Strong evidence that Amazon has blacklisted FireStarter app by name in latest Fire TV update


There is strong evidence that FireStarter, the alternate launcher that can replace the Fire TV home screen and provide custom remote home button functions, has been explicitly blacklisted, by name, by Amazon. Fire TV and Fire TV Stick owners that have manually installed the unofficial app through sideloading will find that it has been disabled after their devices update to the latest software version. Uninstalling and reinstalling the app will restore it, but once the Fire TV reboots or sits idle for a period of time, the app is once again disabled. Amazon has always rejected apps that “override the native user experience” and blocked their entrance to the official Fire TV appstore, but this appears to be the first time they’ve deliberately targeted and prevented the use of a specific unofficial app.

XDA forum member jkchr1s has discovered that FireStarter is being explicitly disabled by name. After taking FireStarter’s open source code and compiling it into an identical app, but with a different package name, he discovered that the new clone app worked fine on the Fire TV and was not being disabled by the operating system. Some have suspected that FireStarter’s unconventional method of detecting remote home button presses, specifically its exploitation of internal ADB connections, was being detected as malicious behavior, resulting in the app being disabled. In reality, it appears to be far less sophisticated and FireStarter is just being picked out by name.

It’s unclear why Amazon has put FireStarter in its crosshairs. It could be as innocent as wanting to prevent FireStarter’s home button double-press function from interfering with their own newly added double-press feature, or as nefarious as not wanting Fire TV owners to have the option to bypass the Fire TV’s main interface, where Amazon makes money selling digital content and advertisements. I’ve reached out to Amazon for comments but have not received a response.

Many Fire TV owners primarily use FireStarter as an easier way to access their manually installed apps. Now that Amazon has fully supported sideloaded apps as equal citizens to official apps by displaying them in the Fire TV’s “Recent” list and “Apps” section, many FireStarter users have no need for the app. Regardless, it should be the user’s choice. Despite Amazon’s new willingness to support sideloaded apps on the Fire TV, the company dictating which apps can and can’t be used is reason for concern, and makes you wonder which app will make its way to the new supposed blacklist next.

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  1. Max Wagner says:

    Could KODI eventually become a target in the same way?

    Could Amazon specifically “blackball” loading any version of the KODI program?

      • Adh says:

        One thing is kodi is a genuine app and not illegal in anyway plus it doesn’t block any advertising or manipulate the home button menus. Amazon could be in hot water if they do block kodi and not other apps like Netflix.

        • Y314K says:

          They already kicked kodi out of their App Store. They are waiting for the right time to block it on their devices. This will happen as soon as they think they can get away with it.

          • Da Truf says:

            They could easily get away with it now. The reason they don’t is because the percentage of fire tv owners that install Kodi is minute. Blocking Kodi would cause bad press but have zero affect on bottom line. There is no “getting away with it,” there is just Amazon not being a d*** about people doing what they want with thier own hardware. If Apple lets people sideload now that pretty much means everyone has to, at least in the eyes of super users.

    • Matt says:

      I don’t think Amazon would do that they are 33% of the market

      • Matt says:

        Plus if they block Kodi all together they wouldn’t make the profits that they’re making today on their fire devices let’s face it we don’t buy them to order their movies in the first place

        • Mark says:

          I don’t own three fire tvs because I care about amazon content. I’m sure they have some way of seeing what owners do with the box.

          • Eugene Stilianopoulos says:

            I agree i like Amazon Prime. It’s a good product. Watching a 1080p on Amazon Prime will always be better than a Kodi addon. Amazon has bigger files and more stable servers.

    • Steve says:

      If amazon blocked kodi they probs wouldnt sell another firestick or box as most ps3s ps4s and all smart tvs can get amazon tv on them anyway

  2. mdpauley says:

    I found the SQLite db once before where purchased apps are kept. I would guess that there is a file for blacklisted apps also.

    • mdpauley says:

      @ATVNews in /data/data/ there is a database called blocked_apps.db. Maybe a XPOSED mod that keeps the database empty would be helpful.

  3. boudyka says:

    Well since I have a Amazon subscription and if Kodi is banned, I will probably vote with my feet, the same as most of you!

