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.
I used it for an 85 year old person it was very practical for her who knows nothing about technology, now Amazon is blocking this essential option for her. I’m going to switch to chromecast Google tv really too bad
You definitely should. Amazon has been going downhill for the past few years.
Bought a couple of Walmart ONN devices at $20 each and all is well.
I was fortunate to grab a few of those too. They’re no longer around.
.I have a smart TV and wish they had sort of allowing me to have three or four programmable buttons for my favorite channels. never knew you could do this and would really be nice to let me go to where I want
You can still remap the buttons using Amazons own guide to doing so.
It’s just your apps that are blocked?
Are you sure? Any link or further info about that method?
I find the Google TV i terrace to be extremely awkward and not at all user friendly. In fact it baffles me how the developers could possibly think it’s a good idea as implemented.
I’m not upset because for me they only ever got in the way when you accidentally hit one.
Amazon keeps shooting itself in the foot. You can’t trust them anymore! Use to be a prime member until I discovered that ordering an item from ebay I would get my item shipped quicker than being a prime member. I was a prime music subscriber until they screwed up that service also. I am strongly considering ordering the Nvdia Pro shield over the 3rd gen cube because I wonder if that will be changed in the future to disallow certain APK apps. Create doubt in the customer’s mind and you will lose business!
I wish they would lose more business, because that’s the only way they’ll stop this downward trend in their business behavior. Sadly they’re basically a Monopoly now and do whatever they want.
At first I read ‘Monopoly’ as ‘Microsoft’, lol!
Lol, the word “monopoly” is interchangeable with Microsoft too. Monopolies are SUPPOSED to be illegal but…
I’m actually done with any Amazon device. They seem to be forcing all their devices toward streaming only Amazon video…and buying from Amazon Prime.
Amazon’s new CEO doing his best to ruin Amazon it seems…
Tnanks for your work!
I have usually little-used Android TV boxes installed on both of my main TVs at home. Usually, I’m using a Fire TV Cube 2nd or Fire TV 4K Max as my main streaming devices, each with an alternate launcher installed and that app keyed to one of the remapped buttons on my Fire TV remotes.
If Amazon goes ahead and ends up pushing an update that breaks the Remapper capability on my devices — and no other workaround emerges — I suspect I’ll be shelving my Amazon Fire TV devices and making my Android streamers my mainly used streaming devices.
PS – I believe I saw Tech Doctor UK comment the other day that automatic app launcher apps installed via the Amazon app store — ones that can be used to launch alternate launchers like those that people now remap remote buttons for — could still be triggered by an Alexa voice command on the remove.
Such as using the “App Opener” app from the Amazon app store, keyed to the alternate launcher app of your choice (Wolf, Leanback, Projectivy, etc.), and the Fire TV remote voice command, “Open App Opener”.
Amazon is doing everything possible to make people ditch their products. They started to blocking stuffs withing the Fire Stick and now the are doing the same with other products.
I like Fire tv stick, I have 3rd gen. I haven’t upgraded because I don’t do Disney+, Hulu, or Netflix (too woke). I like the idea on pro of customized buttons but two are not enough. I am sure the companies are paying Amazon good money to have their buttons on the remote. I use Prime so that button is OK. I prefer Paramount+, Peacock, MGM+, and Screenpix over the woke giants lead by Disney and Netflix.
To Woke? What the hell is that?Some made up term!!How ridiculous!
All the terms of a language are made up terms.
How do you think we got languages in the first place?
Somebody had to put them together.
“Too Woke” is basically someone admitting they could flunk an IQ test.
Woke means not racist and/or bigoted.
Actually Woke is the NuRacists. I’ve never met someone more racially charged than a woke person. Woke is bringing racism back
This might be the single most stupid comment I ever read on the internet.
We must go to different sites, those condemning woke seem to be racists, you may not be.
That is correct
yeah, I’m also cutting out everything woke in my living room
What would be enormously helpful is a common subtitle button that works across all apps as a one-click that doesn’t require stopping the program. Right now it’s the wild west with each app having its own crappy interface.
