VLC pulls their app from Amazon Appstore due to difficulty getting their new version approved

VLC is a very popular open-source media player that first arrived in the Amazon Fire TV appstore back in 2015. The app disappeared from the Amazon Appstore entirely last week because the team behind the app took it down, according to a Hacker News discussion thread. VLC’s developers pulled the app entirely because they haven’t been able to come to a consensus with Amazon regarding an issue with the new version of VLC. Instead of keeping an outdated and buggy version of VLC in the Amazon Appstore, the VLC team decided it would be best to remove the app entirely.

The version of VLC that was previously available in the Amazon Appstore was a buggy beta version of the app. Despite its beta status and known issues, the app was released to Amazon because it solved a major playback issue that existed in the stable version at the time. It seems the VLC team intended to leave the buggy 2.1.1 beta version in the Amazon Appstore as a temporary solution to the playback issue until the improved 3.0 version of VLC was ready for release.

When VLC submitted the new 3.0 version of their app to Amazon, it was not approved by Amazon because it introduced a new bug that caused user-created playlists in the app to be deleted when updating from the 2.1.1 version. VLC was aware of the bug but decided that it wasn’t worth the effort to fix because so few of their users take advantage of the app’s playlist capabilities.

VLC’s team removed playlist functionality all together in the app in hopes of getting the new version approved by Amazon. The slightly crippled version of VLC was also rejected by Amazon because it removed existing functionality that was present in the old version.

It seems that it was at this point that VLC decided to remove their app entirely from Amazon’s Appstore. They would rather not have an app in the appstore at all than to have a buggy beta version as the only available option.

  1. Todd says:

    Why does Amazon get to dictate feature changes made by a developer? Seems like an over reach.

    • Phillip G. says:

      I wouldn’t mind if developers removed features. Apps in general keep getting more and more bloated.

      • AR says:

        are you serious?
        it’s a media player FFS , removing playlist is like removing one of the core functions
        they should have just fixed the bug or agreed to leave the one that deleted playlists when updating but include a message or a wizard to back up the files 1st ,how hard is it for them to include a message or even a wizard to migrate files to the new version

    • Manabi says:

      Yeah, I can understand Amazon objecting to the new version’s bug that caused user’s playlists to be deleted when upgrading, but when the VLC team decided to remove playlists entirely, Amazon over-reached by refusing to let them do so. Amazon could have insisted on something like making the new version a different app ID so that it can’t be upgraded to directly (to make users have to affirmatively opt-in to losing playlist support), but trying to dictate what features the app can/can’t have is too much.

      Can’t say as I blame the VLC team for removing their app from Amazon’s app store at that point. And I won’t blame them if they don’t add it back until Amazon backs down, and apologizes.

      • AFTVnews says:

        It’s in the context of the issue at hand that the version without playlists got rejected.
        Amazon’s goal here is to reduce customer complaints. An app with a known bug that removes user data would result in customer complaints, so it was rejected. Removing playlists altogether would not reduce customer complaints, so they did not see it as an acceptable solution to the initial rejection.

        VLC should have released v3.0 as a new app so it didn’t affect the old app. Then they should have updated the old app to display a one-time message informing users of the new app. That’s the best way to release a new version that is incompatible with features of the old version, which is the case here. The VLC developer said they did not want to release v3.0 as a new app.

  2. xnamkcor says:

    Why did they feel it was ok to release a buggy version back when it was on the app store?

  3. koying says:

    “The slightly crippled version of VLC was also rejected by Amazon because it removed existing functionality that was present in the old version”

    I somewhat doubt it can be the root cause.
    I’d be surprised that there would be an amazon clause saying “you cannot deprecate features” ;)

  4. Hoosiertech says:

    Is there any reason to not just sideload the newest Android version?

    • xnamkcor says:

      If you’re doing that, your better of using MX Player.

      • Brett says:

        Or, spring the couple $$$ for Vimu. Better codec, subtitle and file support than MX Player.

