Amazon blocks Downloader app on the Echo Show 15 in seemingly meaningless effort to thwart sideloading

Amazon has blocked my Downloader app from being installed on the Fire TV experience of the Echo Show 15, despite it initially being available and marked as a compatible app. The app continues to appear in search results on the Echo Show 15 but is now listed as unavailable. Amazon made this change the day after a method for sideloading apps on the Echo Show 15 was discovered, where my Downloader app was used as the means for transferring an APK file to the device. Blocking Downloader does absolutely nothing to thwart sideloading on the device because it’s Amazon’s own pre-installed file manager on the Echo Show 15 that performs the sideload app installation and there are still many other apps available for the Echo Show 15 that can transfer APKs to the device.

Amazon released the Fire TV experience on the Echo Show 15 without any of the usual methods available for customers and app developers to install apps outside of those available from the Amazon Appstore, which is known as sideloading apps. A few days later, it was discovered that Amazon left what is essentially a backdoor open for sideloading apps because the default file manager on the device has the ability to sideload apps. This file manager is a system app that is installed on the device by Amazon.

Instead of addressing the wide-open backdoor in Amazon’s own app, it seems that someone at Amazon ignorantly chose to block my Downloader app instead of taking the time to actually understand the backdoor. While my app is among the more popular ways to download files onto Fire TV devices, and was the method used in the sideloading discovery video, there are plenty of other apps that are still available on the Echo Show 15 that can download files to the device. The app Wireless File Manager can transfer files from a phone or PC to the Echo Show 15. The apps X-plore File Manager and File Manager for Fire TV can download files from cloud storage services. WIFI FTP Server and Simple HTTP Server PLUS can create local servers on your network to facilitate file downloads. There are even clones of my Downloader app, like Download Manager Pro for Fire TV and
Download Manager for Fire TV, which are still available for the Echo Show 15, although they charge money for the same functionality that my app provided for free.

Those are just a few of the apps still available on the Echo Show 15 that can download APK files to the device which can then still be sideloaded by Amazon’s own pre-installed file manager. Blocking my Downloader app is like Amazon cutting down the tallest tree in an effort to stop campfires when there is a forest of trees all around. Just as a tree can be used for much more than campfires, downloading and managing files on the Echo Show 15 through these various apps has far more use cases than just sideloading.

I asked Amazon PR why my Downloader app was no longer available on the Echo Show 15, despite it still being marked as compatible with the device in my developer console. After two days of silence, I was told Friday evening that they would look into it and I haven’t heard from them since. I understand that Amazon doesn’t want people to sideload apps on the Echo Show 15 for one reason or another, likely due to the economic differences between Echo and Fire TV devices, but blocking file manager and download apps is certainly not the way to go about doing it. There are so many more uses for my Downloader app than simply sideloading apps and I would hate to see this start a trend of Amazon removing all file managers from the Echo Show 15, especially when it’s Amazon’s own pre-installed file app that is the root of all of their problems.

26 comments
  1. MikeFL says:

    I have to admit after years of owning these products, and certainly enjoying and sideloading with Downloader, I am baffled by the mixed signals from Amazon. I wonder at times if they’re even aware of what they’re doing, naive, or plain out being difficult. On the one hand, generous and cooperative about sideloading, they produce an overpriced “pro” remote but custom buttons 1 and 2 won’t take side-loaded apps. Another oversight. Clearly, if you’re confused Elias, where dos that leave all of us?

    • DazZ Hankey says:

      Personally I still don’t get why people are so worried about “The Wrath of Amazon’s piece of crap”/ aka TV etc ,,,
      Simple ,faster , 100% Upgradeable , it’s called “Build ya own Open Source box”

  2. Scott says:

    I’ve always assumed the Echo Show was a “bridge” device between two separate developement camps at Amazon: the Fire camp, and the Alexa camp. The Alexa camp has always been rabid about preventing any backdoor / developer access to its ecosystem; see the years-old requests to have an Echo device programmatically speak (“Hi Scott, welcome home” via push request from your smarthome hub). So perhaps this blocking of your app was driven by that mindset, and perhaps the Alexa folks are the ones calling the shots on the Echo Show rather than the Fire folks.

