Everything you need to know about the Fire OS 5 update for the 1st-gen Fire TV and Fire TV Stick

Now that Amazon has officially addressed the next software update for the 1st-gen Fire TV and the older Fire TV Stick that shipped with a non-voice remote, we finally have an expected date for the long awaited Fire OS 5 software update. It looks like Fire OS 5 will come to the 1st-gen Fire TV and Fire TV Stick in a standard over-the-air software update in February. Here’s everything you need to know about the update.

New Features

Alexa Voice Assistant

alexa-sample-card-headerThe biggest new feature being added by the Fire OS 5 software update is Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. This is nearly identical to having an Amazon Echo built into the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. I say nearly because there are a few things one can do with Alexa on the Echo that are not yet available on the Fire TV platform. There are too many features Alexa is capable of to list here, so skim through all my Alexa articles to get a sense of what the addition of Alexa means for the Fire TV. You will be able to access Alexa with either a voice remote, the new gaming controller, or the Fire TV Remote app.

Native Sideloaded App Launching

sideloaded-app-support-added-to-fire-tv-kodiWith the 5.0.4 software update for the 2nd-gen Fire TV, we finally gained the ability to launch sideloaded apps from the Fire TV’s “Apps” section. There’s no reason to think this functionality will not also come to the 1st-gen Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Sideloaded apps will appear alongside “official” apps installed from the Fire TV appstore. You will also be able to mark sideloaded apps as favorites, just like you can for official apps, so that they appear at the front of your list of apps. Currently, sideloaded apps do not appear on the 2nd-gen Fire TV’s home screen “Recent” list, but that may be addressed when the feature makes it’s way to older devices.

New Voice Remote and Game Controller Support

new-snd-gen-fire-tv-game-controller-mineFire OS 5 will add support for both the new Voice Remote and the new Fire TV Game Controller to older devices. Both of these new peripherals connect to the Fire TV via a wifi-direct connection and require Fire OS 5 to work. They do not use bluetooth, like the first generation of remotes and controllers. Older bluetooth based remotes and controllers will of course still work, but you’ll be able to use the newer peripherals with your 1st-gen hardware if you’d like. It is still assumed the new game controllers audio port will not work with the 1st-gen Fire TV and Fire TV Stick even after the Fire OS 5 software update arrives.

Bluetooth Headphones, Mice, and Keyboard Support

other-bluetooth-devices-headphones-mice-keyboardsFire TV owners have long enjoyed the ability to connect bluetooth devices, like headphones, mice, and keyboards to their boxes. This ability has been omitted from the Fire TV Stick up until now. The Fire OS 5 software update will be adding this ability to all Fire TV Sticks. The addition of bluetooth audio support will allow owners of Fire TV Sticks that shipped with the non-voice remote to connect bluetooth headphones and privately listen to audio without disturbing those around them.

Japanese Language Support

system-language-selection-japaneseAmazon began selling the new Fire TV and Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote in Japan in October 2015. To do so, Amazon added Japanese language support to Fire OS 5. All 1st-gen Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks will gain the option to switch their language setting to Japanese once the Fire OS 5 software update arrives. The available language options for all Fire TV models will be English (US), English (UK), German (Deutschland), German (Österreich), and Japanese once older devices receive the Fire OS 5 software update.

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) Support

fire-tv-wps-wifi-network-connectionFire OS 5 adds support for Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) routers and connections. These routers offer an alternative to manually entering your network’s password. Fire OS 5 supports both the WPS PIN method or push button method.


Unsupported Apps

llama-crossed-out-unsupportedSome apps that currently work with 1st-gen Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks will be incompatible with Fire OS 5. This is due to Fire OS 5 using Android 5.1 as its base operating system, instead of Android 4.2.2, which is what the older Fire OS uses. One of those such apps is Llama, which many Fire TV owners use to more easily launch sideloaded apps. If you currently use Llama to launch a sideloaded app like Kodi, you will need to either switch to FireStarter, which has been updated to support Fire OS 5, or simply launch sideloaded apps from the Fire TV’s “Apps” section. There are also official apps in the Fire TV’s appstore that currently do not support Fire OS 5. If those app’s developers do not update their apps, you may not be able to use those apps on your device once it’s updated to Fire OS 5. Of the over 4,000 Fire TV apps, there are only around a couple hundred that are currently listed as incompatible with Fire OS 5 devices, so it’s unlikely your apps will stop working after the Fire OS 5 update, but there’s no way to know until the update arrives. Notably, the Watch ABC app is currently only available for the 1st-gen Fire TV, so that could be an indication that it will not work with Fire OS 5 devices.

