Amazon plotting biggest change to Fire TV Stick since its launch (and Google won't be happy about it)

a fire tv stick sits next to a bowl of popcorn

Amazon is widely-tipped to be developing an all-new operating system that will eventually replace the Android-based FireOS found on Fire TV Stick and Fire tablets

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 25/11/2023

- 07:01

Amazon could ditch Android from its popular own-brand gadgets

  • Amazon is building an all-new operating system for its devices, sources say
  • It could see some Fire TV Stick and Amazon Echo models ditch Android
  • New software could unlock speedier performance from older hardware

Amazon is quietly building an all-new operating system for its popular gadgets, including the Fire TV Stick, Echo Show, and Fire tablets, whispers suggest.

This mysterious new software, which could unlock speedier performance and enable Amazon to build never-before-seen products, is purportedly already being tested in the wild.

As it stands, every single Amazon device is powered by a repurposed version of Google's open-source Android software – not that you'd know it, since the Seattle-based shopping giant has completely reworked the design, replaced the Google Play Store with its own Amazon App Store, and placed an emphasis on simplicity over the customisation that Android is known for.

After all of that hard work ...why would Amazon want to forge its own path?

a demonstration of the software features built into fireos on the fire 11 max tablet from amazon

FireOS powers the Fire Max 11 tablet, the flagship slate from Amazon, and unlocks side-by-side multi-tasking and thousands of popular apps, from PUBG to Prime Video


There are a number of competing theories on what could've pushed the company to begin developing its own operating system (codenamed Vega OS) from scratch – no mean feat when you've sold over 200 million Fire TV devices.

First up, Amazon uses the open-source version of Android as the foundation for its operating system, which is always a little delayed compared to the latest iteration shipped by Google.

Illustrating the issue, the latest iteration of Amazon's software, FireOS 8, is based on the four-year-old Android 10 but in comparison, the latest tablet from Google ships with Android 14 out-of-the-box, which is the latest version of the software and only launched in the last few months.

If Amazon wants to compete with the latest gadgets from Google and Apple, the ability to develop exciting new features at its own pace would be a huge asset.

Building a new operating system from the ground up could improve performance on Amazon's portfolio of gadgets.

The US company sells smart speakers, e-readers, smart photo frames, robot assistants, video doorbells, in-car infotainment systems, tablets, and more ...but the underlying Android software was originally designed for smartphones. That leaves a lot of unused baggage in the code, which can impact the overall speed of the device, especially on lower-cost devices with less powerful chips.

Lastly, switching away from Android would allow Amazon to untangle itself from Google. Both brands compete in a number of categories, including tablets, streaming dongles, and smart speakers, and have had a fraught relationship in recent years.

Amazon refused to sell Google Nest products in its online store for many years, while Google blocked its YouTube app from running on Echo Show and Fire TV. Things have thawed in recent years, with almost all Google Nest and Pixel gadgets now available from Amazon – including direct competitors to products from Amazon and Ring.

Despite the chummier relationship between the two brands, it makes sense that Amazon doesn't want to be reliant on Google's open-source operating system project.

According to blog Zats Not Funny, Echo Show devices running an early version of this all-new operating system have been spotted in the wild. So we're pretty confident that Amazon is testing this so-called VegaOS as a viable alternative to its Android-based FireOS.

However, large multinational companies, like Amazon, test new software, features, and hardware internally all of the time ...but relatively few of these experiments become finalised products.

Even if the bigwigs at Amazon decide to move full steam ahead with VegaOS, we suspect it'll be a while before these gadgets are available to buy on store shelves. After all, Amazon has roughly 500,000 apps available in its App Store for Fire tablets and Fire TV streaming gadgets. Developers will need to overhaul their code to support the new operating system, something that could take a while.

Stay tuned for more information about the change to Fire TV and other Amazon-designed gadgets.

You may like