A recent software update to Amazon Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks has added a simple but powerful new feature to how the devices wake up. If you have a child profile created through Amazon’s FreeTime service, which is being rebranded as Amazon Kids, you can now configure the Fire TV to ask you which profile you’d like to use every time it wakes up. The reason why this is powerful is that, when combined with a child PIN, this, for the first time, gives Fire TV owners a way to completely lock their device.
Amazon Fire TVs have always had parental controls that allow you to require a PIN code be entered before certain things can be done, like viewing adult rated videos or making any purchases. In addition to those basic parental controls, some Fire TV models support Amazon FreeTime (soon to be Amazon Kids). FreeTime takes parental controls a step further by allowing you to create 1 or more child profiles where you select the specific videos and apps that the child has access to.
When an Amazon FreeTime/Kids profile is selected on a Fire TV, the entire interface of the device changes and the regular interfaced is hidden away. It has always been possible to require a PIN code be entered to leave the child interface and return back to the regular Fire TV interface, but you had to first enter the child profile to add that restriction.
What has recently changed is a new option being added to show the profile selection screen every time the Fire TV wakes up or is powered on. Even if the last profile used was the regular “Fire TV for all” interface, the Fire TV will ask you which profile you’d like to use when it wakes up. This means that you no longer need to manually enter a child profile every time you’re done using your Fire TV if you want to prevent someone from accessing the regular interface.
If you have a child PIN configured, which is optional, it means that you’ll need to enter the PIN every time the Fire TV wakes up in order to access the regular interface. Prior to this change, it has not been possible to PIN lock the regular interface by default. While I expect that that may sound like a nuisance to most people, it’s a new capability that can add some peace of mind to those with kids or even people with roommates or other people in the house that they don’t want to have any access to the regular Fire TV interface.
While the child profile can always be accessed without needing to enter a PIN, those who just want the ability to lock the regular interface by default can just create a dummy child profile with no content added. Then just enable the “Show Profiles at Wake” option and the entire device will essentially be unusable without the PIN. Amazon Kids/FreeTime, and this new option, is currently available on all Fire TV models except the Fire TV Cube (1st & 2nd-gen) and the 1st-gen Fire TV Stick.