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.
- 1. New Features
- 2. Apps
- 3. External USB Storage
- 4. Rooted Fire TVs
- 5. Miscellaneous
- 6. Possible Extras
The 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.
With 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.
Fire 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.
Fire 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.
Amazon 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.
Fire 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.
Some 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.
Many 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.
USB 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
The 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
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. 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.
One 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 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 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.
With 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 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.
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.