Wow, what a great idea…with all the different apps it’s probably not that simple but imagine a world with a CC button next to the mute button on your remote…game changer
Amazon Prime, take realistic look at yourself. You’re cutting your nose to spite your face. The less you offer your subscribers, the fewer subscribers you’ll have. I.e, if we can’t install 3rd party apps, you really need to expand your app collection. And where is Spectrum? If Spectrum was available, I wouldn’t have buy a ROKU.
The Spectrum app is available. I shed Spectrum wired cable a year ago but kept the app and get more programs today than I got them. All for less money. You can use the app on a Smart TV or through Roku, etc.
I have update blocker on my 8 firetv devices. I purchased a new firetv cube and was able to quickly sideload update blocker before the update in order to use wolf launcher as my home launcher
Same here.. update blocker and wolf launcher saved my tv from getting thrown away numerous times
I suppose the streaming service that paid amazon for the privilege of having their app button on the remote was not pleased that the button could be programmed to launch another app instead. I prefer the older remote without the app buttons.
What is the cost of the fire stick
I’ve no idea why anyone would use a fire stick. I started using Google TV with Chromecast and it’s awesome. You don’t need to side load apps like emby..tivimate or other iptv apps. I like the unified program guide that shows you what’s available based on what service’s you’re subscribed to
I’m still using the old controller, the one with IR and Alexa capabilites but without Netflix or any other third party streaming service button. It’s the better controller they made and I will keep it as long as I can. So, no remap needed nor annoying buttons to be pressed for services I may have or I may not.
Are Sideclicks still available? I had one for my old early Fire remote and it made it much more enjoyable to use.
I’ve always used a 3rd party remote connected via Bluetooth, easily customisable and has a keyboard on the back side. Also charges via USB so never the need for batteries.
This is so true. Tv shows that I was able to watch for free, when I first got my I now have to pay for by episode or purchase. That makes me very mad. As technology has improved they’ve taken away things I once had from the beginning. When it was only one style of fire stick. They have also sold some of the shows to streaming apps. Causing us to purchase shows from Amazon or purchase more apps. There up grades are costing us more. Allowing us to view less.
In the UK sky is by far the best interface.
Thanks for all your work Elias.
Amazon keeps you busy by “blocking” features Fire TV should have in the first place.
Just ordered Pro the other day on sale for $30, for backlight and channel buttons. Thanks for letting us know it also has two “supported” mappable buttons. Will be nice to have at least 2 that won’t randomly stop working due to updates.
Anyone know of a quick way to navigate to the top of the channel guide?
The question was asked on Amazon forums, but only got the standard “ask for this feature via the feedback button :(”
Elias Saba, could you create a shortcut for this?
Got a Amazon Firestick 4K Max recently, but ever since I became a ftv it seems Amazon is blocking everything left right and centre. Thinking of moving back to the Chromecast tbh.
i’ve just bought the fire stick 4. i can suddenly lose my picture. i’ve got in touch with Amazon they were brilliant. reset it. but forgot to ask. if i bought a more expensive fire stick. would it be better?
Can alexia to show me my kindle books anymore the would show on my TV click and she reads it to me now I have say the name if the book then she reads it
I just helped my elderly neighbor buy and install two 4K Fire Sticks. I was amazed that one of the pre-programmed buttons was for DIRECTV! That makes no sense to me. They now have a non-changeable button for a quickly fading service. Why? Better choices would be YouTube TV or Roku TV. Better yet, show some market awareness and make all of them consumer selectable!
DIRECTV! That makes no sense to me. They now have a non-changeable button for a quickly fading service. Why?
Because DirectTV paid Amazon for it.
Better choices would be YouTube TV or Roku TV.
Except each of them are owned by Amazon’s direct competitors for the set top box market, why would you think…?
Hey wait, this is satire, right?
Better yet, show some market awareness and make all of them consumer selectable!
