Leanback Launcher is an Android TV Launcher for the Amazon Fire TV
Amazon competes with Google on a number of fronts, from smart speakers to streaming boxes. (It even had its own smartphone once upon a time.) But the operating system at the heart of Amazon’s Fire tablets and Fire TV set-top boxes is Fire OS, which is based on Android. It even supports a lot of Android’s core features, like the ability to sideload apps and switch between home launchers.
If you’re an Android purist, or if you just aren’t a fan of the Fire TV’s user interface, you’ll be happy to know that you can change the launcher to something different. One excellent choice is Leanback Launcher by XDA Member rockon999: a fully-featured Android TV launcher for Amazon Fire TV devices. It’s as simple and easy to navigate as on Android TV set-top boxes like the Shield TV and Nexus Player — once installed, the top row displays applications that you’ve pinned, and as you scroll down, you’ll see installed applications organized into categories like Video and Music.
Leanback Launcher Features
– Can open Bluetooth and WiFi settings without the stock launcher installed.
– Opens notification center, notification settings, and displays the current amount of unread notifications.
– Can display Amazon-downloaded apps in the store for easy updating and management.
– Can open individual app’s settings.
– Favorites row
– Stripped of all Google services (to prevent crashes!)
Navigation is simple enough. The menu button on the Fire TV remote opes an app menu, and the [+] tile in the favorites row can be used to add apps to your favorites row.
To install Leanback Launcher on an Amazon Fire TV device, you’ll need to have a PC with ADB handy.
Use the command adb install [path] (replace “[path]” with the location of the target Fire TV device on your network).
The next step is optional, but if want the launcher’s notification counter to work, you’ll need to execute this command: adb shell pm grant com.rockon999.android.leanbacklauncher android.permission.WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS.
You have the option of disabling the stock launcher if you’re on Fire OS version 5.2.6 or lower. You’ll want to disable the over-the-air update feature so it doesn’t overwrite your newly installed launcher.
The developer recommends that you install LauncherHijack v3 for a fully functional home button.
Next up, you’ll need to install Google Search version 2.x or newer if you want search functionality up and running. Be forewarned that if try to use the “microphone” orb in the launcher to interact with Google Search, it might crash — use the keyboard orb instead.
Leanback Launcher isn’t perfect. A few niggling issues include the notification counter, which doesn’t always work properly. And you’ll sometimes have to restart the app for the WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS permission to take effect, the developer notes. Still, a completely functional Android TV launcher on Fire TV devices is quite an achievement — and a boon for couch potatoes.
Check out Leanback Launcher in our Fire TV forum