[Update: Not Nougat] Amazon updates its 2017 Fire tablets to FireOS 6 based on Android 7.1 Nougat
Amazon Fire tablets are most popular for their dirt-cheap pricing and accessibility. The software inside them, while based on Android, is a long shot from the Android experience you’ll find on other devices. For one, Amazon doesn’t bother with Google Play certification, which means that they have greater control over open-source Android without having to follow Google’s guidelines. They can ship whatever Android version they want, and their software is heavily customized. Now, Amazon is updating its 2017 lineup of Fire tablets (7th-Gen Fire HD 10, Fire HD 8, and Fire 7) to FireOS 6, which is based on (brace yourselves) Android 7.1 Nougat. Yes, that one.
Android Nougat was released almost 4 years ago, in 2016, and brought with it several improvements for its time. Right now, though, it is a greatly outdated operating system: we’ve seen the release of Android Oreo (8.0/8.1) in 2017, Android Pie (9) in 2018, Android 10 last year, and Android 11 is already in the developer preview stage and will be rolling out to devices later this year. Amazon themselves have also used newer Android versions: the 2019 Fire HD 10 is running Android Pie.
The fact that Android 7 is rolling out to devices in 2020 might thus seem like satire at best, but in Amazon’s defense here, Fire tablets are mostly just aimed for media consumption. They sell for low prices, have really weak specifications, and they don’t even feature Google Play, so Amazon really has little need to keep these devices up to date at all besides critical security vulnerabilities. Plus, these are also older models, and it’s better to roll out an old version of Android than just leaving them on the software they were running, which was Android Lollipop–that launched in 2014, a whopping 6 years ago, and developers have started to drop support for it.
Anyway, if you want to grab this update, it is now rolling out in waves, so be on the lookout.
Update: Not Nougat
Unfortunately, it seems the latest Fire OS update for 7th generation Fire tablets was incorrectly labeled. Amazon listed the update as “Fire OS 18.104.22.168,” and Fire OS 6 is based on Android Nougat. However, upon installing the update, users have discovered it’s actually Fire OS 22.214.171.124, which is based on Android 5.1 Lollipop. Only a few system applications have been updated, nothing more.