Newly Supported Apps

cbs-fox-plex-fire-os-5-appsMany newly released or recently updated Fire TV apps require Fire OS 5 to function correctly. Once older devices receive Fire OS 5, they should have access to these newer apps. The new CBS All Access app and the new FOX NOW app are two examples of popular new apps that are only compatible with Fire OS 5 devices, so these apps should work with older devices after the update arrives. Additionally, Plex has made improvements to their app that requires Fire OS 5, so expect a better Plex experience once Fire OS 5 arrives. Kodi works fine on Fire OS 5, so your Kodi setup should continue to work the same way with the new software update, with the exception of custom settings involving USB drives. The next section will cover that in detail.

External USB Storage

USB Directory Path

USB-STORAGE-DIRECTORY-PATHUSB drives will still work with Fire OS 5, but there are a couple important changes worth knowing about. The file path of a USB drive connected to the 1st-gen Fire TV will likely change once that device gets updated to Fire OS 5. Currently, USB drives connected to the 1st-gen Fire TV are mounted at /storage/extUsb/. This will likely change to /storage/usbdisk/, like it is in the developer preview, or possibly (but unlikely) /storage/usbotg/, like it is on the 2nd-gen Fire TV. This change will not affect apps that have been moved to external storage, but any apps you use which access or store data on the USB drive may be affected. For example, if you have Kodi setup to store its settings/library on external storage, it’s likely that kodi will be unable to find those files after the update because the old path will still be in your xbmc_env.properties or advancedsettings.xml files. You will need to edit those files and update the directory location for your files. Even if you simply access media from a connected USB drive, you will probably need to change your app’s settings to point to the new directory path before your media appears within the app.

App Write Permissions

lollipop-file-write-permision-selectorThe other change pertaining to USB drives with Fire OS 5 has to do with write permission for apps. In Android 5.0, and therefore in Fire OS 5, the operating system does not allow apps to freely modify/write data to any directory of an attached USB drive. Apps can only modify data in their sandboxed directory, located at the directory ../Android/data/[PACKAGE_NAME], otherwise they must explicitly prompt you to grant them permission to write data in a different location on an attatched USB drive. Not all apps have been updated to ask for permission, so some just fail to write data anywhere outside of their sandboxed directory. Generally, it’s rare to run into this issue and it’s becoming rarer as app developers update their apps to follow the new rules, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Rooted Fire TVs

Pre-Rooted ROM

rom-rooted-prerooted-updateRbox, the developer/hacker/savior who creates the pre-rooted ROMs for rooted 1st-gen Fire TVs, has said that he plans to release a pre-rooted version of the Fire OS 5 software update so that rooted 1st-gen Fire TV owners can continue updating their devices without losing root access. The process of updating a rooted Fire TV to Fire OS 5 will be very different than you’re used to, so do not just simply try flashing the new pre-rooted Fire OS 5 ROM like you’ve been doing for all previous updates. I’ll have a guide walking you through the process shortly after rbox releases the Fire OS 5 pre-rooted ROM.

Custom Recovery

twrp-custom-recovery-fire-tv-2One of the reasons why updating a rooted 1st-gen Fire TV to Fire OS 5 will be more complicated than you’re used to is because you will likely need to install a new custom recovery. Rbox has stated that the existing ClockworkMod Custom Recovery will not work with Fire OS 5. He is working on porting over TWRP Custom Recovery to work with the 1st-gen Fire TV and expects to have it ready by the time Fire OS 5 is released by Amazon. So before installing the Fire OS 5 pre-rooted ROM on a rooted 1st-gen Fire TV, you will need to replace ClockworkMod with TWRP. Once rbox releases TWRP and the pre-rooted ROM, I’ll write a guide walking you through the process of installing both.

Blocking Updates

fire-tv-block-software-updates-aftvnewsBlocking software updates on a rooted Fire TV has changed with Fire OS 5. There’s a possibility that your rooted Fire TV will once again begin checking for updates after you install the Fire OS 5 pre-rooted ROM. This isn’t really an issue, since custom recovery should prevent the update from installing even if the OS downloads it, but it’s a good idea to redo the blocking steps once you’ve updated to Fire OS 5.


ADB Connections

adb-debugging-options-system-settings-all-enabledADB connections will continue to work with Fire OS 5 except for one important change. With Fire OS 5, the Fire TV can only have one active ADB connection at a time. This is generally not a problem, except for apps that need to perform an internal ADB connection to function correctly. FireStarter was such an app, but the developer has updated his app to work with Fire OS 5 and this new limitation. Just be aware that if you have trouble making an ADB connection with a Fire OS 5 device, it may be because one of the apps you have installed is itself making an internal ADB connection. Generally, if you can’t connect, you should force quit apps that might be making ADB connections and then toggle ADB off then back on within the Fire TV’s settings menu.