        • Tango says:

          Bought it for $2.75 after tax to test. Works OK. Decent interface. Lots of decoding option settings. Plays files on my USB Flash Drive connected to my Fire Stick Gen. 2 and that’s really all I care about. Plays my MP4 (h.264 + acc) just fine. It can also play music files and display pictures.

    • Tech3475 says:

      There’s the Mr MC argument of the app store being easier than sideloading.

  5. TechyChris says:

    I have always used MX Player, seems a little more stable than VLC and J2 keeps their app up to date. Only drawback,while MX can be downloaded from Amazon to phones and tablets for some reason it must be sideloaded to Fire TVs, easy enough and it just works!

  6. Jeff says:

    VLC sux anyhow, MX Pro is superior. Open MX settings, Decoders, enable the 1st 4 boxes, then open Audio, enable sound boost…Fixes most any sound issue when combined with Real Debrid.

  7. David says:

    At the risk of sounding dumb , what is side loading?

    • Jon says:

      Its the difference between using the Windows Store to install an app and the old school download it from a website and manually install it (more or less).

    • oldmanmonster says:

      Downloading the apk from somewhere other than the amazon appstore and installing it for yourself.

      The aftvnews downloader app is a real boon, in this regard.

    • Pip says:

      here is the URL directly from VLC website to directly download the APK file. I also highly recommend using the aftvnews downloader app for sideloading. The aftvnews downloader app IS available on the Amazon APP store at his location. http://a.co/dTmeGT0

      • Pip says:

        OOPS I forgot to paste the VLC URL

        This is the main VLC for Android URL https://tinyurl.com/mzvv842
        look under the buttons to take you to the different app stores
        This is the direct link to the different APKs https://tinyurl.com/yctbrc8w .

        here is the list of versions from that location.

        The file you need is dependent on which FireTv you have. The SHA files are used to insure the files are complete or un-tampered with. You can Gurgoal how to use SHA.


  8. Pip says:

    Wayne: I applaud your sense of humor, even thou it is only a teensy tiny bit harsh. I hope you have some script to create that link and if you do would you share it. For the record I had to Gurgoal the correct spelling of Teensy.

    David: side loading an app is getting the file you want to load ethier directly from the app writer, or from a 3rd party that has acquired the app file which would end in “.APK”. there many ways to do this the point is all of them are marginally harder to do than just just selecting from the app store and wallah the app is installed.

    For the record Wayne’s answer is the correct one.


    • BobR says:

      What was Wayne’s correct answer? I don’t see it, is VLC still the better choice?

      • Pip says:

        I was try to say Wayne was correct to direct David to look up what side loading is. I also provided the answer to try to be helpful to David.

  9. Wayneg says:

    Actually I didn’t realize that I had actually posted that. I started to add a smiley face and a “sorry, been one of those days” afterwards but the phone rang and then never came back to it. Didn’t intend to be mean, we’re all on different parts of the learning curve.

    As for the script, go here
    And chose shorten link for maximum surprise value!

  10. Sunrise 495 says:

    My wife uses VLC all the time to play yoga workouts that are on a usb stick plugged into a 1st gen. firetv. Looks like VLC is still on the box. Question… Is Amazon / VLC going to reach out and uninstall this “local” app on me one day? Am I going to get that phone call at work… “Its not working” call? Any insight is appreciated.

  11. Billy says:

    If you get the apps 2 fire app from the google play store you can easily sideload many apps. They just show up in a list and you transfer and then its there. For the sideloaded vlc, do i have to use the mouse toggle for fire tv app, or does it have a clickable interface like kodi? Btw I think kodi will play your offline music and video files too.

  12. magearden says:

    Just an update VLC for Fire seems to be back on the Amazon App Store as of a few days ago.

    Also might I offer an alternative to those that want to try something else nPlayer is also available on the Amazon App Store for the Fire TV it’s not free but it’s a great media player with lots of features like connecting to cloud storage services like Box, Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive, etc.

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