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Sideloading apps onto your Amazon Fire TV unlocks a world of possibilities. Because the Amazon Fire TV's operating system is based on Android, it's possible to put Android apps onto the Fire TV, greatly increasing the amount of apps you can enjoy on the device.

So what should you sideload on your Fire TV? If your mind jumped right to web browsers, you're not alone. The Fire TV can do a lot out of the box, but one thing it can't do is browse the Internet. And that's a shame, because surfing the web from your couch is super convenient. Sideloading a browser onto your Fire TV would go a long way towards filling this need – but it won't necessarily work.

That's because sideloading isn't a perfect solution. While the Fire TV OS is based on Android, it isn't exactly the same, which means that you can sometimes encounter problems with your sideloaded apps. And native Android apps are made for touchscreen devices, like the phones and tablets that normally use the Android OS, so they can sometimes be difficult to navigate on the Fire TV.

You know that you can sideload a browser to Fire TV, but should you? Will it work? We set out to find out by testing three popular browsers on a Fire TV

Testing the Browsers

Browsers on Fire TV

We tried out three browsers for this project: Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. They aren't the only browsers available on Android, but they're by far the most popular. We tried them each out two ways: once with just the Fire TV remote, and once with a USB keyboard and mouse plugged in. Here are the results!

Chrome

Chrome on Fire TVWith the remote:

Chrome was quasi-functional when using just the remote. We were able to navigate to the address bar, and Amazon Fire TV's on-screen keyboard allowed us to enter a web address. Scrolling worked fine too, and the menu button even allowed us to mark bookmarks and alter Chrome's settings. But the one thing we couldn't do might have been the most important: we couldn't click links! The directional buttons only scrolled the pages on most sites.

With peripherals: Adding a mouse saved Chrome. With the mouse there to help you click on links, the whole thing becomes pretty functional. We used a USB splitter and added a keyboard, too, and things came together pretty well. There was one annoying quirk, though: Chrome's on-screen keyboard still comes up even when you're using a physical keyboard. You can still use the physical keyboard, but when you're done typing the cursor will stay rested on the last letter, and hitting “enter” will just enter that letter again. We found ourselves typing “cordcutting.comm” a lot before remembering to use the arrow keys to navigate to the enter button.

Firefox

Firefox on Fire TV
The way Firefox handles tabs on Android works nicely with a mouse-and-keyboard setup, which is a perk.

With the remote: Like Chrome, Firefox was usable with the remote, but only barely. You could navigate to the address bar, type out your destination on Amazon Fire TV's notoriously annoying on-screen keyboard, and then scroll a bit once you got there – but that's it.

With the keyboard: Again like Chrome, Firefox was vastly improved by the addition of a keyboard and a mouse. The scrolling seemed a little quirkier on Firefox, but it lacked the annoying on-screen keyboard quirk of Chrome, which was nice. With the mouse there to click the links, Firefox functioned perfectly well as a browser.

Opera

Opera on Fire TV
Opera wouldn't let us get past this screen on the Fire TV.

With the remote: This didn't go well. We couldn't even get past the tutorial using the remote. We reached for the mouse and keyboard right away.

With peripherals: Nothing doing, we're afraid. Even with a keyboard or mouse plugged into the Fire TV's USB port, we weren't able to get past Opera's tutorial screen. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that Opera is a good option for sideloaders.

Our Conclusions

So, should you sideload browsers to Fire TV?

The answer to that depends on what you're looking for. The decision to add a browser to your Fire TV really comes down to convenience. If you have a Fire TV in a room with no other way to put a browser on the big screen, and you don't mind plugging a USB mouse into your device, we'd recommend downloading Firefox (with Chrome as a close second) and sideloading it onto your Fire TV. If you think plugging in a USB mouse is a deal-breaker, or if you already have a Chromecast (with its convenient tab-casting option), we'd suggest skipping this project.

How to Sideload Browsers to Fire TV

If you've decided to try this project out, we suggest going with the ADB sideloading method. It's the first of several methods we cover in our full article on sideloading, and it works by downloading the APK file for your desired program, connecting to your Fire TV through the Android Debugging Bridge, and installing the program through your Terminal (Mac) or Command Prompt (Windows).

Here are links to download the APK files for each of the browsers we discussed above. Again, we liked Firefox the best (by a hair) and Opera the least (by far).

  • Firefox (the download link is in the parenthetical below the bullet list)
  • Chrome
  • Opera (the download link is in the small text below the Google Play button)

Of course, there are other browsers out there. If you prefer to sideload Dolphin or another more obscure browser, let us know why in the comments!

8 thoughts on “Is Sideloading Browsers on Fire TV Worth It?

  1. Avatar Robert V. Hobbs says:

    I’ve loaded Opera on my Fire TV, and use “Remote Mouse” on my iPad for control.

    It’s clunky, but it works!

  2. Avatar Nils says:

    I would definitely recommend installing Chrome rather than Firefox. I have tried both and the video playback with chrome is much smoother and the page loading is a lot faster. For me the main reason for installing a web browser on the Fire Stick TV is to access videos that are not available in the Amazon library and streaming websites are often full of pop-ups. Where I have been several times blocked with a “opening pop-up loop” with Firefox, Chrome always allowed me to close pop-ups or tabs and has a pretty OK pop-up blocker.

  3. Avatar john says:

    I have the APK for Firefox, but nothing happens when I click on the download.

  4. Avatar MIke says:

    I’m having trouble with Firefox. I try to run Fox News which requires that I login to a cable provider, but when I login, it gives me a keyboard (I have a Logitech keyboard/mouse) and I type in the email address, hit next, and it complains that the user name/password do not match. In other words, it never gives me the chance to enter the password. Any ideas?

  5. Avatar Jim says:

    On my Fire Stick, I added Firefox and Chrome. Firefox shows the address bar but Chrome does not. Is there a setting or a specific version of Chrome I need for Fire Stick?

  6. Avatar Dillon says:

    I have the Fire TV app on both my iPhone and my Fire. I guess I can take a look at those.

  7. Avatar Tech Addict says:

    I have a browser on the FTV but try to avoid using like the plague seeing as it’s such a tortuous process, normally involving at least two of the remotes. The Fire TV on-screen keyboard is the biggest hurdle. It just gets in the way of everything. Really wish it could be turned off!!! I use an air mouse but even then it’s a constant struggle to find which combination of buttons/keys will work.

  8. Avatar ChrisG says:

    Well, I tried Firefox with Flash and a Rii i8+ BT wireless keyboard without much luck when trying to stream movies from PBS, Reelgood, KingMovies.to, HGTV, and Great America Country. I tried the “downloader” program from the Fire Stick with a little better results. But, even combined, they didn’t play all of them.

    I decided to try my favorite phone browser… Ghostery. Surprise, they all played like they do on my phone. Don’t know if any other browsers work (Puffin, Safari, Dolphin, etc.), and don’t plan on trying them as Ghostery works fine for my current needs.

    Thought others should know so they can try it (btw, it is the ARM version of the APK).

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