How To Install an APK on Amazon Fire TV
Amazon’s line of Fire TV devices are great for so many reasons, and among them are the openness of the platform. Every Fire TV device, be it the $39 Fire Stick or the $119 Fire Cube, run Fire OS, a modified version of Android that allows users to open up the platform in order to make all sorts of changes to the device. So while the Amazon Appstore is filled with apps like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now, you can also use the settings menu of your device to add apps that aren’t traditionally supported by the Amazon Appstore, like YouTube, Kodi, or any other number of apps available online.
In this guide, we’ll be walking you through how to install apps on your Fire Stick, using Kodi as an example. Kodi isn’t listed in the Amazon Appstore as an application you can easily download for regular use. Unlike Google, Amazon takes a more Apple-like approach with their app market, only allowing in certain applications once they’ve been approved for use. While you’ll find Kodi readily available on the Google Play Store, it’s nowhere to be found on Amazon’s platform, having been removed back in 2015 for concerns surrounding piracy. But, like we’ve seen with most of Amazon’s products, it’s easy to use their Android basis as a method against them. Since Android allows for applications to be installed outside of the app store, getting Kodi up and running on your Fire Stick doesn’t take long at all.
These steps are the same regardless of whether you’re installing Kodi or any other app. Just make sure that you have the correct URL for whatever app you’re installing.
Using a VPN
When using sideloaded apps, you’re streaming copyrighted content hosted online. Though some users risk their privacy by choosing to stream pirated content without the protection of a VPN on their device, we highly recommend using a VPN service to protect your data, especially if you’re using one of the less-than-legal services on this list. Though having a VPN on is very rarely the wrong choice, the privacy it adds to your device isn’t needed to enjoy your favorite services regularly. And although we also say that the less information you give internet service providers and online companies, the better, the truth is that a VPN won’t be right for everyone.
In general, your Fire Stick doesn’t necessarily require a VPN. However, if you’ve found your way to this page, it’s probably because you’re using your Fire Stick for something that isn’t a standard application available through the Amazon Appstore. Be it basic piracy apps like Showbox or Terrarium TV, or more complicated applications like Kodi, which allow you to fully load your Fire Stick with a new interface, along with thousands of applications and add-ons to completely change how you watch movies forever. These systems are easy to setup and use, but there’s a big reason why people turn away from them: they aren’t entirely legal. While thousands of users get away with consuming pirated content on the internet every day, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone gets away with piracy. If you’re caught by your ISP, you can land yourself in some hot water, including losing access to your internet or even facing major fines from groups like the MPAA.
So, if you’re looking to consume pirated content on your Fire Stick, the best way to go about keeping yourself safe from getting caught is to use a VPN. Most popular VPNs weren’t necessarily designed with piracy in mind, but they do support keeping your internet use secret so that you can catch up on the latest hit series online without having to pay for cable or subscribe to yet another streaming service. To check out some of our favorite VPNs, check out our guide to using VPNs on the Fire Stick here.
Enabling Your Device to Install Sideloaded Apps
Start by opening up your Fire TV display by waking up your device and holding the Home button on your Fire TV remote to open the quick actions menu. This menu has a list of four different options for your Fire TV: your list of apps, sleep mode, mirroring, and settings. Select the settings menu to quickly load your list of preferences. Alternatively, you can head to the home screen of your Fire TV and scroll all the way to the right along the top list of your menu, selecting the settings option.
Press the down arrow on your remote to move to the settings menu of your display. Fire OS has its settings menu set up horizontally rather than vertically, so scroll through your settings menu from left to right until you find the options for “My Fire TV.” (In older versions of Fire OS, this is labeled as “Device.”) Hit the center button on your remote to load the device settings. For most users, these options are mostly there for restarting or forcing your device to sleep, as well as viewing the software settings for your Fire Stick. However, there’s one option here we need to change before we can move forward. Click on Developer Options from the Device settings; it’s the second down from the top, after About.
