Amazon has pushed out a software update to select Fire TV devices that prevents customers from remapping the app shortcut buttons at the bottom of Fire TV remotes. Two years ago I released my Remapper app which allows Fire TV owners to use the app buttons on their remote to launch any app they wanted. When releasing the utility, I noted that I expected Amazon to block its use at some point and now that day has come.
Unlike on Android TV and Google TV devices, where apps to remap nearly any button on the remote are freely available in the Google Play Store, Amazon has never allowed predefined Fire TV remote buttons to be remapped. Over the years, Amazon has actively prevented workarounds that allowed buttons to be remapped.
While most remapping methods in the past were complex and often involved monitoring the Fire TV’s log file in real-time to detect when a specific button was pressed, my Remapper app was much simpler. The app, which could only remap select 3rd-party app shortcut buttons like Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu buttons, worked by simply mimicking the app that the button was supposed to launch. This came with several limitations, such as not being able to have the real app that was associated with the button installed on the device, but many were fine with those limitations.
A year after releasing Remapper, Amazon pushed out a software update to Fire TV devices that prevented the remapping method from working by checking if the app being launched by the app button was installed by the Amazon Appstore. If not, the app launch was aborted. Luckily, it just required the addition of a few more steps during the setup process to trick the Fire TV into thinking the Remapper app was installed by the Amazon Appstore, and remapping app buttons was once again possible.
That changed with the recent arrival of software update version 220.127.116.11 to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. This update contains a more sophisticated method to detect whether the app being launched by the remote app buttons is the expected app or not. Trying to use Remapper to remap an app button results in the line “App [app name] is not trusted. Aborting launch.” appearing in the Fire TV’s log file.
So far, only the Fire TV Stick 4K Max has received this change, but I expect other Fire TV models to also eventually receive a similar update that prevents my Remapper app from working. As mentioned in my introductory post about the app, this was to be expected. It was a nice two years where we were able to crawl back a bit of control over how Fire TV remotes worked, but I don’t expect a new workaround to be found to get Remapper to work again.
In that time, Amazon has since released the Alexa Voice Remote Pro for Fire TV devices which has two customizable buttons that can be programmed to launch any app. If you need remote buttons to do your bidding, buying that remote is your best option. While paying $35 to regain functionality you already had for free is far from ideal, at least there is a legitimate alternative now which did not exist when Remapper was first released.