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 18.104.22.168 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 22.214.171.124 with build value PS6287/3768. There is also a Fire OS 5 update labeled as version 126.96.36.199 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.