A common issue many Fire TV users run into is running out of internal storage space for their apps and games. Even though it has been nine years since the first Fire TV debuted with 8GB of internal storage, nearly all Fire TV models, including all Fire TV Sticks, still only come with that same 8GB of storage. Worse yet, as Fire OS has increased in size over the years and the number of pre-installed system apps have ballooned in both size and quantity as well, there is now less than 4GB of free space on most Fire TV models out of the box. One solution to the problem that Amazon is working on is simply automatically removing apps you don’t use much, but, thankfully, it seems like it won’t be as ridiculous of a solution as it may initially sound.
Certainly, the best solution to running out of storage space is to simply include more storage from the beginning. While the Fire TV Cube and most Fire TV Smart TVs come with 16GB of storage, all Fire TV Stick models, including the higher-end Fire TV Stick 4K Max, still ship with only 8GB of storage. With two new Fire TV Stick models being announced soon, a lot of people are hoping they will finally be the first ones to go beyond 8GB of storage.
Increasing the internal storage size of future Fire TV models certainly isn’t going to do anything to help the millions of existing Fire TV users facing low storage issues today, but it seems like Amazon is working on a solution that might help. I’ve learned through reliable means that Amazon is working on a new app “offloading” feature for Fire TV devices that works as a middle ground between having an app installed and fully uninstalling the app.
The problem with uninstalling seldom-used apps to free up space and reinstalling them when they are needed is the inconvenience of having to set the app back up again. At the very least you usually have to sign into the app again but some apps also have configuration options that need to be redone as well. Amazon’s upcoming app offloading feature is designed to eliminate that inconvenience while still freeing up internal storage space.
When a Fire TV app is offloaded, as opposed to just uninstalled, the app itself will be removed but the user data of the app will remain on the device. This means that if you reinstall the app in the future, it should, theoretically, be immediately ready to use without you needing to sign in or configure the app. I say theoretically because if the app has been updated in a significant way since you last had it installed, there’s always a chance the newer version of the app might be incompatible with the old user data that was left on the Fire TV when the app was offloaded.
The size of an app generally consists of three types of data: App Data, Cache Data, and User Data. App Data is the actual app itself that is downloaded from the appstore. Cache Data is temporary data downloaded and stored by the app to make it function more smoothly. This can be deleted at any time and the app will remain functional, since the app will just re-download it as needed. User Data includes everything unique to your particular instance of the app, like your login credentials, game state information, and local user settings. Fully uninstalling an app will remove all three data types from your Fire TV but this new offloading feature appears to remove only the App Data and Cache Data.
By choosing to offload an app, instead of uninstalling it, you’ll be trading some internal storage space for future convenience. Many Fire TV apps, especially from streaming services, have very little User Data since all they need to store are your login credentials. On the other hand, some apps, like games, have a ton of user data. This is because game developers don’t want the game to take a long time to initially install so they make the App Data tiny and have the game download the rest of the files needed to play the game when it is first launched, which all gets stored as User Data.
Thankfully, it seems like you won’t need to analyze the different data types of your Fire TV apps manually because the upcoming offloading feature will simply tell you how much storage space you’ll save if you choose to offload the app. When an app is offloaded, it’ll remain in your settings app list so that you can later choose to uninstall it completely if you’d like. You’ll also be able to select if you want your Fire TV to automatically offload apps, as needed, when storage space is low. Fire TVs already keep track of how often an app is used, so, I assume, it will auto-offload large seldom-used apps first.
This new app offloading feature for Fire TVs is currently in development at Amazon. While it seems close to being completed, there’s no guarantee it will actually be released. There have been plenty of Fire TV features tested and even completed that were never actually released. Amazon often includes new features like this on new Fire TV models, so we may see the two upcoming Fire TV Sticks ship with app offloading capabilities before the feature comes to existing devices.