    Amazon better be careful as us “wire-cutters” already have been through this with the cable/dish networks, and can source the cream of their content elsewhere, I would like to pay Amazon in the first instance, but I am quite happy to pay any other willing provider, if Amazon continue to be an ass.

  4. Gary says:

    is kodie having trouble working

  5. Y314K says:

    They did not just target the package name… Looks like the tried to fully cripple FireStarter thru shell adb access…

    “On top of that, they removed adb from the device to prevent home press detection. Android natively throttles activity launches on home press from activities not blessed as the active launcher. This is why the fallback method has ~ 5 sec delay. Using adb locally on the device is a loophole because this puts you as the “shell” user (who does have permission to launch activities at any time).”

    “adbd (the adb server on the device) is still present. You can connect via adb as you always could from a computer, but the shell user is more restricted than in the past.

    The adb executable on the device (which was being used to workaround the home button activity launch throttling) no longer exists in the /system/bin directory.”

    The funny part is that FireStarter DOES NOT interfere with their new features. No matter what FireStarter settings you try the My Apps List loads up when you double click home.

    Debating to whether to start calling/chatting with Amazon everyday as to why FireStarter is now disabled. Maybe if Prime members started canceling their accounts & listing FireStarter as the reason why, then Amazon would pause their gamble.

    • AFTVnews says:

      I don’t think removing the internal ADB utility was done as a direct jab at FireStarter. It really shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Having it present invites developers to use it, which is bad practice and very hacky. Google has removed it from Android 6.0 and up so it was inevitable that Amazon would remove it as well. They just did it a little earlier than expected.

      To clarify for those wondering, connecting to the Fire TV via ADB has not been removed. That uses an ADB server (adbd) that is still present on the Fire TV. What has been removed is the ADB client that was on the Fire TV. This allowed apps to internally make ADB connections as if they were an external device connecting in.

  6. urgan says:

    I’m not going to defend Amazon too much, but considering Fire TV products are essentially a subsidised product it seems fair that they might want to keep people from bypassing their ecosystem.

    Could have been a lot worse……..

    • TechyChris says:

      Not sure what you mean by “subsidized” I paid my $100 (actually $200 since I purchased 2). I saw no T.O.C.’s that mentioned renting the box, I own it outright. If I want to paint it blue that’s my choice.
      The way I see it, Amazon is deliberately vandalizing something you own! Going into private homes , like a thief in the night and stealing your property (namely apps, whether purchased for cash money or purchased for free) How would you like to wake up in the am to find out that Amazon took your living room furniture and rearranged the rest because it didn’t fit their perfect world?

      No difference that it’s electronic media. Time for a CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT I think!

      • urgan says:

        I’m sort of going by discussions here –

        In it, the author states “Like it or not, the Fire TV is essentially a subsidized product which, some would say, Kodi users slightly take advantage of.”

        I always thought that was the case with a rather cheap device with very good specs. Also, I’m confused how you purchase something for free?

        Anyway, good luck with the lawsuit.

        • TechyChris says:

          Have you ever purchased an app from amazon that cost $0.00?
          We all have.
          It does not matter that no cash exchanged hands, you bought the app and received the app into your home via the internet.
          You now own it. Amazon is now stealing it from you. This issue has nothing to do with Kodi. It is the principle of it. What if Amazon decides to “take back” half of your other apps, would you sit back and do nothing? Not picking a fight here, just setting the record straight.

          • Matt Kissell says:

            INcorrect. Most TOS for software explicitly states that you DO NOT ACTUALLY OWN, the software, even though you paid.

      • Pete says:

        You license use of software/apps you don’t own them. You do own the hardware but the software, including the OS that runs on the hardware you own, is licensed for use not owned.

        • TechyChris says:

          I still say it’s a slippery slope. I own the hardware but if Amazon makes software changes that directly affect how that hardware was expected to function to the original purchaser….

          Let’s say you buy a Corvette that can go 160 mph, you bring it in for service and Chevy decides to mess with the onboard computer and now that Corvette can only go 50mph… do you still want it? I know I’m waaay off topic but the analogy is not that far fetched.

          Yes I misspoke before about app toc’s, I meant more in terms of changing the function of an app you “acguired” (I won’t say purchased!)if it was dramatically altered or made inoperable wouldn’t you want a refund or some compensation?

