Amazon Fire TV devices gain new grid app launcher through OTA system app update


The Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick have gained a new grid based app launcher. The new launcher is opened by double pressing the home button on your remote and serves as an alternative to the horizontal app list that was introduced when Amazon added double home press functionality. If you prefer the horizontally scrolling list of apps, you can still quickly get to it by holding the home button on your remote and selecting the “My Apps” option from the list of shortcuts that appear. The main Fire TV “App” section also continues to use horizontal scrolling lists. You’ll be happy to know that sideloaded apps, including Kodi, do appear in this new app launcher alongside official apps from the Amazon appstore.

The apps are sorted by most recently used with no option to sort another way. The grid consists of only icons with no text whatsoever. Ther’s no way to view the app names or descriptions form this new interface.

The new app launcher is arriving on Fire TV devices through an over the air update to one of the system apps. This is not a new software version that updates the entire operating system and there is no notification that the system app has been updated. If you don’t have the new feature yet, it’ll probably arrive within the next few days.

If you have blocked software updates using method 1 or 2 of my blocking guide, you will not receive this new launcher because those blocking methods also block system app updates. The good news is, the next time a software update is released and a new pre-rooted ROM is created, it will include this new system app.

If you’re rooted, and want this new app launcher before a new full software update and ROM are released, you have two options. Your first option is to be sure you’re on the latest pre-rooted ROM version and unblock updates to see if you get the new app laucnher within a few hours. Since you’re on the latest software version, there’s minimal risk of a new OTA update to get released while you have updates unblocked. The other safer option is to block software updates using the new method only. This new method only blocks operating system updates and does not block system app updates. Once you get the new app launcher, you can re-apply the method 1 update block to be extra safe again.

  1. cdlenfert says:

    Nice! Looks like it’s time to let FireStarter go.

    Question: Is the new grid sorted by the most recently used apps?

    • AFTVnews says:

      Sorry, I meant to include that information but forgot. I’ve added it in now.

      Yes, the apps are sorted by most recently used. There are no other sorting options.

      • ulises A. Rodriguez, Ph.D. says:

        For this and many other good reasons I consider that Firestarter is Excellent and still very useful, because we can sort all the APPs/Icons in any order, and not just by most recently used APPs…

  2. Raf says:

    Step in the right direction.

    Now just launch me into this app launcher by default and allow me to never see that original launcher unless I need to change settings.


  3. Vulcan195 says:

    Heres hoping that Amazon gets rid of the scrolling tiles feature on Fire TV across these board . It’s horrendously ineffective in navigating lists that are larger than a handful of titles.

  4. InReason says:

    half a solution. One of the biggest advantageous of Firestarter is that apps stay where you put them. Sorting by most recent drives me crazy.

  5. tech3475 says:

    So now that they’ve introduced this new feature, besides losing firestarter/internal adb, https updates and potential root on unrooted devices, are there any other issues on newer firmwares?

  6. Robert Simandl says:

    I see an Epix app in the above pic, but still no Epix app for download?

  7. zdogmidnight says:

    Now if they can only let the ftv support mkv files. Why was this left out? Everything supports mkv but Fire TV

    • Adam says:

      I imagine it was left out because their priority is to be a steaming _service_ device, and an Amazon one at that. Supporting (some) media playing apps is only a concession to more technologically sophisticated customers that would go elsewhere if they couldn’t stream local content.

      That said, simply sideloading Kodi or SPMC (or installing MrMC from the Amazon app store if sideloading is just Too. Darn. Hard…) gives you immediate mkv support, along with a BUNCH of other cool features. So I don’t think the FireTV/Stick coming without mkv support out of the box is that big of a deal.

    • AFTVnews says:

      It’s not that it’s missing mkv support. It’s that it doesn’t have a native video player for local files.

      You have to remember, when the Fire TV first came out, the USB port was disabled so there was no easy way to get your files onto it, so there was no need for a native video player. If we’re lucky, the next generation will revamp the interface and come with a native player.

