A couple months ago, Amazon updated their Fire TV Remote app with a great new feature that allowed you to launch apps directly. Unfortunately, that new feature is not compatible with the new Fire TV interface rolling out with the 188.8.131.52 software update. Once your device updates to the new interface, you will not be able to launch apps remotely. All other aspects of the remote app still work, but the app grid icon that normally appears in the upper right, next to the keyboard icon, is missing.
On the old Fire TV interface, you had the option to mark apps as favorites. This forced those apps to appear at the front of your list of apps, regardless of when they were last used or installed. The new Fire TV interface has done away with favoriting apps for a much better system that lets you manually rearrange your entire list of apps and games.
If your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick has updated to the new interface, you can no longer directly launch apps from within the Fire TV Remote app because that function relies on the ability to mark apps as favorites. Only apps that you marked as favorites were available to launch, so without app favorites, the feature has to be disabled. Devices running software version 184.108.40.206 and older still have the app launching option.
If Amazon decides to update the Fire TV Remote app and bring back the ability to remotely launch apps, they’ll have to either pull up your entire list of installed apps, or store a list of favorite apps locally on your mobile device. It’s unknown if Amazon plans to do this, but if you’re a diehard fan of launching apps remotely, you should let Amazon know you’d like the feature to make a comeback.
12/14 An Amazon spokesperson contacted me to let me know the ability to remotely launch apps will return in an update to the Fire TV Remote app later this week. See this new post for more information.