The term “game changer” gets thrown around a lot.
I mean A LOT.
But I’ve never said it before.
So when I say that the Downloader app for Fire TV is a game-changer…believe it.
In this article, I’m going to take you through a brief intro to the Downloader app for Amazon Fire TV and how to install it. Then I’ll give you a tutorial on how to sideload Fire TV apps, for example…Kodi.
What is the Downloader app for Amazon Fire TV?
The Downloader app is the brain-child of Elias Saba, who you might not have heard of. Even if you don’t know who he is, you’ve probably heard of his site: AFTVnews. Basically, AFTVnews is the be-all, end-all of Fire TV news and tutorials. If there’s a single Fire TV expert in this field, he’s the guy.
Elias created the Amazon Downloader to solve a really annoying problem for users like him: how to easily sideload Fire TV apps if they weren’t on the Amazon App Store.
You see, most of the apps that we want to use are in the Google Play Store, which makes it really easy to install…if the Google Play Store happens to come installed on your device. It doesn’t come on Amazon FireTV’s.
The trouble is that Amazon and Google can’t seem to play nicely with each other. That’s why you won’t see Amazon Prime Video in the Google Play Store, and why you won’t find the Google Play Store on Amazon devices.
Most Fire TV users have gotten around this by using complicated methods to sideload apps on their devices. That’s what I’ve never liked about apps like ES File Explorer. They’re too hard for the novice user to get in and just do something simple.
Let me be the first to say this officially: sideloading sucks.
At least it used to. This app makes it simple.
If you don’t believe me, ask the 7 million people already using the app.
OK…how does it work?
Not only that, but it does the important things that go along with installing a new app, like deleting the old install file (apk) after you don’t need it anymore. We call that “taking out the trash.”
One cool added benefit to the Amazon Downloader is that is includes a full-featured web browser that’s designed to work with the remote or a compatible Amazon Fire TV keyboard.
The app itself is free, but there is an option to donate to support the app’s development.
Sound good so far? Let’s get start the Amazon Downloader setup.
Amazon Downloader setup
This is going to be an easy setup, whether you’re on your Fire TV or on your PC. The Downloader app for Amazon Fire TV is consistently one of the top free apps in the Amazon App Store. If you’re not at your Fire TV right now, you can click on that link and deliver it to your device automatically.
If you prefer to do it manually, keep following along.
You’ll start by heading to the Search tab on your Fire TV and start typing in Downloader App.
Choose either of the first two options and you’ll be taken to the app detail page which looks something like this.
You’ll know it’s the right app when you see the bright orange icon.
Click on it to continue.
You’ll get a permissions warning that Downloader would need to access your storage on this device. That makes sense since you’ll be using it to download and install apps. Click Allow to continue.
Once it finishes installing, open the Downloader app and you’ll see a screen like this.
Now let’s take a look at how to sideload Fire TV apps using Kodi as an example.
How to sideload Fire TV apps (like Kodi)
There’s not a lot to the Amazon Downloader app. All of your menu options are laid out along the left hand side of the screen. On the main portion of the Home tab, you’ll see the spot where you can enter in the URL of the file you want to download. There’s also a section at the bottom where you can donate to help fund further improvements to the app. If you find value in the app, I recommend supporting it by making a donation.
The first thing you’ll want to do is turn on the ability to download Apps from Unknown Sources. You can find this setting in the main Amazon Settings tab (outside the Downloader app), under Developer Options.
Note: I’ve talked before about the risks of turning on Apps from Unknown Sources in my article “Is your device a target for an Android TV box virus?” My advice is to only turn ON Apps From Unknown Sources for as long as it takes to sideload the app you want. Once you’re done, turn it right back off.
There are two ways to sideload Fire TV apps with the Amazon Downloader:
- Directly entering the URL of the file you want to install
- By browsing to the URL with the built-in browser
If you know the URL…
Installing from the URL directly is the simplest method, but it requires that you know the file’s web address ahead of time and that you type it in the box. File’s are constantly updated so you may inadvertently be downloading an old version.
At this time, the latest version of Kodi is Krypton version 17.6.
You can simply type that into the URL box, using either an Amazon Fire TV keyboard, or by navigating through the onscreen keyboard with the remote control.
If you don’t know the URL…
If you don’t know the URL, you can click over to the Browser tab and search for it on the web, just like you would on any other web browser.
But let’s get one thing out of the way first…
The reason why I’m bringing this up is that the Amazon Downloader app turns this off by default for performance reasons. It’s a good idea to leave this setting off if you don’t need it, and only turn it on when your web page doesn’t look the way you’re expecting it to.
Navigating the Downloader browser
Once you’re on the Kodi homepage and it looks like it should, you can navigate around the page with the remote control. You’ll see a red circle where your cursor is on the web page. To click on a link, just click on the center button on your Fire TV remote.
Once you get to the Downloads page of Kodi.tv, you’ll want to click on the Android icon. The Fire TV and Fire Stick are based on the Android operating system.
Here’s where things can get interesting.
Team Kodi creates several different versions of their app for Android devices, simply because there are so many different versions of Android devices.
You’ll see the different versions separated into Release and Nightly downloads. Nightly downloads are “work in progress” versions that the developers are testing before they become part of the official release versions. Unless you don’t mind the occasional crashes and bugs that come with being on the bleeding-edge of software design, I recommend sticking to the Release builds.
The trouble is, there’s still three different versions of Kodi here. Let’s rule out the Google Play version right away. After all, if the app was on Google Play and we could get to it, we wouldn’t need to go through this process, right?
Now we’re left with a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version. Which do we need?
My general advice is to start out with the 64-bit version and see if it works (it will not at the time of this writing). The reason is that a 64-bit version will offer slightly better performance because it’s optimized for the newer CPU’s on the market. If it doesn’t work, then you can fall back to the 32-bit version. No harm. No foul.
As I said, the 64-bit version won’t work in this particular case, so let’s skip ahead a few steps and click on the 32-Bit download button in the center.
Once the file finishes downloading, it will pull up a permissions screen that will have you verify what permissions you’re giving to the app.
It’s always a good idea to make sure that the app isn’t asking for permissions that it doesn’t really need. In this case, Kodi is only asking for permission to modify or delete the contents of your internal memory, which is understandable for a media center.
Go ahead and click Install on the bottom right hand corner.
Once you get the message that the app is finished installing, the Amazon Downloader will give you the option of deleting the installation file.
Since the Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick don’t have a whole lot of internal memory, I recommend always deleting the installation file. It’ll save you some space that you could put to better use by storing movie or music files.
If you choose to delete the installation apk, it’ll ask you to confirm.
Since we’re really, 100% certain that we don’t want the file wasting space on the internal storage, go ahead and click Delete.
Once installed, Kodi (or any other Fire TV app that you installed) will appear in the Your Apps & Games section on the Home tab. After that, the app will act just like any app you’ve downloaded from the Amazon App Store.
The Amazon Downloader is one of the easiest ways to sideload Fire TV apps on to your device. It’s used by over 7 million people, and it’s easy to see why.
If you’re looking for a true, “must-have” Fire TV app, this is it.
Have you used the Amazon Downloader? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.