      • Mark says:

        “vandalizing”? PROVE it in court. Updating software is one thing. Committing a felony by B&E is another.

      • Christopher says:

        That’s so very true we purchased the stick they got there money for the product its not there worry what I add to my stick after while the sales will drop

  7. DeanR1977 says:

    Jkchris a forum member has just had some news regarding a workaround on xda forums, look here -

  8. TechyChris says:

    Has anyone been able to block the new “https” address via a Verizon Fios Actiontec Router? I am currently blocking via adb connection (method 2) and that seems to be holding. I have been blocking via my router(method 3) using the original 3 “http” addresses but I know that is no longer reliable. When I try to enter the new address ‘” my router says “must enter a valid address”. I am able to enter the address as “block by key words” but I do not think that will work. Thanks.

  9. William Hughes says:

    In any case 75% of us use the Fire TV for Kodi. I only subscribe to Prime because I want Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Kodi on one Streaming Box. If Amazon even considers Blocking Kodi in any capacity, That 75% will drop Amazon like a pair of dirty panties.

    • Justin says:

      75%?? Any way to back that up. My guess is 10% at most. Very few Prime users likely want or are able to keep up with Kodi maintenance.

      • William Hughes says:

        No, but you certainly know what I mean.

      • vulcan195 says:

        I don’t use Kodi – don’t have any use for Kodi. I value security greatly and I am perfectly fine using FireTV as is. Moreover, with so much content available via streaming services (hulu, netflix, amazon, HBO etc.) … there is no incentive in playing locally archived content. Note – I have no data cap on my internet.

  10. William Hughes says:

    I forgot to add something. Kodi has not been targeted yet except the removal of the app. My post was to point out that it better not happen to Kodi because I truly believe it would definitely hurt Amazon if they would disrupt Kodi in any way.

    • vulcan195 says:

      I think Amazon has seen a large influx of ex-Apple ex-Roku folks embracing the Fire TV platform. These folks have no clue what Kodi is. Amazon figures that courting them is more financially beneficial than the Kodi folks.

      • Jeff_C says:

        You may be right vulcan195 but I made a conscious decision to buy 2 Fire TV boxes and a stick in the knowledge that XBMC/KODI runs on them. I use XBMC for playing my NAS based music collection. I value the hardware (particularly the boxes with S/PDIF audio out) more as music players than as streaming video devices even though I am a Prime member.

        I would hate to see KODI banned from Fire devices, and am seriously considering how to protect the boxes at least from any future updates which may thwart the use of XBMC.

  11. William Hughes says:

    I made a comment, that is all. You guys know that alot of people use the Fire TV for Kodi. I don’t care if you guys use it or not. That is not relevant, I use Kodi and there are many others that use it to. Let me rephrase. IT IS MY OPINION THAT IF KODI GETS DISRUPTED IN ANY WAY THAT MANY CUSTOMERS WILL DROP AMAZON LIKE A PAIR OF DIRTY PANTIES. Is that better?

    • Justin says:

      And Amazon won’t care. They’ll be happy if you get something else to run Kodi on (there are several options, Pi is just as cheap). Amazon’s business model is obviously just not to sell the box/stick, so they weren’t making money off you anyways.

      • greelee says:

        What you probably don’t realize though is that the people buying the stick to use Kodi – also buy other things on amazon through the stick. So they would be losing a LOT of extra revenue. And if you don’t think that many people are buying the stick mainly for kodi, just go over to ebay and type in firetv and kodi into the search. There are buyers selling thousands of them per week.

  12. granman says:

    It’s certainly unfortunate that FS has been banned but clearly it does circumvent one of the core business tactics Amazon has for the FTV and thus a rational move on their part. However, I do hope the FS devs fix the issue because I much prefer it to the FTV homepage.

    As to Kodi, although many FTV owners (like myself) use Kodi I would hazard a guess that it is minor (if not micro) to the general FTV population and Amazon could probably care less and probably would have no reason or desire to cripple Kodi use.

