How to Unblock YouTube on Amazon Fire TVs

If you own an Amazon Fire TV, you may have already been notified that YouTube will “not be available” starting January 1st, 2018. Fortunately, we found two good workarounds you can use to keep on watching YouTube. Read on to learn more about the war between Google and Amazon and find out how to unblock YouTube on Amazon Fire TV.

Google and Amazon Are Butting Heads (Again)

Early this week, Verge reported that Google intends to yank its YouTube app from Amazon Fire TV devices.

A YouTube spokesperson revealed the reason behind the move:

“Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products. Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV.”

The next day, Amazon fired back at Google:

“Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website. We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.”

Consumers Are Left Holding the Bag

Though Amazon is not legally obligated to cooperate with Google, the dust-up has left consumers feeling frustrated.

Media analyst Dan Rayburn of Frost & Sullivan told The Washington Post that he thinks the Amazon-Google dispute is “childish.”

“It’s pretty childish that companies as big as Amazon and Google can’t work out a deal that makes sense for both of them, thereby helping the industry to grow.”

Amazon Fire TV owners expressed their disappointment on Reddit following YouTube’s announcement.

Two Workarounds for Watching YouTube on Amazon Fire TV

No YouTube app? No problem.

A new app called Streamio lets you watch YouTube on Amazon Fire TV without the official app.

Streamio is an all-in-one video player that allows you to view videos from iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, Twitch and FilmOn TV all in one place.

Alternatively, you can use the YouTube add-on for the open source media player known as Kodi.

Streamio looks a little nicer compared to the YouTube add-on for Kodi. However, Streamio doesn’t let you search for individual videos. Its search function only finds YouTube channels. Once you look up a YouTube channel on Streamio, you can access its videos.

The YouTube add-on for Kodi is basically just a stripped down version of the official YouTube add-on. Its text-based menu isn’t very user friendly, but a least it allows you to use YouTube in the typical way.

How to Install Streamio

Here’s everything you need to know about Streamio for Amazon Fire TV.

How does it work?

All Streamio channels connect to its search bar, which allows you to search through several different video catalogs at once.

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You can’t search for individual YouTube videos using Streamio search. However, you can search for and add YouTube channels.

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Just search for whatever channel you want to add.

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Now you’ll see the channel’s YouTube videos on the right side of the screen.

You can also favorite the channel by adding it to your Stremio library via the purple button.

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Streamio’s video player is somewhat basic. There’s no way to look at comments or turn on closed captions. You can still watch any video on YouTube, though, provided that you know which channel uploaded it.

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In addition to YouTube, you can also access video content from other video services like FilmOn, Twitch, Netflix and more.

Just click the puzzle piece icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to add more add-ons to Streamio.

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Streamio is not available in the official Amazon Fire TV store – so you have to sideload it to get it to work.

To install Streamio on a Fire TV device, you have to use ES File Explorer, Downloader or some other tool that lets you install unofficial 3rd party apps.

Here’s how to install Streamio on Amazon Fire TV using Downloader.

Step 1: Change Your System Settings

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  • Under Settings, click Developer Options.
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  • You should see both ADB Debugging and Apps from Unknown Sources. Turn both of these options ON.
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Step 2: Get the Downloader App

  • Install the free Downloader App, which is available in the Amazon TV app store.
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Step 3: Download Stremio

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  • Stremio’s website will load inside of Downloader. Click the menu icon on the top right part of the Streamio website and navigate to downloads.
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  • Scroll down to Android and click Stremio 0.40.1 APK.
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Step 4: Install Stremio

After the APK is finished downloading, click Install.

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That’s it!

You’ll be able to find Stremio under Your Apps & Games.

Another Way to Get YouTube: Kodi

If you sideload the open source media player known as Kodi and install the YouTube Kodi add-on, you’ll be able to watch YouTube on your Fire TV without the official YouTube app.

As mentioned above, Kodi’s simplified YouTube add-on has a somewhat ugly text menu and lacks many standard features. However, it will let you search for and watch individual YouTube videos without the official YouTube app.

Here’s a step-by-step guide that’ll walk you through everything you need to do to get started.

Step 1: Change Your System Settings

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  • Under Settings, click Developer Options.
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  • You should see both ADB Debugging and Apps from Unknown Sources. Turn both of these options ON.
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Step 2: Download ES File Explorer

To download and install the ES File Explorer File Manager:

  • Go to your Amazon App Store
  • Search ES File Explorer
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Step 3: Install Kodi

  • Open ES Explorer and click Tools on the bottom left.
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  • Click the Plus Symbol at the bottom of the screen.
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  • Once the download is complete, click Open File.
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  • Another window named Properties will pop up. In this one, click Install.
  • The Kodi installation screen will open. Click Install at the bottom.
  • Close ES Explorer.

