thought Amazon should replace it at their expense. A Beirut pause, and I was offered a 15% discount. I, again responded that, that was not acceptable and could be an attempt at exploitation of the elderly. After a brief pause, I was told that Amazon would give me new FireTVStick, at their expense, one time. I have an e-mail stating that the FireTVStick would be free, with a link to register it. The catch, I had to pay first. Once I registered it, my money would be refunded. I stated I would put it on my Amazon account. I gother the FireTVStick, registered it, and waited for my refund, which never came. Amazon uses Synchrony Bank for their credit card. They constantly hound me to pay, and no one I explained to the bank rep. and repeatedly contacted Amazon. I finally got a way to copy the e-mail, and am going to send both Synchrony Bank and Amazon a, “snail mail” letter with a copy of the e-mail enclosed. So, Amason seems to be out for the almighty dollar, and seems not to do business with companies that are customer oriented. With all of the outsourcing to somewhere in S.E. Asia, the customer support no longer exists. I am, also, in the
    process of closing out a 35+ year relationship with my bank because of the lack of customer service, and multiple screw-ups due to outsourcing. It seems these large conglomerate businesses no longer have any interest in customer care. No longer is, ” the customer always right”!

  20. Pete R. says:

    Will Fire tablets be getting the same blocking?

  21. Brian says:

    Has this update also affected your button remapper apps? Ever since my Fire Stick 4K Max got the update the remaps don’t work. I’ve tried resetting them and they still don’t work. If I go under applications and launch the individual remapper apps the app I have remapped them to launches, but pressing the actual buttons on the remote does nothing.

  22. Throat Warbler Mangrove says:

    I stopped using my FTV Cube v2 for all but live TV via a Recast.
    I removed all the apps too.
    To use apps, I use an Apple TV. Which has them all, including Prime.
    I intended to move entirely away from Amazon but, there is no good DVR out there. Yes, yes, I know, you are saying “But what about (insert DVR or software here)?!” Well, I tried a bunch (them all actually) and, for basic, all around use, with fewer problems and lowest cost in total (no subscription needed!), Recast is it. You just have to endure the terrible UI in the FTV interface. It is not even about the ads. Apple does ads too, albeit, in a more subtle way. It is the FTV user interface being total rubbish with too many levels and, as a UI designer since the late 1980s, I can confidently say, badly designed UI and UX. For no reason! The Amazon FTV development team is just terrible.
    Apple is it. I wish Apple made a 3-4 tuner OTA DVR. I’d change in a second, even if it costs $400!

    • JFC says:

      I never have, and probably never will, use any Apple product. But I do agree with you about one thing, the current Fire TV home screen layout and operation is RUBBISH… ever since Amazon some time back adopted the current design and layout format.

      I never had any problem with the old/former FTV home screen. I had my large row of Favorites and a similar row of Recents up at the top that both were customizable. And that’s all I never looked at or cared about. Didn’t look at the home screen promo above, didn’t look at the piles of rowed recommended / promotional / etc. content underneath. I was happy, and never felt the need to get into 3rd party launchers. The device just worked easily as it was.

      Then came the new/current UI, and everything went to hell. Suddenly simple navigation became slow and balky on my home screen whereas it had been snappy before. My row of Favorites got shrunk down and minimized. My row of Recents got pushed further down on the page out of easy sight. My installed third party apps started showing up as blank black square icons devoid of any info. It was, and is, HORRIBLE!

      I basically got to the point where I stopped using any of my Fire TV devices because they were such a pain and headache, opting for Android TV devices instead. And then I discovered alternate launchers for FTVs, and suddenly realized I could, and was able to, get rid of all the balky junk and return my FTV to the favorite, easy to use and customizable device I had loved before.

      If I couldn’t use my alternate launcher on my Fire TVs, they’d go in the drawer, or trash bin, for sure.

      • Throat Warbler Mangrove says:

        That’s nice.
        BTW: Nobody cares about your determination to hate Apple. Especially Apple users.

        • JFC says:

          Don’t HATE it/them. Just have no desire to ever enter that ecosystem, not when I prefer Amazon and Android instead. This is a website for Amazon and Fire TVs, after all, not Apple.

  23. Dave says:

    I don’t need the clutter. The AppleTV is on deck and the FireTV and the spare are headed to a landfill.

  24. ShaVerZ says:

    … and the latest update screws up pinned apps and customisations, all be it temporary. Getting a £5 Prime Video Voucher for each of my devices is crap and still waiting for them anyway.

    Dear Customer,

    In the next few days, your Fire TV navigation bar will no longer reflect previously made customization settings and apps you have pinned. We apologize for this inconvenience and have credited your Amazon account with a £5 credit for Prime Video which you can use immediately for rentals or purchases. Instructions for re-customizing the ordering of your apps are available here:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=GEE43R7R6NPT4MRA

    We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by this.

    Sincerely,

    Customer Service Department
    Amazon.co.uk
    http://www.amazon.co.uk

  25. Joanie S. says:

    I’m an older baby boomer and have no idea what this all means. I have a Amazon fire stick 4K and a 9-year-old regular flat screen TV. Would someone please explain to me in simple terms because I am definitely non-tech what all this means. I stream Netflix, Aprime, Peacock, and Pluto.

  26. Joanne says:

    Noticed when you use adblink from computer to firestick it will no longer connect even tho its right ip addy

  27. Don Bentley says:

    USE an app called NO ROOT Firewall .

    It will start up automatically on every boot .

    The theory is to add blocking rules to the app so most of the
    Amazon services are blocked .

    This will block Amazon updates .

    Good luck blocking this one Amazon !

    • Red says:

      Any guide out there on setting the app / blocking rules up on a fire stick?

      I did search but didn’t see one, just troypoint but he doesn’t use this app.

  28. Me Myself & You says:

    Just installed one on a new Firestick 4k. No problems.

  29. Mike Butler says:

    Well it’s 10th April now and I’m still able to use Wolf Launcher on my Firestick 4k max. Fake news?

    • David Matejka says:

      You know, if you try to switch between launchers e.g custom to Amazon launcher, you may find out that you can’t get back to the wolf custom launcher. Ymmv

  30. yearight says:

    …and the 3 fire sticks in our house hit the trash tomorrow, as soon as i can go pick up the Android TV boxes at the post office that I ordered online. They’ve already arrived. Goodbye Amazon garbage bloat. I can’t even give the fire sticks away – nobody I know will accept them.

  31. gary says:

    I bought a firestick to use with Amazon Prime.The app itself uses 1/3 of the TV screen for ads, and then you get an ad before every show, but then to use 85% of the real estate on a TV for ads on the home page is ridiculous.

    Today they are blocking the launcher, tomorrow it will be you favourite streaming app.

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