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.