Amazon Begins Replacing Its Android-based Fire OS with New Software

All of Amazon’s hardware platforms, including the Fire Tablet, Fire TV, and Echo, run on the Android-based Fire OS. But this is set to change over the next few years. Amazon has debuted an all-new operating system, codenamed “Vega OS,” on the latest Echo Show 5 smart display.

The development of Vega OS has gone on for some time, and it’s been the subject of several rumors. Earlier this month, the Lowpass newsletter provided a detailed account of Vega OS’ development and pointed to job listings as evidence of an upcoming launch. But, as it turns out, the launch wasn’t “upcoming.” It happened right under our noses.

As reported by Zats Not Funny, the latest Echo Show 5’s software version is labeled “OS 1.1.” Normally, the software version would be listed as Fire OS (which is currently on an 8.0 build, not a 1.0 build). At a glance, the two operating systems look identical, but a tell-tale difference is Vega OS’ inability to stream Netflix. Companies like Netflix still need to port their Fire OS software to the Vega OS platform. (Behind the scenes, Amazon may be providing some companies with the development materials for Vega OS. But Amazon hasn’t published an SDK.)

Rumors suggest that Amazon will use Vega OS on all of its hardware platforms (Fire Tablet, Fire TV, Echo). Presumably, the Echo Show was chosen as a starting point because it contains very little third-party software. The Fire Tablet and Fire TV are made to run Android apps, so they present a much greater challenge. If Amazon fails to build an Android emulation layer, third-party apps must be ported to Vega OS.

As for why Amazon is creating an in-house operating system, it’s simply a matter of control. The Android platform is bloated with stuff that Amazon doesn’t need, and it often leaves Amazon at the whim of Google. A bespoke OS may provide increased performance for Amazon hardware. It should also give Amazon more freedom when building new features, though the benefits of Vega OS depend entirely on Amazon’s ability to draw in third-party developers and maintain an in-house operating system.

Thankfully, the Echo Show 5’s transition to Vega OS is mostly seamless. Amazon probably hopes for a seamless transition across all of its products—the average person may never notice the difference. If you’re feeling a sense of déjà vu, you’re probably thinking of Google’s Fuschsia operating system, which is slowly (and seamlessly) replacing the “Cast OS” on Nest Hub smart displays. It’s an interesting parallel, to say the least.

Source: Zats Not Funny!


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