You must be wondering, “What is a Firestick?” Perhaps you recently just got one. Well, then, this guide will take you through everything you need to know to turn your TV into an ultimate entertainment center, using a seemingly ordinary device such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Indeed, the streaming world has expanded dramatically over the last ten years as more and more people continue to cut the cord. Before everyone knew it, IPTV services and Kodi apps have become mainstream. One of the most significant facilitators of such growth is the rise of streaming devices such as Firestick, Roku, Nvidia Shield, Chromecast, and Android TV Boxes. Among them, Amazon Fire TV Stick has grown extremely popular since its launch in 2014, owing to a combination of the device’s processing power, ease of use, low price, and unlimited possibilities.
Firestick is officially known as the Amazon Fire TV Stick. It is a portable streaming device that lets users access digital content through their TV screen. The device is small in size and is connected to the TV through an HDMI port. It is then powered through a USB cable and connected to the internet to access content.
Amazon Firestick runs on an operating system known as Fire OS, a fork of the popular Android TV OS. This makes Firestick compatible with almost all Android apps, something that has greatly contributed to its popularity as there are thousands of free Android streaming apps.
However, Amazon Firestick doesn’t have Google services, so it’s incompatible with the Google Play Store. You can install official apps such as Netflix and YouTube from the Amazon Appstore or sideload third-party apps (which requires jailbreaking a Firestick) such as CyberFlix TV through another app.
The topic of Amazon Fire TV devices can often be confusing as there are several variations of Fire TV Stick, and then there’s the Fire TV Cube. All these devices offer the same content, but the Fire TV Cube provides many extra functionalities borrowed from the Amazon Echo. For example, while all devices support Alexa voice control, the Fire TV Cube handles it much better in that you don’t have to press down on your remote to give voice commands.
You can also seamlessly integrate the Fire TV Cube with your smart home gadgetry and use it to control lights, thermostats, door locks, and lots of other devices. It also has its own speaker such that when you ask about the weather, it won’t need to turn on your TV. But if you tell it to play music, it will turn on your TV rather than play music through its small speaker. Cool, huh?
Nevertheless, when we go back to streaming, the Cube doesn’t do anything more than the higher-end versions of Fire TV Stick. It typically provides the same functionalities as Firestick 4K.
There are several variations of the Amazon Fire TV Stick, with the main difference being the capabilities and the cost. Here’s a quick summary of the different Firestick versions:
All devices run on a quad-core processor, which ensures smooth streaming.
Note: Each device has various variations as they are all frequently updated. For example, the current Fire TV Stick is Firestick Gen 3, but the Firestick Gen 2 version is still available in stores.
The Amazon Firestick is a straightforward device, and it doesn’t require much to start working. Once you unpack it, you can get it running in a few steps:
Image source: Amazon.com
If you bought your Firestick from the Amazon website, it should already be connected to your Amazon account. Just install apps and stream away!
If you bought your device elsewhere, you’ll need to log in – or register for free if you don’t have one – with your Amazon account.
Amazon Fire TV Stick works like most streaming devices in that you only need to set it up as shown above. You can then install apps to start streaming. The best thing about the device is that you won’t be limited to the Firestick apps provided on the Appstore, as the device also runs third-party Android apps.
Overall, you can do the following on Firestick:
Apart from streaming, you can also use Alexa on Firestick to ask for answers and give commands.
Note that the new version of Fire OS allows you to set up profiles such that each user has their own customized experience.
Amazon Firestick comes with an official store that hosts hundreds of apps you can install to stream both free and paid content.
If you already know the Firestick apps to download, you can use the search option on your Amazon Fire TV Stick:
You’ll now see a search option alongside four subcategories: All your Apps, Featured, Games, and All Categories.
The latter will allow you to search for apps that relate to your interests.
If the app of your choice is geo-restricted and not available in your region, you can change your Firestick location and install it.
Free Firestick apps such as Crackle, Tubi, and Xumo TV only offer little content and are usually geo-restricted. To unleash the full power of your Amazon streaming device, you will need to install third-party apps such as CinemaHD, and most popularly, Kodi.
This is often referred to as jailbreaking a Firestick as it does away with subscriptions and geo-restrictions, although it also requires users to connect to a reliable VPN to stream safely.
The best and most popular way to install third-party apps is through an app known as Downloader.
Step 1: Install Downloader
Downloader is a download manager, which also facilitates the installation of apps. The app is available on the Appstore.
To enable Downloader to install your app of choice (and any future apps for that matter), you’ll need to set up a few things on Firestick.
Step 2: Prep your Amazon Firestick
The first thing you need to do is allow “apps from unknown sources.”
Allow “Apps from Unknown Sources”
Depending on your Firestick version, this will either allow the entire device to install third-party apps or only allow Downloader to do that.
If you are using Firestick Lite or Firestick Gen 3, clicking the option will give you a list of apps. Click on Downloader and accept the prompt to allow the installation of third-party apps.
You can now go ahead and use Downloader to install third-party apps. But before you do that, you may need to disable data sharing to prevent Amazon from spying on you.
Turn Off Amazon Data Collection Settings
Firestick collects data by default since the rollout of their new version of Fire OS, but you can disable the option to enhance your privacy.
Step 3: Download & Install the App
You can now install the app that you want. We usually provide a frequently updated list of the best APKs for Firestick, so you can check it out for the latest. In this guide, we’ll use CyberFlix TV, one of the top apps on the list.
You can now go ahead and open the app you’ve installed from the App & Channels page.
Here’s what CyberFlix looks like.
But before you start streaming, install the best VPN for Firestick and connect to a server. This will ensure that all your streaming activities remain private and anonymous.
Amazon Firestick comes with Alexa voice control. The functionality can be used to provide voice commands, and this can be anything from changing the volume or input on the TV to searching for a particular title.
To activate Alexa on Firestick, simply hold the microphone button on the remote, say out your command, and release the button.
There are times when you may need to uninstall an app on Firestick because it either causes problems or simply takes up too much space. Here’s how to do that:
In case you run into some problems, you can restart your Firestick to see if it will resolve the issues.
The device will now reboot.
Once in a while, you may need to reset your Firestick when you run out of storage or feel that the device has become slow/unresponsive.
To do so:
The device will now reset, and you will be required to connect to your network and log in using your Amazon account.
We hope that this guide satisfactorily answers your question: “What is a Firestick?” The Amazon Fire TV Stick is arguably the most popular streaming device in the market, and that is justified by the device’ functionalities and capabilities. If you have one or are thinking of getting one, we made sure to cover all the basics you need to get started. You can then check out our other guides for the best Firestick apps and Kodi addons.
No, you won’t need to pay a monthly subscription to use Firestick. However, some of the apps may need you to have a subscription.
If your TV is smart but it doesn’t run on Android, you’ll still need Firestick if you’d like to take advantage of the platform’s wide array of free streaming apps.
Value is subjective at best, but the quality of service provided by Firestick and the capability to install lots of free and paid streaming apps make the device worth the $40 you’ll need to part with.