A small number of Amazon Fire TV devices are mistakenly preventing customers from sideloading apps that are unavailable in Amazon’s official appstore. Amazon has confirmed to me that the issue appears to be related to an internal utility that has incorrectly been activated on retail devices. This sideloading prevention utility, which is meant to prevent testers of unreleased devices from accidentally leaking device information through 3rd-party benchmarking apps, was never supposed to be active on devices sold to regular customers.
A Fire TV Stick customer, posting under the username Chuck37, started threads on the TechKings forum and on Amazon’s official devices forum, stating that he received the following message when he tried to sideload an app onto his device:
Unauthorized apk installation detected. Please do not install performance benchmark apk without permission from firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the original posts, two other Fire TV customers have confirmed seeing the same message, which also prevented them from sideloading apps. As a result of these incidents, false rumors have begun circling among Fire TV communities that Amazon plans to block sideloading on all Fire TV devices.
Amazon has confirmed to me that they are not intentionally preventing app sideloading on Fire TV devices and that they are actively working to resolve the issue. Fire TVs being tested internally have a utility activated that prevents certain apps from being sideloaded in order to prevent leaks of unreleased products. The message being seen by customers, and subsequent sideloading block, is a result of that utility mistakenly becoming active on retail devices.
This is why the message specifically references benchmarking apps, which usually publish their results, as well as device specifications, for anyone to view publicly online. An internal device tester running a 3rd-party benchmarking app is precisely how the 2nd-Gen Fire TV first leaked, so it makes sense that Amazon has since put measures in place to prevent these types of leaks.
Customers who experience this issue should check for software updates, as a new update will resolve the issue. It’s unknown how widespread the issue is, but it does not seem to be affecting many devices.