Amazon recently banned the updated Launcher Manager 1.1.8 app designed to customize Fire TV remotes. But the developer has acted quickly to introduce a new workaround, reigniting the cat-and-mouse game between Amazon and the modding community.
As an avid Fire TV user myself, I‘ll walk you through everything you need to know about this ongoing situation. I‘ll provide some background, explain how to install the new version yourself, discuss Amazon‘s motivations, and look at alternatives if Launcher Manager disappears forever.
A Brief History of Fire TV Mods and Bans
The Fire TV platform has always had an active community of enthusiasts seeking to customize and optimize the experience. Apps like Launcher Manager and Wolf Launcher have existed for years to remove ads, remap buttons, and personalize the interface.
However, Amazon has grown increasingly hostile toward this kind of tinkering over time. They want full control over the Fire TV environment to promote their own content and ads. Here are just a few examples of previous mods that Amazon rendered useless:
ADBTool restricted access to developer settings – Broken by a Fire OS update in 2017
Fire TV Stick Root method allowed sideloading apps – Blocked via firmware update in 2019
Various Fire OS forks offered ad-free experience – Shut down by legal action in 2021
Based on this pattern of crackdowns, experienced Fire TV modders have anticipated that apps like Launcher Manager would eventually meet the same fate.
What Does Launcher Manager Actually Do?
Launcher Manager is an app created by the developer SweenWolf that enables full customization of the remote control buttons on Fire TV devices.
By default, the home button just launches the standard Fire TV interface. But with Launcher Manager, you can remap the home button to instead open a customized third-party launcher.
Popular third-party launchers like Wolf Launcher provide a cleaner experience without any ads for Amazon content or other services. Remapping the home button is the key to replacing the stock interface.
Launcher Manager also allows binding the Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and other streaming service buttons to any app of your choice. This lets you launch your favorite apps instantly with one-click.
Version 1.1.8 recently introduced the ability to customize these dedicated streaming buttons. But Amazon was quick to detect this and deployed countermeasures.
Step-by-Step Guide to Install Launcher Manager 1.1.8
Despite Amazon‘s efforts, the developer SweenWolf has already introduced a workaround to restore Launcher Manager functionality. You can install it right now in just a few quick steps:
On your Fire TV device, download and install the TROYPOINT Toolbox app from Troypoint.com. This provides access to apps not available in the Amazon Appstore.
Once installed, open the TROYPOINT Toolbox app and select "Install Troypoint APKs" from the main menu.
Scroll down until you find "Launcher Manager 1.1.8" and select it. This will install the latest version with the ban workaround.
After installation completes, you can launch Launcher Manager anytime from the Fire TV app drawer.
With Launcher Manager up and running again, you‘ll be able to fully customize your remote buttons to suit your preferences. Keep reading to understand why Amazon banned it in the first place.
Amazon‘s Reasoning for Banning Launcher Manager
According to Amazon‘s statement, they banned Launcher Manager for "interfering with the Fire TV user experience." They claim the app could confuse users by taking control of the remote buttons.
However, the real motivation likely has more to do with business considerations than customer confusion. Launcher Manager enables replacing the stock Fire TV interface with a customized launcher. These 3rd party launchers often remove ads for Amazon content.
By allowing users to remap even the Prime Video and other streaming buttons, Launcher Manager directly threatens Amazon‘s business model. They want you to see those Amazon ads and use the pre-configured interface.
Launcher Manager‘s capabilities challenge the level of control and promotion that Amazon wants to maintain over Fire TV. It‘s the same reason they‘ve combatted similar mods in the past.
The Ongoing Cat-and-Mouse Game
For now, the updated Launcher Manager once again gives you control over your Fire TV remote. But Amazon will likely issue another ban soon, continuing this back-and-forth battle.
Some see it as only a matter of time until Amazon completely blocks any interface customization at all. Their incentive is to keep users restricted within their walled garden.
Until then, the modding community will keep tweaking Launcher Manager and developing creative workarounds. But each Amazon ban takes some effort to circumvent, so the process could grow more difficult over time.
Weighing Fire TV vs. Android TV for Customization
This ongoing situation has many Fire TV enthusiasts considering migrating to Android TV devices instead. Platforms like NVIDIA Shield offer far more flexibility for interface customization free from Amazon‘s interference.
Here‘s a quick pros and cons comparison of Fire TV vs. Android TV when it comes to launcher customization:
- Smooth streaming out of the box
- Intuitive and user-friendly interface
- Wide app support from Amazon Appstore
- Works seamlessly with Alexa voice assistant
- Increasingly restrictive customization options
- Amazon bans mods frequently
- Requires ongoing workaround "hacks"
- Extremely open and customizable platform
- Choose from many launcher replacement apps
- Sideload virtually any app without restriction
- Can involve more setup and tweaking
- More of a technical enthusiast platform
- App support not as broad as Fire TV
As you can see, Android TV offers far more launcher and customization freedom. But Fire TV still appeals for its simplicity – if you can live with Amazon‘s restrictions.
Alternatives If Launcher Manager Gets Permanently Banned
If Amazon successfully and permanently blocks Launcher Manager someday, there are still a couple workaround options to consider:
Wolf Launcher has an alternate method involving the Launch on Boot app. It‘s a bit more complex but still lets you replace the stock launcher.
Apps like AtvLauncher 2 have some ability to customize buttons when sideloaded. Not quite as robust as Launcher Manager but better than nothing.
See if any iOS or Android launcher apps can be sideloaded to simulate Launcher Manager functionality.
Switch to Android TV device like the NVIDIA Shield TV removes Amazon‘s restrictions entirely.
I hope this guide has given you some clarity about the ongoing Launcher Manager situation. Although Amazon keeps fighting against it, the modding community persists in trying to preserve our customization capabilities.
Feel free to reach out with any other questions as you try using Launcher Manager or exploring other launcher options! As a fellow Fire TV user, I‘m happy to help you customize your setup.