Pricing and release information of Amazon’s Fire TV Edition televisions from Westinghouse, Seiki, and Element will probably be revealed soon, since I’m expecting the TVs to be released in June or July. There are some things we won’t know about them until they hit store shelves, but the latest 188.8.131.52 Fire TV software update, which is the first version of Fire OS to have support for the upcoming TVs, has revealed something noteworthy. While digging through the code of the new software version, I’ve found that Fire TV Edition televisions will very likely not require the user to login with an Amazon account, as is required with the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.
One of the first required steps while setting up a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, after configuring an internet connection, is logging in with an Amazon account. The Fire TV line of devices will not function at all without an Amazon account, but that won’t be the case with the Fire TV Edition televisions.
If you choose to not login with an Amazon account on a Fire TV Edition television, it appears it will still function as a “dumb” TV and allow you access to basic features. Within the code of the 184.108.40.206 version of Fire OS is reference to a “Frozen Mode” where an Amazon account is not associated with the device being used. At some point, the following message is displayed to encourage the user to login with an Amazon account:
“Register now with your Amazon account to enjoy thousands of channels, apps and games, and hundreds of thousands of TV episodes and movies.”
It’s difficult to determine precisely which features of the operating system will not function without an Amazon account. Obviously, as the above message implies, an Amazon account will be required to access the Amazon appstore and video library, but I haven’t been able to determine if all apps, including those sideloaded or previously installed from the Amazon appstore, will remain accessible without an Amazon account.
The Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick would make you believe a network connection is required for anything to function, even offline apps, on those devices. When an internet connection is not present, the Home screen goes blank and displays a message directing you to the device’s network settings. However, from within the settings area, you can access and launch any apps, so the device can still be used as an offline Android platform without a network connection.
The same is not true when a Fire TV device is logged out of the Amazon account used to set it up. In that state, a settings pane asking you to login is displayed and the everything else is truly locked out and inaccessible. Since the Fire TV Edition televisions will allow access to the OS and settings while not logged into an Amazon account, it’s possible, and perhaps even likely, that you’ll be able to launch and use previously installed apps, just like you currently can without an internet connection, while not logged into an Amazon account.
Being able to use a Fire TV Edition television without an Amazon account is significant, especially due to the recent issues with Fire TV devices being spontaneously logged out of their Amazon accounts. It would be nice if this same functionality was available on the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, but that’s likely not going to happen anytime soon, due to the subsidized market model of those devices. In addition to several other features, live TV tuner support, the Fire TV Edition televisions will have an advantage, over the set-top box and stick, in this regard.