    Which would be surprising, too, as there’s every indication that Amazon is about finished with the whole Alexa experiment.

    Scott

  3. Joe says:

    Of course a few days before needing the app Amazon goes and makes my life difficult. I wanted to use downloader to move my time lapse videos onto the echo show and now I have to jump through a bunch of hoops. One step forward and two steps back. I didn’t give half a lick about side loading anything but now I need to learn how to do it to put back the app they took away.

  4. thrashman says:

    Where can we get the downloader APK if we want to sideload it onto echo show 15?

  5. russ says:

    I’ve come close to buying that a few times but I’ve always come to the conclusion I would be better off with a 15.6 display and a ftv stick.

  6. Lee Stover says:

    I had the same problem of not being able to use Downloader. I did a total reboot to factory and was able to get my Downloader back so it would then download, and then was able to sideload some 3rd party apps and get them working by following the steps given on aftvnews.com. This was the case a few days ago, I can’t speak for the present. I would suggest doing a total reboot on the Echo Show 15 before jumping to conclusions that it doesn’t work, because mine did after the reboot.

    • Thanks for the info. I did re-check this morning after a reboot to verify the app was still unavailable before writing the post. I’m also getting flooded with emails and messages from people telling me the app is unavailable, so it’s definitely not just an isolated issue.

  7. Anthony Rossetti says:

    They even disabled downloading from their silk browser.
    What are they going to do about the new EU DMA (Digital Markets Act)
    they won’t be able to block sideloading anymore, at lest in the EU.
    I’m not sure about the US but couldn’t you just change region to EU then sideload the apps you want then change it back to US?
    Seems like this is what people are already talking about doing with IOS devices.

  8. Robert Frano says:

    Don’t Purchase The Echo Show 15…

  9. I am working on a video for a workaround using file xplorer, I need someone to test it since mine already has it installed from Downloader.

  10. Kir says:

    tell me how to make the power supply of any tablet WITHOUT A BATTERY ?

    i would like to completely throw the battery out of my Android tablet, connect a good external speaker to it. and then no Echo Show 15 is needed !!!

    .

  11. Josh says:

    Nothing was explained on why the need of sideloading? What is being installed that is so important?

  12. Okay my workaround video is live. Please like and subscribe, any help is appreciated, and AFTV News can you add it to your article?

    https://youtu.be/nccVeCpNn4M

  13. yakiago says:

    Is it just me?
    When I use Wireless File Manager (Send Files to TV) to transfer apl files to the download folder on the show15, and then start the file application with X-plore File Manager on the show15, the apl files do not appear in the download folder. It does not appear in the download folder.
    I use a Mac to transfer the files, is there a cause there, or does it have to be Windows?

    • Thrashman says:

      I think it only has acccess to it’s own folder so you have to cut the files to sdcard/download every time before you install them

      • yakiago says:

        Thanks for the reply.
        It is an apk file, not an apl file. The predictive conversion is misbehaving.

        So, if you transfer it straight to the downloads folder, it won’t show up? I’ll do my best to find out.

      • yakiago says:

        We have just successfully installed Downloader and Smarttube.

        It didn’t work with Wireless File Manager, so I succeeded by doing it from the Dropbox integration of X-plore File Manager.

    • thrashman says:

      They will be in android/data/io.github.visnkmr.wireless…..
      You have to cut then from there to the download folder in order to install them

  14. Bernadette says:

    Concerning the 15 I am pissed that they made this device into a TV. My kids can no longer touch the screen to navigate the 15. This was the reason I purchased this unit. We were forced into using and buying a remote from a download. I have no way to remove the virtual remote or use the touchscreen. I hate this now and so do my little children. Please let me know if the virtual remote access can be removed? I called Amazon and they said their working on it…

  15. remote fire says:

    i just want to know how to downgrade or ‘fix’ the recent fire tv update of echo show 15 and that darned virtual remote

    my parent is legally blind and the voice commands and touch is what allowed them to use ring cameras, youtube etc.

    now youtube is dead for your finger, and requires that damned virtual remote on the bottom right of the already tiny 15 display

    we will be returning it during the xmas return period in the next few weeks if there is no fix

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