Homescreen replacement apps (i.e., launchers) are very common in the Android world. They allow you to change one of the fundamental aspects of an Android device by replacing what your device displays when you hit the home button. FiredTV Launcher is the first homescreen replacement app for the Fire TV. It’s purpose is to get you quicker access to your sideloaded apps.
FiredTV Launcher gives you instant access to all the apps on your Fire TV. Whether an app was installed from the official Amazon Appstore or sideloaded, this homescreen replacement lists all your apps in a simple 5 column grid.
Due to the restrictions put into place by Amazon, FiredTV Launcher isn’t a full fledged home replacement for the Fire TV. Traditionally, Android will identify an app as a launcher and ask if you’d like to use it as your default home launcher. FiredTV Launcher can’t set itself as the default launcher, so it has to fake it. Once downloaded and sideloaded onto your Fire TV, the app detects the loading of the Fire TV’s homescreen and immediately launches itself. This method is a bit of a hack, but is currently the only way for an app to launch when you press the home button on your remote. When it works, you’ll see the default homescreen flash for a second followed by FiredTV Launcher appearing.
Launching the app is a bit unpredictable, leaving you unsure of when the app will launch itself. After installing the app, we pressed the home button and the app did not load. After loading it manually, the app started loading itself after pressing the home button. The launcher thankfully includes a “Fire TV” button among the list of apps you have installed which takes you back to the Fire TV’s stock homescreen. Once we were back to the default homescreen, the only way I could get FiredTV to load again was to load it manually. The launcher seems to work best when you stay away from the stock homescreen. If you’re just loading apps and then pressing the home button, the launcher works well.
I personally would much rather have a quick way to launch the app manually instead of the app trying to predict when it should launch. I’m unsure if it’s even possible, but launching the app with a remote long press or pressing home while already on the stock homescreen would be ideal.
The app is in it’s infancy and has it’s share of quirks. For one, selecting the “Settings” icon within FiredTV causes it to crash. I’m not sure if this is meant to load the Fire TV’s default settings screen or a settings panel for the FiredTV launcher itself. That said, I love that this app exists. It’s a bold attempt by its developer to expand the Fire TV’s functionality and we commend that and will be following this apps progression closely.