Incremental Software Updates

inremental-software-updateWith Fire OS 5, Amazon has switched to incremental software updates. This means that after the first big download that updates the device to Fire OS 5, subsequent updates will be much smaller and download faster. This is generally a good thing, especially for those with data caps, but be aware that, if you’re blocking/avoiding software updates in the future, updates will download and install very quickly, so there’s less of an opportunity to kill an update that is already in progress.

Fire TV Wi-Fi “Hotspot”

fire-tv-wifi-signalFire OS 5’s support for the newer wifi-direct voice remote and game controller comes with one small quirk. Once your Fire TV is running Fire OS 5, it will be broadcasting what seems like a wifi hotspot. If you scan for wifi connections with a PC or mobile device, you’ll probably see an odd connection with “Fire TV” in the name. Don’t be alarmed, as this is perfectly normal. There’s no concern of anyone connecting to your network through your Fire TV and you should just learn to ignore the connection.

Possible Extras

This article covers everything I know so far about Fire OS 5 from what I’ve seen with the developer preview and with new devices like the 2nd-gen Fire TV and the newer Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote that shipped with Fire OS 5 pre-installed. Of course, there could be more changes once it’s finally released. For starters, there’s a slight chance it’ll arrive with additional new features, like a shopping feature or better add-on subscription support, since those are both features we expect to see released soon. If I missed something, or if you have questions, ask them below in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them, or better yet, catch my weekly AFTVnewscast podcast where I talk about this stuff in detail and answer reader questions.

  1. Jared says:

    The Watch ABC app is a steaming pile of excrement! One of the worst out there that I have tried to use on my FTV.

  2. Peter s says:

    Thanks for such a comprehensive update.

  3. Masterblaster says:

    Great job in the article Elias! It is a very comprehensive and imformative.
    Now just ready for the software update…

  4. countersteer says:

    Very great update! Thanks, Elias!

  5. AFTVNewsFan says:

    Very nice overview, Elias. And while it’s an overall good thing that the first-gen Fire TV boxes are finally getting the OS 5 update, it’s a given that there are going to be a whole lot of Fire TV/KODI users who are currently making use of USB storage who are going to be wondering just what the heck happened to their data. The sooner a guide can be written, the better.

  6. Gomoo says:

    Will there be a possibility to add Tidal to AFTV?

  7. Eric says:

    Can we expect an improvement in general performance of ftv1 with fireos5 and by extension to kodi? Thks-

    • AFTVnews says:

      I’ll be testing performance improvements or degradation in detail once the update arrives, but I don’t expect performance to change much.

      • Wonko the sane says:

        I have found jitter and frame dropping to be much worse after the update on the FTV1 on Amazon content.

        Also sound sync seems to be less tight than before and buffering takes longer, even with very fast connections.

        Is there a way of downgrading?

  8. Phil Nabozny says:

    Will the Alexa capability come to the UK, an all devices. The new AFTV has OS5 but no Alexa.

  9. eric says:

    what are the chances the official software update to gen1 OS5 will already be rootable? (like the gen2’s OS5 is right now)

    • Jeff says:

      Right in the article:

      Rbox, the developer/hacker/savior who creates the pre-rooted ROMs for rooted 1st-gen Fire TVs, has said that he plans to release a pre-rooted version of the Fire OS 5 software update so that rooted 1st-gen Fire TV owners can continue updating their devices without losing root access.

  10. clark says:

    Very nice post! Thank you sir!

  11. cdlenfert says:

    Can anyone confirm if the latest version of Kodi will ask for permissions so I can use Kodi to write files to my external USB or SD card? Thanks! Great summary by the way!

    • Billy says:

      Jarvis does. RC1 is fairly stable … Remote works better also.. Uses long press keys for context menu freeing up the limited amount of keys the ftv remote has to begin with

  12. fireSticktv says:

    No News for root the fire stick tv ?
    with exploit cve_2016_0728 ?

  13. atoneapone says:

    Really great information to think about for FTV fire os 5.

    I’m wondering if those of us who leave our rooted AFTVs on Fire os 3, whether we will lose compatibility for our currently installed amazon apps or games? (I don’t expect it to be a problem in the early months but maybe later on in the Fall or next year).