      • D says:

        Standalone players for local media files had been out for 10+ years when Amazon designed their devices, many with good network and USB support. It’s possible they may have gotten the hint just by looking at the plethora of “Fully loaded!” sticks on their store and eBay. We know that their engineers are not oblivious to various mods and techniques by the various cat-and-mouse Apple-ish responses in their ROMs – closing root ability, crippling fastboot, blocking Firestarter *by name*, removing Kodi from their store, and so on and so forth. These are progressively incremental and tiny concessions to their small contingent of power users.

        They could have easily included a local player by using freely available and open-licensed software, or rebranded another player. Android players and dedicated chipsets were already glutting the market when Fire TV was released. However, the primary focus is to steer people towards all things Amazon – streaming, Alexa, shopping, channel subscriptions, and maybe some apps if you’re into that sort of thing. And more streaming!

        I predict Amazon will fight supporting local content for as long as they are able to and still sell devices, and it is only through accidental vulnerabilities and some creative and persistent hacking that we have as much power as we do over these sticks and boxes. I don’t think support would try to assist anyone using a sideloaded application such as Kodi.

        I love Prime and will keep streaming Amazon’s seemingly endless collection of B and Z grade midnight movies, but will never stop collecting and watching my own collection of greats, and I keep other players around that do great jobs at this as well: Sidewinder 3, Mad Catz MOJO, TV’s built-in DLNA player (not so great).

  8. Lisa says:

    I’m so tired of Amazon messing with Kodi all the time. First it’s allowed. Then it’s not. Then they block Firestarter. Then they put Kodi in the recent apps list. Then they remove it from there. I’ve had it with Amazon and this device, to be honest. Alternatives for Kodi?

  9. Jim says:

    So if I used only method 4(openDNS) to block updates and its unrooted then will I get the recent opened apps in grid format? J have most recent

  10. Phil says:

    Hi Elias, I have turned off updates on my fire TV, and I am using method 5, did this 3 days ago, I don’t seem to have received the ota new grid update. Are you aware if it has been,or is going to be released in the UK.

  11. Christopher Loughrey says:

    Is everyone getting this before I bother updating and get stuck with the limited Firestarter functionality? Currently on the older update that allows Firestarter full functionality

  12. Christopher Loughrey says:

    It hasn’t come to me yet, still the horizontal

  13. Mike says:

    I have a 1st gen and 2nd gen Fire TV. Both are rooted and on 5.0.5 firmware. Updates are blocked on both devices internally and through the router.

    Some time in the last few days, on both devices, the Apps section on the main screen has become unusable. The cursor will jump back up a few categories or show a blank screen when landing on the Apps section.

    All other categories appear to be working normally.

    • Jeff says:

      Same here. Let me know if you find a fix.

      • Mike says:

        For now the Apps section is working on both boxes.

        I tried selecting the Apps section multiple times and hitting the select button before it would jump. After trying that a few times the Apps section started displaying again. We will see if it lasts.

  14. AFTVUser says:

    Kind of a lazy attempt by Amazon as the lack of app-sorting capabilities renders it fairly useless.

    Fortunately, the current iteration of AppStarter (the app previously known as FireStarter) still works quite well as an app-launcher and is also the first app to load when I launch my Fire TV if I simply let it be the sleep-app after using any other app on the same.

  15. xnamkcor says:

    If I am rooted and blocked updates the old way, and I suspect I may have broken the app launcher, is there a way to manually install the new app launcher?

  16. xnamkcor says:

    My Fire TV has no wireless data plan. How do I get OTA updates?

  17. Gavin says:

    No-one seems to mention the lack of a Recent section at the top of the menu after the update. Am I the only one missing it? Takes twice as long to do anything now….very frustrating!!

  18. thrashin says:

    I was lucky enough to grab a copy of AFF media player (which is basically a wrapper around Kodi) before it was taken down from the App store. As its in my cloud purchases, I can also reinstall it any time I want. Although it doesn’t update to the latest Kodi builds, I can use is as a normal Firestick App. I may have to sideload at some stage, but for the last 12 months or so, AFF is working fine for me! :)

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