Amazon recently rolled out a new version of Fire OS for its tablets and while Fire OS 5.6 brings a few new features including support for monitoring smart home cameras with Alexa, app icons in the notification tray and some tweaks to the settings menu, it also partially broke one feature: installation of apps from unknown sources.

In other words, if you wanted to download and install an Android APK that didn’t come from the Amazon Appstore, you had to jump through a few extra hoops in November.

Now Amazon has pushed out a new version of Fire OS 5.6, and it seems to fix the bug.

Once the new update is installed, the “install” button shouldn’t be grayed out when you try to install an app downloaded to your device from outside the Amazon Appstore.

While most Fire and Fire HD tablets will likely receive the over the air update automatically, you might be able to move things along more quickly by opening your tablet’s settings, going to Device Options, and then tapping the System Updates option.

If an update was downloaded recently, you can click “update” to install it. If not, you can choose “check now” to search for available updates,

And if you haven’t already enabled installation of apps from unknown sources, you’ll want to go to the tablet’s Security settings and flip the toggle next to “Apps from Unknown Sources.”

Once that’s done, you should be able to download and install third-party apps and even app stores including F-Droid, Humble Bundle, and even the Google Play Store.

via xda-developers (1)(2)



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14 replies on “PSA: Amazon releases Fire OS 5.6 update, fixes install from unknown sources bug”

  1. This is all well and good but WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO PATCH THE KRACK VULNERABILITY?

    I will never buy another Amazon WiFi-enabled product again, since they obviously don’t seem to care about security!

    1. I’m by no means a security expert, but how can you check for whether the KRACK vulnerability has been patched in this particular update?

      OFF. Is it just me, or the comment section isn’t always loading/showing up?

      1. There’s a work around until it gets fixed. At the top of the comments section, there is a place to sort the comments by newest/oldest/most voted. If the comments aren’t loading, resorting them will load them. The default is “oldest” so just resort them with “newest”.

        1. It wasn’t working this morning when I caught up on the website (might have been before you applied the fix), but it seems to be working now.

        2. Whew! I’ll keep an eye on it. And let me know if you have any more problems.

          I had it set up to “lazy load,” which means the comments would only load when you scrolled down the page to save resources. But that seemed like it may be causing the problem so now it loads the first 10 or so comments and there’s a button to press to load the rest, which should only show up on pages with a lot of comments.

      2. @Ferdinand wrote: “This is all well and good but WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO PATCH THE KRACK VULNERABILITY?”

        @me wrote: “I’m by no means a security expert, but how can you check for whether the KRACK vulnerability has been patched in this particular update?”

        Any update on this? Do you know anything about this?

  2. It’s good to know that Amazon didn’t deliberately cripple side-loading of apps. The tablets may be strictly locked down when it comes to rooting, but allowing the Google Play store to function (albeit with a little fiddling), really makes them a lot more useful for the typical Android user. I bought one to replace my aging Nexus 10, and considering it was only 1/4 the cost (while on sale) while appreciably faster too, I’m more than happy I did.

    1. That’s the exact same boat that I’m in. I recently replaced an aging Android tablet with a newer Fire, and once I side-loaded Play I couldn’t be happier. I have the Fire experience when I want it, and access to the full app store when I want it.

      1. I’m the opposite.
        I no longer care about custom bootloaders, custom kernels, custom roms, and custom governors.

        I just want Stock Android. And I want r00t access.
        That way there’s nothing to stop the OEM from pushing out speedy updates, and for a long-time. I don’t want their skin. I can apply my own lockscreen, launcher, wallpapers, gestures, and theme. And even install my own File Manager, Media Player, and Web Browser.

        1. I can see the concern for stock Android & root access. But if I’m going to bother to be that security conscious, I’d compile my own code instead of install 3rd party apps at all. And I simply don’t have the time or energy for that.

          The Fire is still a good compromise device for those of us who simply want a cheap tablet that works. And the fact that Amazon updates their OS more regularly than most vendors, or doesn’t have root access, are coincidences that do not affect the decisions of most users.

        2. And the few rooted devices I have are basically useless to me for content consumption.

          PSVue and some of the other streaming apps I use have been able to see past every root-hider I’ve tried. And I can’t figure out any way to un-root them. So they (a Nook HD with Cyanogenmod, a slightly older Android TV box, and my GPD XD) have pretty much fallen into disuse, while I absolutely love my Fire and Fire TV devices.

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