Amazon seems to have a love-hate relationship with sideloading apps on its Fire TV devices. On one hand, sideloading is a necessary feature of any Android-based device to attract developers and the flexibility sideloading provides consumers is certainly attractive to advanced buyers that like to tinker with their devices. On the other hand, sideloading likely accounts for some unwanted percentage of customer service calls and it gives consumers more ways out of Amazon’s walled garden. While nothing has, thankfully, been changed to the functionality of sideloading on Fire TV devices, a recent update has changed the on-device messaging about the act to be far more severe.
In a recent Fire TV software update, Amazon has updated the descriptive text and warnings present when trying to enable installing apps from unknown sources. On the most recent Fire TV models running Fire OS 7, the description presented alongside the setting option used to be:
“Allow specific applications to install other applications that are not from Appstore.”
On older Fire TV models running Fire OS 6 or Fire OS 5, which use a slightly different menu format for enabling apps from unknown sources, the description used to be:
“Allow installation of applications that are not from Appstore. Turn this option ON only if you install apps from reliable sources as a developer.”
Both newer and older Fire TV models now list a more ominous message that reads:
“Turning on this setting enables you to install apps from unknown sources on your device. Be aware that installing or using apps from unknown sources may make your device and personal data more vulnerable to security risks or damage.”
Additionally, when enabling the “Apps from Unknown Sources” option on older devices, a popup message would appear giving the user one last chance to cancel the action. Amazon has now added “WARNING:” in all capital letters to the front of the popup message text.
While these updated messages are inconsequential and will likely go mostly unnoticed by the vast majority of Fire TV users that want to enable the ability to install apps from unknown sources on their device, it does show that Amazon is thinking about app sideloading and wants to deter it with warnings. One would have hoped that Amazon could secure its devices to the point where installing any app, whether it was sideloaded or not, couldn’t possibly “make your device and personal data more vulnerable to security risks or damage,” but these new warnings seem to indicate otherwise.