Amazon is working on a replacement for Android’s Fire OS, which is codenamed “Vega” and is designed to make app development easier, according to the British Daily Mail. Reporting from Yanko Rutgers in Lowpass.
Fire OS is a fork of Android based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), but it’s far from the same thing. the Firemax 11the 2023 device, runs Fire OS 8, which is based on Android 11, released in 2020. As Roettgers points out, Fire TV devices sold in 2023 are based on Android 9, as of 2018. While the Android base A relatively familiar entry for developers who already have Android apps, rebuilding the AOSP project — which aims to support a wide range of different devices and take on years of technical debt — appears to have become frustrating enough for Amazon to push for an in-house solution.
Vega could start shipping on Fire TV devices as early as next year, according to Roettgers’ sources. From there, the web-based operating system could move into Echo smart displays, Fire tablets, and then future Amazon efforts, such as in-car entertainment systems. Rutgers points out that with a custom operating system, Amazon can better control the deployment of ads and paid services on a “wide range of inexpensive devices.”
Ars has reached out to Amazon for comment on this story.
There are larger implications of Amazon separating itself from its mandatory open source Android offerings. Google previously sought to impose a clause in its contracts with companies that provide Play Store and Google services on its Android devices, stating that it would not seek to use a version of the Android operating system, such as Fire OS, in other devices. Amazon and Google struck a deal (also Reported by Rutgers) allowing Fire TV manufacturers like TCL to continue making Android TV and Fire TV systems. However, Google’s official position remains unchanged. Perhaps what’s better than a contract-bending deal is not having to make that deal at all.
A niche wrinkle in Amazon’s plans includes a strange path to its fiery ecosystem. There is an enthusiastic community centered around buying Fire tablets for their low, economically cheating price Download Play Store and other Google services on it (And even restrict the presence of Amazon ads on them). With Android’s broader app economy, one could then use the enhanced Fire device as a wall-mounted or tabletop smart home controller, an infotainment display, or a hybrid tablet that’s slow but has a wide range of options. Abandoning Android removes that channel for tinkerers, at least until someone gets into the bootloader.
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