    The issue is that FS allows us to avoid the FTV homepage and thus the advertising/ease of buying/etc. I think Amazon sees FS (and others of it’s kind) will hurt it’s sales of content, while Kodi doesn’t really do that, at least not as obvious. We use Kodi, Netflix, Prime, Hulu at our house with or without FS. But on the devices that have FS, we do avoid the recommendations and other ads that Amazon tosses our way. So again, I can see why Amazon is doing it. Not happy about it, but totally understand the business reason.

  13. William Hughes says:

    Very Good Article Granman. Thank you.

  14. Spotmark says:

    A “working” modified Firestarter has been posted on FB. It installs, and remains after reboot, but the home button settings don’t work. Still a work in progress, hopefully they’ll get it straightened out soon.

  15. Infamous says:

    Rooted mine as soon as I could and blocked updates internally. For me that stops anything else from changing. Firestarter should not have been taken away from a scene that has been very giving to ATF and I’m glad I can still use it.

  16. Eric says:

    Shouldn’t they be adding value add updates to their product instead of removing features from a niche based market?

    Seems like a poor use of developer time.

  17. Will Hofmann says:

    I made a mod if anyone wants it, and no its not a spam or ad link. I take no credit for making the app only the mod. Enjoy! FTG = Fire TV Guru.

  18. Christopher Loughrey says:

    I wonder if Rbox will be able to address this blacklist for pre-rooted versions of future updates?

  19. Joe says:

    I liked FireStarter to be able to customize the home screen. I also really liked the ability to update kodi. I hope they are able to at least reincarnate FireStarter as a kodi updater app.

  20. Christopher Loughrey says:

    It’ll be only a matter of time before they blacklist Kodi too. This is why I encourage people to root their devices so they can have time to see the affects of updates before it’s imposed on them. I never buy Fire TV products until a root method opens up. I can understand why Amazon does it though.

    It’s only 90 bucks compared to the 140 and 170 bucks that Roku and Apple respectively charge for their boxes, so we can assume that given Amazon’s superior hardware over the others at a fraction of the price, they are selling it at a subsidized price that they lost profit on but hope to recuperate through the sale of their Prime and other digital content.

    I have been talking to a few of the guys on XDA and two of them have found a way to restore it but are not releasing the modified Firestarter out of respect for the developer Sphinx so that he can have a chance to address his own app officially.

    Hopefully Rbox is attuned to the issue and takes it into consideration when he creates pre-rooted versions of these future apps.

    • Will Hofmann says:

      I posted it, the app is open source, I only changed the name still left all his stuff on the inside.

  21. Neogeo71 says:

    once it updates to the new firmware, can we then still use adb to turn off future updatrs or has that been closed off in the new firmware? I personally do not mind losing firestarter and prefer to have Kodi on the main page. I would like to turn off updates afterwards though. any ideas?

    • Snaver says:

      How do you get Kodi on the Main Page?
      How do I start Kodi without firestarter?

      • Neogeo71 says:

        ok, i updated to new firmware, I uninstalled FireStarter prior to updating the FireTV firmware…

        I had to go into my list of apps from Amazon on Amazons webpage from my computer browser and delete Kodi from Android Apps and Devices>Your Account > Your Apps and Devices. If you did not have Kodi from Amazons official store when it was available, before they removed it form appstore, skip this step.

        Kodi now shows up under Recent after being launched.

        Once I did that, I disabled future updates using “Method 2” from AFTNews located here:

        Everything else seems to be working fine.

      • The Unchosen one says:

        Open it once and it will be in your recent section. To open it the first time, just go to your apps section and open it. Essentially firestarter isn’t “needed” at this point, though most of us prefer it.

  22. Darren says:

    Yep, one of my firetvs got the update. Firestarter no longer shows up on the device under manage your apps or anywhere you can look without a file explorer. My other firetv still has firestarter on it and working…. for now….

  23. Bill says:

    Fire starter, IMO, is one of the most useful apps I have on my AFTV. Not only does it simplify launching and updates, but it allows me to use the box the way I want and see what I feel is most useful for my implementation. Removing this functionality and telling me what my UI has to look like (and how I have to navigate) greatly reduces the value of the product. This my box and I want to use it the way I like.

  24. Y314K says:

    So here is the APK mod by Jkchr1s that I tested yesterday. Out of respect for Sphinx02 (Developer of FireStarter)Jkchr1s was waiting to hear from him before posting it for everybody. Since it’s taking longer then thought he has decided to post the working APK. Don’t worry about the name of the APK. It will show up as FireStarter v3.2.3 just like before. You can install Kodi/SPMC just fine.