I’m guessing Amazon assesses the sales lost to customers that object to buttons, not that I like them mind you, is inconsequential compared to the money streamers like Netflix will pay them to brand their buttons on every single device. Unfortunately, that’s probably an accurate assessment.
Time to stop buying firesticks
I have 18.104.22.168 (PS7624/3338) on my 4k max and remapper is still working for me on the hulu and disney+ buttons. Maybe it just applies for trying to setup/change remapper after the update.
bummer – looks like remapping has already been blocked on an Insignia Fire TV (32”)
we see the “fake” apps (Disney+ and Hulu) and are able to map them but nothing happens when you click the buttons on the remote.
I don’t know where the log files are and guessing it failed the verification check Amazon implemented.
This is a bunch of BS – we have an extra Chromecast for Google TV lying around and just going to ignore the FireTV internals in the TV – it’s kinda silly to be honest!
So now there is no way to link a side loaded app to one of the custom buttons on the pro remote? Seeing as that’s the only reason why I purchased it, that really irks me.
Hi Troy ,my internet went down quite a while recently VM ,when it was restored no way can I connect my Samsung Android TVs to my internet also 3rd Generation Firestick no joy ,devices upstairs on WI-FI,but my HP printer is connected which is strange too me ,iPad connects upstairs ,and Samsung phone ,even tried to connect 3rd generation downstairs but still no connection reports Timed Out cannot connect to amazon.co.uk ,this leads me to suspicions ,Dave had VM technicians out said all was well
I’ve always believed that manufacturers should work with the community to encourage modifications and personalization of equipment, be they cars or entertainment devices. The success of Microsoft Flight Simulator, for example, was based on the freedom of third party developers to create aircraft, liveries, paint kits, panels, sound kits, sceneries, AI flights, and so much more. When a manufacturer starts to behave like Apple and Tesla, hiding codes and software from owners and repairers, then we should boycott their products and show them who is boss.
But that said, we who want freedom over the things we have bought, need to display responsibility for our actions. When we mess with what was established as safe or secure and then end up with something that causes harm or increased cost, we cannot then turn to the manufacturers to bear responsibility. And that is exactly what has happened over the years, forcing manufacturers to lock shop on us. We can’t have our cake, eat it, and give it away at the same time.
Keep working at your craft, though. I’ve made some mods to my Fire Sticks and the ability to remap a button to function as an Off/Sleep button would be VERY helpful, since Amazon hasn’t thought of that one as yet. I publicly give you that idea for your next project!
The problem with the Firestick is it’s a subsidized device. Amazon probably loses about $100 on every unit they sell, with the assumption that they’ll make it back when the user buys services. So they do have an incentive to keep their users restricted. Unfortunately.
For me the inability to remap app buttons is a dealbreaker since I can’t stand looking at Amazon’s ad riddled launcher screen. I ordered a “Google TV with Chromecast”, hoping that’s much better.
I’ll let this mistake slide if they actually get “watch next” working for subscriptions even those you haven’t subscribed to thru Amazon video. BTW Android TV has finally worked out the bugs for this feature.
Wanted to mention for anyone else who is fed up with Amazon doing stuff like this: I just bought a “Chromecast with Google TV HD”, costs $30 and I like it better than the Fire Stick in almost every way. The only thing better on the Firestick is the feel of the remote, but no biggie, the Chromecast’s remote is fine. I’m glad to finally be done fighting Amazon to make Firesticks useful.
I wrote up some notes on switching here if anyone is curious:
One of the interesting questions about the original article here regarding the Amazon update to Fire Stick 4K Max models was whether the new Amazon update would only prevent remapping in the future, and/or whether it would also break/kill prior remapping setups on 4K Max devices.
I had remapping set up on my 4K Max device before this article was published and before Amazon pushed its update… All I know is all this time later, my original remapping setup on my Fire Stick 4K Max continues to function today as it always has, and I continue to have easy 1 button access to my alternate home screen launcher.
Anyone else who had prior remapping set up on a 4K Max device have any comparable outcomes with this issue?