Amazon Is Restricting Some Apps on Fire TV

Some apps don’t work anymore after a security update.

Android-based operating systems pushing aside core Android features is nothing new. Huawei is going down that route with HarmonyOS, but Amazon did it first with its Fire OS ecosystem. The operating system is used by Amazon’s Fire TV streaming sticks and TVs, as well as Amazon’s Fire tablets—the company even attempted to make a Fire Phone at one point, but that was a disastrous failure and we don’t talk about it. The latest “improvement” to the OS seems to be restricting basic Android app functionality.

Amazon has blocked the ability for apps to establish ADB (Android Debug Bridge) connections and perform commands on Fire OS. New code shows that if the operating system detects that any ADB actions are being performed in a “local” manner—from the phone rather than from an external computer—they will be denied. When asked about it, an Amazon representative told AFTVNews that “we are aware of reports that some apps have been impacted by a recent security update.” This hints to the fact that it was a deliberate change under the guise of a security update, which is made more evident when you look at the code that actually prevents local ADB actions.

Putting this as a “security change” is a bit weird, to be frank. It is true that ADB access to malicious apps can be disastrous. At the same time, however, access needs to be manually granted before apps can actually do anything with it. If you grant ADB access to an app, you probably know what that app is doing. This also doesn’t restrict ADB usage from an external device, such as a computer, via USB. That’s still an option for sideloading applications and other debugging tasks. This does, however, greatly restrict stuff such as local console emulators as well as apps that perform specific actions by giving themselves specific permissions through ADB.

Fire OS doesn’t have much time left, as Amazon is working on a new non-Android OS, tentatively called Vega OS, which is expected to be used on Fire TV products, smart displays, and potentially other devices. Restricting some Android features could be the first step in a future platform transition.

Source: AFTVNews

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