    First use ES Explorer to uninstall the banned FireStarter before installing this one. You do that thru Home/Category/Apps. Then choose FireStarter & uninstall. Then install Jkchr1s APK. Please read the posts in the links to know what is working & what is missing.

    This was a post with my experience of the current working APK.

  25. rich says:

    If they black listed kodi the amount of firestick sales would dramatically drop ! An I think Amazon know this there not daft ..sales are very high for this low budget high profit stick

  26. Dee says:

    Love the device no matter what happen, but I highly doubt they block Kodi.

  27. Gareth Price says:

    Now if Amazon were to change the “Apps” section to a Grid format instead of the present (terrible) scrolling one, then that would go some way towards alleviating the pain.

    Just throwing that in on the offchance someone from Amazon is looking in ;)

  28. Mike says:

    So I have 3 fire TVs. Got the new amazon update..kodi shows up in recent on Amazon menu on 2 but not the third fire TV. Opened kodi, still doesnt show. Am I going to have to uninstall and reinstall kodi for it to show up ? miss firestarter already

    • mike says:

      nevermind, i figured it out. one fire tv that didn’t show kodi in recents was under my wife’s name..she downloaded the kodi app from the amazon store a while back when they used to provide it. logged into her account, deleted kodi from her my apps for that fire tv device. synched the fire tv and it is now in recents

  29. Goodhur says:

    Wile trying to find an alternative launch app (before the patched app), I tried HALauncher and Firedtv. Both apps appear blocked unless cloned.

  30. Eugene Stilianopoulos says:

    I don’t mind the Amazon content but it uses up a lot of RAM The Firetv is allegedly 2 GB with 1.5gb of working ram. But when i use Kodi its normally at 400-650mb of RAM.

  31. Matt says:

    How do I get to my apps now fire starter is disabled? Do I now need a Amazon account?

  32. NoOnesPawn says:

    Confirmed. Firestarter disappeared with Fire OS update this morning. I couldn’t even re-install Firestarter until I renamed the package using refactor and built a self-signed app. All’s good now. Some complaints about ADB at launch, but otherwise works.

    Config –

    FireTV Stick
    Android Dev Studio 1.5
    SDK Platform Android 5.0.1 API Level 21

  33. ????? says:

    I haven’t read all the posts & this has probably been said already but there are better & cheaper alternatives to an amazon firestick/tv box where you wont get mucked around by amazon updates. Usually when you by something you can do what you want with it (or so I thought) but obviously not an amazon firestick. They can poke that.

  34. Adam says:

    They’ve also banned Xfinity TV Go as far as I can tell. The app runs but it does not show up in recent apps unlike Kodi and other sideloaded apps…

  35. The Last BoysKout says:

    Here’s my take on the this. #1 Firestarter was really just an easy way to get to Kodi. #2 Amazon ain’t no DUMMY. They blocked Firestarter because it created limited visibility and access to Amazon movies, apps, etc AKA MONEY! If users are simply hitting HOME to get to Kodi, then there’s little or no exposure to Amazon’s second stream of income off FireSticks, because I don’t think it’s a secret that KODI IS THE #1 REASON why the FireTV Stick is so popular.

    Smart move. Checkmate. Eliminate the middle man (app). Problem solved.

  36. Riff-Raff says:

    The real reason that Amazon has now disabled FireStarter is because, Millons of fireStick owners that have fireStarter sideloaded on their sticks have never had to register them through the Amazon pages.In other words,stick owners would fire up their sticks bypass Amazon and go directly to Kodi.With the new OS you can’t bypass the Amazon pages directly,(meaning your stick is registered)once your’e in the Amazon home pages then you can use fireStarter or Kodi with no problems.

  37. Kodi user says:

    For everyone who saying they got the fire stick to use neflix hulu amazon prime. U better off getting regular cable..when you add up tge monthly subscription for each media. You roughly paying 40+ a month better off getting dish

  38. Adrian A says:

    I know it’s 3 months after the fact. But I was able to uninstall firestarter using my adb connection and re-installing it. Still working.

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