Amazon is in the business to sell you an experience with the Fire TV, not just hardware. That’s why they’re able to sell the device at cost and keep the product line a worthwhile venture. When apps like homescreen replacements, launchers, and media players try to change that experience, Amazon has been swift in rejecting these apps from the official Fire TV Appstore.
About a month ago I submitted an app to the Amazon Fire TV Appstore called Kodi Launcher. The app simply launched Kodi if it was installed on the Fire TV. If Kodi was not found, it displayed a message saying so. Since Kodi itself would never officially be in the Amazon Appstore, I figured this app would be a simple way to launch Kodi form the Fire TV homescreen. I also submitted an identical app which launched XBMC and one which launched SPMC. I knew Amazon had rejected homescreen replacement apps in the past, but I thought my apps may be accepted because they did not try to replace the homescreen in any way.
The apps had been “under review” for 3 weeks when I contacted one of Amazon’s developer evangelists to see why the review process was taking so long. He was very nice and quick to help. The next day I received an email stating that my apps were rejected because they “override the native user experience.” This was similar to the response that the developers of FiredTV Launcher and AGK Launcher received when they tried submitting their apps to Amazon’s Fire TV Appstore.
The developer of SPMC, an unofficial Kodi spinoff app, also tried to submit his app to the Fire TV Appstore. The app was approved for the general Amazon Android Appstore, but was rejected from the Fire TV Appstore with a generic reason similar to the one I received.
The only official Fire TV app I know of capable of launching sideloaded apps is Application Organizer Pro. My theory is that this app slipped past Amazon’s reviewers because you have to enable an option buried in the settings menu for the app to actually launch anything. Other than this one exception, Amazon has been consistently rejecting apps that play nice with sideloading. Add that to the fact that SPMC was rejected and it’s clear that Amazon wants to keep Fire TV users inside their walled garden.