Echo Show 15 with Fire TV interface does not allow App Sideloading, resulting in crippled app development

The Fire TV interface for the Echo Show 15 recently started rolling out to devices, turning the smart display into an entertainment powerhouse. While there are many apps already available for the device, a lot of them are missing and not compatible. Of the apps that are available, the majority are not optimized for the device’s touch interface and some are so buggy on the new platform that it renders them unusable. Unfortunately, Amazon has chosen to completely block app sideloading on the Echo Show 15, which is a crucial capability that Fire TV app developers need if they want to fix or improve their apps on the Echo Show 15.


A workaround method for sideloading on the Echo Show 15 has been discovered. See here for a full guide on how to sideload apps on the Echo Show 15.

On all Fire TV devices prior to the Echo Show 15, app developers could test and debug their apps by sideloading them through the Android Debug Bridge (ADB), as outlined by Amazon’s developer documentation, or by using another app to sideload their app, like my Downloader app. On the Echo Show 15, neither option is available, leaving developers no way to test their apps directly on the smart display. As a Fire TV app developer myself with dozens of apps that have been installed tens of millions of times, this choice by Amazon, essentially, ties my hands behind my back and leaves me with no way to easily make my apps compatible with the Echo Show 15.

Like stand-alone Fire TV devices, the Echo Show 15 has a hidden developer options menu, which can be accessed by tapping the device’s serial number display under Settings > Device Options. While this developer menu has been available since the original 1st-gen Echo Show was released in 2017, it has served no practical purpose since there has not been a way to use 3rd-party apps on Echo Show devices prior to the arrival of the new Fire TV capabilities. It is this developer options menu where I expected to find an option to enable ADB Debugging or the installation of apps from unknown sources, as is available on all prior Fire TV devices, but the Echo Show 15 only lists one developer option called Ship Mode, which just resets the device to factory defaults.

The Echo Show 15 allows for files to be downloaded through apps like my Downloader app, but if the file you download is an app APK and you try to install the app, you get a message saying “For your security, your tablet is not allowed to install unknown apps from this source.” This is a standard Android message that is displayed when the app hasn’t been granted permission to install apps, but there is no way to grant this permission to apps on the Echo Show 15. Selecting the “Settings” option at the bottom of the message, which normally takes you to the settings menu where you can grant the app permission to install unknown apps, just closes out the message and doesn’t load anything.

The Fire TV interface on the Echo Show 15 is missing the standard Fire TV settings menu where ADB connections and permissions for installing unknown apps are granted. Instead, all available Fire TV settings are in the Echo’s settings interface, which only has a small subset of usual Fire TV options. The standard Fire TV settings app is actually present on the device, but the settings app activity which normally loads the need permissions menu is blocked from launching.

Without any way to sideload and test apps on the Echo Show 15, my advice to all Fire TV app developers is to simply block your apps from being installed on the device until Amazon corrects this oversight. It’s simply not worth the potential negative reviews and customer support headache when there is no way to easily test apps directly on the device they are running on. I had high hopes for using the Echo Show 15 to make my apps touchscreen-capable so that they can be better used in cars with built-in Fire TV systems, but that’s not possible due to Amazon’s decision to block app sideloading. As for customers thinking of buying an Echo Show 15 for use as a Fire TV, I would hold off until Amazon fixes this issue. Without the ability to sideload apps on the Echo Show 15, I expect its app ecosystem to slowly get worse and worse over time.


A workaround method for sideloading on the Echo Show 15 has been discovered. See here for a full guide on how to sideload apps on the Echo Show 15.

  1. Craig S. says:

    I wish they would allow the installation and side loading of Android phone/tablet apps like OneNote (Recipes and Notes) and “ToDo” for Grocery List on the Echo Shows. Also? Give Silk a more central placement in the Show’s Home Screen for web surfing.

  2. Gl says:

    IMHO, don’t think this might be deliberate and not an oversight. While I don’t use the Echo Show 15, it worries me that Amazon is going the route of blocking sideloading. I bought into several Fire TV devices for this specific reasons and not having to deal with crap Chinese android TV/PC streaming devices over the years.

    Can you please find out if possible if this “feature” is going to be rolled out to older sticks, cubes and Gen 2 fire Tv as well? I better be prepared to stop the auto update these devices

  3. Kir says:

    is there an alternative to Echo Show 15 ?

    i.e. smart display + speaker, and you can install any Android application. for example, their “Internet Radio” and SmartNext Tube.

    Lenovo Smart Display 10″ – can I put APK there ?

  4. Paul says:

    I really hope someone finds a way to sideload apps to this, what is the micro usb port for on the back? Any chance that can be connected to something to allow sidekloading etc.

  5. VEGGIEIB says:

    Thankyou for Sharing!

  6. Dennis Eijs says:

    Just send the device back for a refund. The device is defective. That is what we should do more.

  7. Daniel V says:

    You can install apps via the “files” app. You can enter the app via totalcommander and than start a another app

    • SCSR says:

      What do you mean via the files app? Can you explain this a little better? I have total commander open not sure what to do next.

  8. michael says:

    anyone know a list of apps that can be installed
    can plex be installed?

  9. I actually worked mt way through this and put together a whole video on how to sideload the apps. It would be great if you could feature it and help out my channel.

    Video here (after uploading and processing)

    • Bobby says:

      Thank you so much for this! I didn’t use it for kodi but it gave me the same method needed for my app! Turned it into the perfect device I was hoping for!

  10. Mike77 says:

    It would be useless to me without the ability to side load apps, but thankfully that is not the case. Sorry, but this story is completely false and should be corrected or taken down and replaced with proper side loading instructions by someone who knows what they are talking about.

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