Developer Options only has two settings on Fire OS: ADB debugging and Apps from Unknown Sources. ADB debugging is used to enable ADB, or Android Debug Bridge, connections over your network. We won’t have to use ADB for this (a tool included in the Android Studio SDK), so you can leave that setting alone for now. Instead, scroll down to the setting below ADB and press the center button. This will enable your device to install applications from sources other than the Amazon Appstore, a necessary step if we’re going to sideload Kodi onto our device. A warning may appear to let you know that downloading apps from outside sources can be dangerous. Click OK on the prompt and click the Home button on your remote to head back to the home screen.
Downloading the App to Your Device
With the ability to sideload apps enabled on your device, we can finally get around to downloading apps to your device. If you’ve ever used an Android device and had to sideload an application using an APK from a site like APKMirror or APKpure, you can probably see where this is headed. Yes, your Amazon Fire Stick might run a custom version of Android, complete with a custom app store and certain limitations on what can and can’t be installed, but when the underlying operating system is still Android, we can take advantage of the ability to sideload apps and get any app onto your device, whether Amazon wants it there or not.
Of course, to do that, we’ll need to first add the ability to download applications onto your Fire Stick. Amazon doesn’t include a browser with your device, so you’ll have to download a third-party app that allows you to use URLs on your device like a normal phone or tablet. While there isn’t a specific browser application available for download inside the App Store, there is an app that allows you to download content directly to your device.
Using the built-in search function or using Alexa on your Fire Stick remote, search for “Download,” “Downloader,” or “Browser”; all three will bring forth the exact same app we’re looking for. That app is, appropriately, called Downloader. It has a bright orange icon with a down-facing arrow icon, and its developer name is “AFTVnews.com.” The app has hundreds of thousands of users, and is generally regarded as a great application for your device. Hit the download button on the Amazon Appstore listing for Downloader to add the app to your device. You won’t need to keep the app on your Fire Stick after we’ve used it for this installation process, so don’t be afraid to uninstall the app if you’d rather not keep it around.
Once the app has finished installing, hit the Open button on the app listing to open Downloader on your device. Click through the assorted pop-up messages and alerts detailing updates to the application until you’ve reached the main display. Downloader includes a bunch of utilities, all neatly outlined on the left side of the application, including a browser, a file system, settings, and more. That said, the main aspect of the application we need is the URL entry field that takes up most of your display inside the application.
Downloader will allow you to download content from any URL you enter into the app, whether its for Kodi or any other platform. For example, we have a custom URL designed for Kodi below, or you can enter any link you have of your own.
Our custom URL for Kodi 18 Leia is: http://bit.ly/tjkodi18
By entering that URL, or by creating one of your own from the Downloads site linked above, you’ll make it so that your device can automatically start to download Kodi right through your Downloads application. Click the Next button after inputting the link into your device. Your Fire Stick will confirm the link you wish to download from; press Select to confirm the Download option on your device and your download will begin immediately from that URL. Most Kodi APKs are around 80 or 90MB, so expect the download to take 10 to 20 seconds total, depending on the speed of your internet connection. Once the APK has finished downloading, it should open automatically on your device. If you receive a prompt to open the Kodi installer, hit OK.
Installing Your App to Your Device
With the APK now downloaded onto your device, all that’s left to do now is install the app directly onto your Fire Stick. When the installation display for Kodi appears on your screen, you’ll be greeted with a display that alerts you to the information your app can access. For anyone who has installed APKs on Android devices previously, this screen will immediately look familiar; though it’s the Amazon-themed version of the installation screen, it’s still very ‘Android.’ Use your remote to highlight and select the “Install” button and your app will begin to install.
When the installation has completed on your device, you’ll receive a small notification in the bottom-right corner of your display, alerting you that you can press the menu button to open your new app on your device. Alternatively, you can also hit the “Open” button on the installation display to automatically open whatever app you installed.
Jailbreaking your Fire TV device sounds difficult on paper, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The ease of access to adding new content not officially approved by Amazon is basically as easy as installing a few new apps to your device. For just $40 (or $50 for the 4K model), the Fire Stick is one of the best devices you can buy. While it’s unfortunate that the app’s ties to piracy have moved Amazon to delist apps like Kodi from the Amazon Appstore, that hasn’t stopped the ability to sideload any app onto your device.