The Amazon Fire Stick is an incredible piece of streaming hardware, and one of our favorite streaming boxes on the market today. For only $39.99, you gain access to an incredibly powerful piece of hardware, capable of streaming 1080p video from Netflix, Amazon (of course), Hulu, HBO, Showtime, Sling, and more. Nearly every content provider you can imagine has their application on the Fire Stick, save for Apple and Google, but overall, Amazon offers one of the most cohesive streaming packages on the market today. Not just that, but thanks to the remote that has an Alexa button built into the device, you can summon entertainment, including movies, TV shows, music, games, and more straight from your remote just by using your voice. It’s an incredibly powerful device for a low-cost of entry, combined with some of the best apps in entertainment today. What’s not to love?
Of course, for some, the Fire Stick is simply a means to an end. Some media streamers use the device to sideload Kodi onto their device. Kodi, for the unfamiliar, is a powerful media streaming platform that allows you to add all sorts of sources and repositories to your device, making it easy to stream all of your favorite content right from one device without having to deal with artificial limitations from Amazon. For just $40, the Fire TV is an excellent deal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t modify it. Unlike platforms like the Apple TV, it’s pretty easy to get Kodi up and running on the Fire Stick, making it a great video streamer for anyone who’s willing to put in the associated work to sideload Kodi as an Amazon TV application. Since Amazon’s Fire TV platform is running on a modified version of Android, complete with Amazon’s own Appstore for downloading content, apps, and games, getting Kodi onto your device only requires an internet connection, some patience, and fifteen minutes of your time.
The Fire Stick might be a much cheaper device than the Apple TV or the NVidia Shield TV, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to get just as much content out of your favorite platform. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get Kodi up and running on your device so you can get back to doing what really matters: relaxing while streaming your favorite television shows and movies on a Friday night. Here’s how to use Kodi with the Amazon Fire Stick.
What is Kodi?
Chances are you’re familiar with Kodi if you’ve come looking for tips on installing the app on your Amazon Fire Stick. That said if you’re unfamiliar with Kodi, you should know it’s one of the internet’s favorite open-source media players. Originally launched over fifteen years ago as XBMC, Kodi works as a media center and home-theater PC client, allowing you to stream and watch content anywhere from around the world. Kodi has a fantastic interface, a great theming engine complete with tons of options, preferences, and appearances, and the ability to add applications from multiple sources using software repositories. This makes Kodi one of the most powerful media streaming applications available online, especially in a post-Windows Media Center world, and if you’re looking for something with plenty of power behind it, Kodi is the app for you. The app is available on dozens of different platforms including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and even Raspberry Pi.
If you’re still not sure if Kodi is the right platform for you, let’s put it this way: Kodi allows you to access all your favorite content, both through Apple and through other means, on one device. You can access videos, music, podcasts, and more, all directly from the internet. Meanwhile, Kodi also makes it easy to play back media files from your local storage and over your network, making it easy to stream content wirelessly that Amazon may not approve of streaming on their boxes. That said, with mainstream add-ons including options for Netflix, Spotify, and YouTube, you can pretty easily use Kodi to replace the entirety of Fire OS on your platform, instead switching over to streaming content through Kodi. We also, of course, have to address the elephant in the room: Kodi allows users to stream pirated content and TV streams, and while both Kodi and the writers at TechJunkie don’t support the use of a HTPC platform for illegal content, it’s a feature that millions of people use Kodi for all around the world.
Sideloading Kodi Onto Your Fire Stick
For obvious reasons, 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. This method was tested on the newest 2016 Fire Stick with Alexa. We’ll be using screenshots from version 22.214.171.124 of Fire OS and Fire TV Home Version 126.96.36.199-264, complete with the newer 2017 user interface.
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 “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 Kodi to Your Device
With the ability to sideload apps enabled on your device, we can finally get around to downloading Kodi 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 Kodi 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 a specific URL that you enter into the application, making it easy to get the APK directly onto your device. You have two different options here to download the Kodi APK: first, you can download Kodi using our shortened link below, which will automatically download Kodi 17.4 Krypton, the newest version of Kodi as of writing.
Alternately, you can head over to the Kodi Downloads site here, click on the Android option, right-click “ARMV7A (32-BIT)” and copy and paste that link into the link shortener of your choice; we recommend bit.ly, for its custom link options that make it easy to make something that can be inputted into your device, though goo.gl, Google’s link shortener, will also work here. Without a link shortener, you’ll have to enter a long URL using just your remote, so we recommend doing either of these two options above.
Our custom URL for Kodi 17.4 Krypton is: http://bit.ly/KodiFireStick
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 Kodi to Your Device
With the APK now downloaded onto your device, all that’s left to do now is install Kodi directly onto your device. When the installation display for Kodi appears on your screen, you’ll be greeted with a display that alerts you to the information Kodi 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 device will begin to install Kodi. Kodi itself is a fairly large application, so allow it some time to install on your device; in our installation, the process took about thirty seconds total.
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 Kodi on your device. Alternatively, you can also hit the “Open” button on the installation display to automatically open Kodi. You’ll be greeted with the Kodi start-up screen, and once Kodi is finished setting itself up after its first boot, you’ll be at the main display. From here, you can add repositories, view movies stored on your network, and more. The best part of this: unlike with devices like the Apple TV, you can always return to the standard Fire TV home screen by pressing Home on your remote. Basically, you get the best of both worlds, with both Kodi and Fire OS apps coexisting peacefully on one platform.
Moving Kodi to the Front of Your Apps List
Now that you’ve installed Kodi onto your device, you’ll want to make sure it’s easily accessible on your home screen with Fire OS. To do this, head back to your main home screen by pressing the Home button on your device, then pressing and holding Home to load the shortcuts on your Fire Stick. Click on the Apps shortcut to load your list of applications. At the bottom of this tiled list, you’ll find Kodi. Since it’s your newest app, it’s automatically placed at the bottom of the list, but that makes it difficult to access from your main display unless it’s in your recents tab, which it may not always be. So instead, we’ll have to move Kodi to the front of your app list in order to make it easier to access from the main menu.
To do this, move to the bottom of your list and make sure the Kodi tile is highlighted. Then, click the Menu button on your remote (it’s the horizontal triple-line icon) to view your options for the app. You’ll see three options: Move, Move to Front, and Uninstall. Though you can move the app to wherever you want by tapping “Move,” we recommend just bumping the app directly to the front of your app list. This will place it directly on your home screen, in the first listing on the “My Apps and Games” list.
Kodi is an incredibly powerful platform, both on its own and especially on your Fire Stick. For just $40, you can pick up one of the best streaming devices on the market while also sideloading Kodi for outside streaming content, internet TV, and more. While it’s unfortunate that the app’s ties to piracy have moved Amazon to delist Kodi from the Amazon Appstore, that hasn’t stopped the ability to sideload Kodi onto your device. The combination of Kodi and the Amazon Fire Stick has become incredibly popular over the world, and it’s easy to see why. And with the ease of access for getting Kodi onto your device, installing the app is really a no-brainer.