Fire TV update was halted due to Appstore server load concerns

A week ago, I wrote that it seemed like Amazon halted the software update rollout for the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Then, a few days later, the update rollout was back in full swing. Thanks to information I’ve received from a trusted source, I can confirm the update was in fact halted and then restarted, as well as the reason for the pause. The update was not halted due to an issue or bug with the software itself, but rather, due to the increased load on the Amazon Appstore servers caused by the new Fire TV interface.

The new Fire TV interface arriving with the software update is much more visually appealing than the previous interface. This is not only due to the improved layout, but also due to the use of dynamically changing images. As you navigate around the interface, images change to match the content being highlighted. Each section of the interface also has a large featured area with images and videos to highlight interesting apps and content. To give you another idea of these interface changes, app developers were previously only required to submit an app icon and screenshots when submitting their app to the Fire TV appstore. Now, there are 6 different image assets, used in various parts of the interface, that developers are recommended to include when submitting apps.

Amazon knew the new image rich interface would result in a higher number of server requests, but once Fire TVs began receive the new update, the increased server load they saw was higher than they estimated it would be. They halted the update to investigate whether or not they simply underestimated the increased server load, or if there was a problem with the update that was making unnecessary server requests, similar to the old screensaver bug.

After it was determined that the new software update was functioning correctly, Amazon beefed up their Appstore servers a bit to handle the underestimated load, and resumed the update rollout. This explains why, when the rollout resumed, there was not a new version of the update with a new build number, like we’ve seen in the past when updates have been halted. There was never anything wrong with the software update; just an under estimation of the new interface’s server impact.

  1. Dave says:

    How much data do these new previews use when they start playing their mini commercials? Do they redownload everytime or do they sit taking up space like the amazon screen savers 400mb that I constantly have to delete?

    • TheAlternative says:

      If you’re worried about 400mb or bandwidth use of the new interface, maybe OTT is not for you. To have a quality streaming experience data and bandwidth are a necessity and most regions of the country (in the US anyway) have this level readily and relatively inexpensively available. I welcome the changes.

      SD cards are your friend ;)

      • tech3475 says:

        You forget:
        1) Not everyone may be streaming media over the internet.
        2) Not every device has an sd card slot and 400mb can become a problem even with an sd card e.g. Apps hard coded to use internal storage.
        3) Not everyone likes wasting bandwidth or storage space.
        4) Not everyone has the same internet connection as you.

        I regularly take a fire tv to places with slow internet (hotels) so any wasted bandwith does become a problem.

      • Eric says:

        “in the US anyway”

        The US is the only country I know where traffic caps are common. This is the only reason the screensaver glitch made such a fuss back then.

        So chances are Dave is a compatriot of yours and not willing to pay up for additional traffic just for a “louder” and more annoying UI where video clips are started left and right.

    • you can disable the animated background videos in settings, but the additional graphics will likely still eat your bandwidth.

      if you are pressed for bw maybe don’t keep deleting the screensaver cache? aren’t the images mostly the same anyways? [unless that 400mb is your only breathing room, then i can understand.]

  2. Chris Z says:

    Received the update yesterday. The new UI is much more polished. Overall initial impressions are positive.

  3. Derrick says:

    That seems amazing given that they have the capacity to run the biggest online store on black friday without incident.

    • AFTVnews says:

      It’s not that they didn’t have the capacity to handle the load. It’s that the load was higher than they estimated it would be, so they stopped the rollout to investigate and make sure it wasn’t a bug causing the higher load.

    • Eric says:

      It bears reminding how a cloud works. Per hosted service capacity is lower than with a typical independent server system. A cloud works the better the larger it is, assuming that every given user can visit only one site per moment. So with a cloud that hosts a lot of your top 100 sites the load caused by person x doesn’t vary widely per se when they surf from site to site, hosted within the same cloud. I oversimplify to make this point.

      But when you add additional load on a large scale this well balanced system needs additional capacity or may hit a wall, sometimes in some kind of ad hoc domino effect fashion, e. g. back when the DynDNS attack put some AWS systems offline, which had this almost instant ripple effect of overloading the remaining systems.

      So a cloud can seem adamite when run under well defined specifications but actually is a giant with feet of clay.

  4. Jae says:

    have you noticed after the update things not working such as apps installed on your sd card or things like kodi??

  5. Phil says:

    the update sucks, just shuffling things around doesn’t make it better. Now it’s more clicks to get what I want and My Music is gone! Stupid mistake.

  6. Memin says:

    Kodi is not working properly after the update

  7. Ray says:

    Guys, I have a 1st generation Firetv with a software version 51.1.50_user_515020820 (rooted and updates blocked) that I want to update, how should I go about doing that, there’s so much out there ever since I last did it. Thanks in advance.

  8. MV says:

    After my 2nd gen. FTV received the update, it started acting up. It is now slower, needs more frequent reboots, it will occassionaly fail to wake up from sleep, or freeze during operation. The layout of the new interface is better, but I could care less about that. I rather the FTV works as advertised. There is one major bug in the FireOS. The new Prime Photos app will download data and swell up to take up about the whole internal storage space of the FTV. Every couple of days or so, I have to go in the Settings menu and delete the Data portion of the Prime Photos app. After that, it will once again start to grow and grow in the background until it consumes all the available space in the minuscule 8GB of internal storage in the FTV.

    If anyone knows of a way to brick the Prime Photos app, delete it, block it, disable it, whatever, so that it stops making my FTV useless, I would be eternally grateful. I have spoken to Amazon customer service a couple of times and they don’t have a solution and they don’t even seem to know there is a serious issue with the Fire OS. I posted about this issue in the Amazon forums and one other customer acknowledged the problem.

    This seems to happen only to FTV gen 2 devices and it may be related to the use of Amazon Cloud Drive, so if you store things in Amazon Cloud Drive, and use FTV gen 2, you may be affected by this serious bug.

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