Many Fire TV Stick 4K owners were holding out hope that the new Fire TV interface update that started rolling out to their devices last week would bring with it an update from Fire OS 6 to Fire OS 7. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. When the new interface arrives on a Fire TV Stick 4K, it moves it from software version 126.96.36.199 to version 188.8.131.52, which keeps it on Fire OS 6.
The new Fire TV interface is independent of the Fire OS version on the device and does not require an upgrade to Fire OS 7, the latest version of Amazon’s operating system, to be compatible with the device. Fire OS 5, like on the 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick, Fire OS 6, like on the aforementioned Fire TV Stick 4K, and Fire OS 7 devices, like on the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube and 3rd-gen Fire TV Stick, are all compatible with the new Fire TV interface. Based on the updates that have already reached devices, it seems safe to say that the new interface update will not change the base version of Fire OS that is currently on the device.
While there are numerous Fire TV models running Fire OS 5 and numerous Fire TV models running Fire OS 6, it seems like the Fire TV Stick 4K was the main one people were expecting to be upgraded to Fire OS 7. That’s likely because it is the only stand-alone model in Amazon’s current Fire TV lineup that is not running Fire OS 7. Amazon has given no indication that the Fire TV Stick 4K, or any Fire OS 6 device for that matter, will ever be updated to Fire OS 7. Furthermore, we continue to see brand new Fire TV Edition television models being released with Fire OS 6, as recently as last month, so Amazon is clearly not treating Fire OS 6 as an outdated operating system.
Unlike other Android device manufacturers, Amazon does not use the base OS version as a determining factor for which features the device will receive. For the most part, Amazon maintains the same feature set across all Fire TV devices, regardless of whether they are running Fire OS 5, 6, or 7. Because of this, there is little benefit, with regard to Amazon’s own features, to upgrading from one version of Fire OS to another.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about 3rd-party apps and services. As we saw recently when NBC Sports ended support for Fire TV devices running Fire OS 5, non-Amazon apps and services do often base their support on the underlying version of Android, as is common practice among most Android app developers. Fire OS 5 is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop, which debuted in 2015. Fire OS 6 is based on Android 7.1 Nougat, which debuted in 2016. Fire OS 7 is based on Android 9 Pie, which debuted in 2018. Thankfully, the instances of a major app or service ending support for an older version of Fire OS are few and far between. I also don’t know of any app or service that stopped supporting Fire OS 6.
The primary benefit of upgrading a device from one version of Fire OS to a newer version, as I see it, is increasing the device’s lifespan by staving off abandonment from 3rd party apps and services. For the most part, upgrading the version of Fire OS on a Fire TV device would not add significant new features or capabilities. The biggest exception to that, which I’m aware of, is support for Dolby Atmos audio in Netflix, which is currently only supported on Fire OS 7 devices. It’s assumed that if the Fire TV Stick 4K is updated to Fire OS 7, it will gain Dolby Atmos support in Netflix, which would be a significant perk. That said, it’s also safe to assume that an upgrade to Fire OS 7 would also hurt overall performance a little, due to increased system requirements that inherently come with newer versions of Android.