    But if apps do begin stop working, then I’ll definitely update to newer rooted os 5 (I’ve been satisfied with the way it’s been all this time…so hopefully it will be a smooth transition for everyone).

  14. Dave Ninja says:

    Thanks for the info. I still have my original Fire TV rooted so i guess i’ll wait for rbox’s method to update it and stay rooted even though i’m not using root access for anything right now.

  15. Brian says:

    Do you know if it adds mpeg2 encoding? For better use with HdHomerun.

  16. Lori says:

    I love your site/stream! So much good info. I am new to all this computer/tech-root/sideloading business. I was introduced to Kodi with the Raspberry Pi. I did some online digging and realized you could side-load on the fire stick. I have done this successfully on several firesticks (xmas gifts) with and w/o voice remote.
    I was going to try and root my firesticks so that I could block any further updates. In your show notes you said that I don’t need to be rooted for Kodi.
    My question is:
    Do i need to do anything to prevent updates so that my Kodi app stay running smoothly?

    Thank you for your answer :)

  17. Andrew says:

    I am so grateful rbox is continuing to support the pre rooted software updates. Such a relief.

  18. Raymondo17 says:

    Another excellent and thorough article, Elias. Thank you so much. What would we do without ya?

  19. xnamkcor says:

    Can anyone confirm if “developers” will be getting regular updates to their Gen 1 Fire TVs like “non-developers”, or are “developers” stuck on the initial release they got a while ago? Or will they be getting regular advanced releases?

  20. Insider says:

    Do you know if rabbit TV will ever come to the Fire TV? Do you know if you are able to sideload the apk and it will work? Are there any good alternatives available if not?

  21. zeen says:

    Hi, any ftp server app working with write permission on a external USB HD after this update?

  22. Jeremiah says:

    With the possibility of a USB directory/naming change, what does that mean for those of us that rooted and moved our firetv system files to run off the external drive? Will that affect our software booting and running?

  23. Chris Loughrey says:

    Any info in Rbox’s pre-rooted version of this? Doesn’t seem like he made it or found a way to flash it using custom recovery

  24. Blah_blah says:

    1st Gen With Kodi 15.2 and not seeing Kodi in my app section after upgrade to 5.0.5. I do see other side loaded apps. Any other 1st gen owners able to view Kodi? if so, what version of Kodi are you using?

  25. Nick says:

    Has anyone found a way to write to usb on fire os 5? Kodi keeps getting blocked from writing to usb for me….

  26. ullix says:

    I used the FireTV (1stgen) to watch LiveTV and videos via the pvr-tvheadend (and a tvh server in the back). Worked quite well.

    Now FireTV is on FireOS 5.0.5 and access to the tvheadend backend is no longer possible.

    I can watch Amazon videos, and (after some struggle) have adbFire access to the FireTV. I re-installed Kodi (16.0) but to no avail.

    Strangely, after the reinstall tvh-HTSP client 2.1.7 is active, properly configured, no error message, but TV option in the kodi menu. After deinstall of the tvhpvr-client, it is no longer available, only tvh client 2.1.7. Attempts to install this one fails without error message.

    Kodi is not listed under Apps, though Firestartr is. But Kodi can be found under Settings-Apps, and can be started from there.

    Is this a problem of the tvh-client, or Kodi, oer else?

    • ullix says:

      Correction: after the reinstall tvh-HTSP client 2.2.13 (not 2.1.7) is active, but no TV option in the kodi menu

  27. Raider says:

    I’ve been searching for weeks. I can’t save to the USB memory on my FireTV box. Yes, I did update the path. They act as if downloading but not. I’ve factory reset and reinstalled Kodi. Still did not work. Amazon swapped the box out due to audio issues I was having. Loaded Kodi, and again no luck.

    I again have searched and yielded no answers for version 1.

  28. Raider says:

    Found it how to save to USB after 5.0.5 update for fire tv. I found a fix. It’s on another forum. There was info, but was not explicit. http://forum.xda-developers.com/fire-tv/help/write-to-sd-card-fire-tv-t3220730

    Use adbFire:

    1. Connect to your device
    2. Press ADB Shell

    At the prompt “shell@sloane:/$” enter
    mkdir -p /storage/usbdisk/Android/data/org.xbmc.kodi

    Then change the paths for download to /storage/usbdisk/Android/data/org.xbmc.kodi/files.

    I just tested and it worked!

  29. miksnake says:

    any update on a comprehensive guide to updating to the new OS 5 for the original fireTV?

    It would be great to see a guide that walks through the upgrade path and shows also “best practices” or “best setup” for adding USB storage as well–how to set it up and what’s the best use for the storage.


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