Step 4: Install the YouTube Kodi Add-on

The YouTube Kodi add-on doesn’t have as many features as the official YouTube app, but at least it will let you watch YouTube videos. Here’s how to install YouTube for Kodi.

  • Launch Kodi and click Add-ons.
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  • Click the open box symbol on the top left part of the screen.
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  • Now select Install from Repository.
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  • Scroll down to YouTube then click it and select Install.
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How to Setup YouTube for Kodi

You don’t have to log onto the YouTube Kodi add-on to use it. However, if you do want to log in, here’s what you have to do.

  • The first time you use the Kodi YouTube add-on, you’ll see a box that asks you if you want to execute the setup wizard. Click Yes.
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  • Select English, or whatever language you prefer.
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  • The YouTube algorithm takes your geographical region into account when recommending videos. Select a region to continue.
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  • Click OK to continue past this message.
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  • Go to youtube.com/activate. Then, enter in the first authorization code.
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  • Once you’ve authorized YouTube the first time, you’ll see this message:
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  • The Kodi app will now show you a second code. Enter that in as well. You’ll see a second “Success! Device connected” message.
  • Once you authorize twice, you’ll be able to access your YouTube account.
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Though the Kodi YouTube add-on will allow you to access your subscriptions, liked/disliked videos and favorites, it won’t let you leave or read comments. You can’t view previews of videos, either – everything is all text.

The Google-Amazon Battle Rages On

The war of the tech titans has spilled out onto several different battlefields. Here is a quick overview of all the Google and Amazon products and services that have been affected by the conflict.

YouTube no longer works with Echo Show

In addition to pulling out of Amazon Fire TV, YouTube also announced that it would no longer provide services to Echo Show devices.

Echo Show is similar to Amazon Echo in that it can respond to voice commands. As its name suggests, the most notable thing about Echo Show is its display.

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If Echo Show worked with YouTube, you’d be able to pull up and play YouTube videos using your voice. But because YouTube and Amazon aren’t currently getting along, Echo Show users will be limited to using Amazon’s video platform and video services that are on good terms with the ecommerce giant.

Amazon kicked out Chromecast

Because Google Chromecast is competing with Amazon Fire TV, it makes sense that Amazon would try to put a damper on Chromecast sales.

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Both devices provide a quick and easy way to watch web video on any HDMI compatible TV set.

Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV are equally easy to use because they are both “plug and play” devices that you can stick into any TV with an HDMI port. However, with Chromecast you “cast” your phone’s screen directly to your TV. Amazon Fire TV runs an operating system that you control directly on your TV, using a remote.

As a result of the ongoing Amazon-Google feud, you can no longer buy a Chromecast through Amazon.

Amazon Prime video doesn’t work with Google Cast

Before Amazon and Google went to war, you could cast Amazon Prime videos to your TV with a Chromecast device – but not anymore.

Amazon also refuses to carry Google Home

Google Home is a line of Amazon Echo-like smart speakers that can respond to voice commands.

It’s easy to see why Amazon sees Google Home as a threat. Google Home can do some pretty neat stuff, like recognize individual voices and respond differently based on who it decides is speaking. Additionally, Google Home offers more detailed step-by-step cooking instructions compared to Amazon Echo. Plus, Google Home lets you call landline phones and mobile phones for free.

In May, CNET compared Google Home to Amazon Echo. CNET concluded that even though Google Home is more stylish and has more options for playing media, Amazon Echo is still a better assistant overall. Additionally, CNET observed that Amazon Echo integrates with more smart home brands than Google Home.

You won’t find any new Nest products on Amazon, either

Perhaps seeking an edge in the race to colonize the smart home appliance market, Amazon has decided to not sell several new products from Nest.

Google bought smart home gadget maker Nest Labs back in 2014.

Just a few weeks ago, Nest was offering black Friday discounts to shoppers that bought Nest products through Amazon. But on the 5th of December, Verge observed that Amazon had kicked several new Nest products out of its store.

New products from Nest – including Nest E Thermostat, Nest Camera IQ, and the Nest Secure alarm system – have vanished from Amazon. However, Nest’s older products still remain.

Summary

Because Google plans to pull YouTube from Amazon Fire TV devices, you’ll soon have to use a workaround to watch YouTube on Amazon Fire TV.

Fortunately, there are several ways to access YouTube without the official app. Streamio and Kodi both have YouTube plug-ins that will likely allow you to continue using YouTube after 1/1/2018.

Other devices and services affected by the Google-Amazon feud include Amazon Echo Show, Nest, Google Home, Chromecast and Amazon Prime Video.

 

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