Amazon is developing a new operating system to replace Android across Fire TVs, smart displays and other connected devices, according to information from Rutgers journalist Yanko Rutgers from multiple sources with knowledge of the plans, as well as job listings and other materials indicating the effort.
The development of the new operating system, known internally as Vega, appears to be fairly advanced, as Amazon has tested it via Fire TV streaming devices, and told specific partners about its plans to move to a new operating system in the near future.
Amazon may begin rolling out Vega on select Fire TV devices as early as next year.
Amazon has been developing an alternative operating system for years, and in 2019 it explored this idea, as company workers raised this idea as early as 2017 in conversations with chip makers.
These efforts appear to have gained momentum recently, with an Amazon employee writing in September of last year on the Blind tech forum that the company was developing an iOS and Android competitor for all devices, including IoT devices.
The employee also mentioned the code name Vega, and noted that Amazon did most of the development of the operating system, adding that the company is now focusing on the software development kit and added value to convince developers to use it.
At the beginning of 2023, Branicki was transferred to the Device Operating System group, and announced at that time via LinkedIn that he was developing the next generation operating system for smart home, cars, and other Amazon device product lines.
Amazon devices, such as Fire TV devices, TVs, Echo Show smart displays, as well as Fire tablets, use a sub-version of Android known as Fire OS.
Using Android as the basis for Fire OS allows third-party developers to bring Android apps that work across phones, tablets, and TVs to Amazon devices without having to rebuild them.
Amazon relies on the open source Android project to build its Fire OS operating system, which has resulted in Fire OS being several generations behind compared to modern versions of Android.
Current-generation Fire TV devices run Fire OS 7, which is based on Android 9, while Google released Android 14 this fall.
Amazon’s streaming devices are also currently running Android 12, and developers began testing Android 13 nearly a year ago via Google’s Android TV developer devices.
Android comes with significant technical limitations, as an operating system designed primarily for mobile phones, as much of its code is not necessary to operate many modern smart home devices.
This is one of the reasons why Google does not use Android in its smart displays, but instead initially relied on a Linux-based solution, and then previously moved to Fuchsia.
React Native allows developers to create applications for many devices and operating systems, including Android and iOS devices, in addition to smart TVs.
Amazon later plans to move away from the Android system completely across all of its new devices, as it wants to adopt Vega for Fire TV devices, smart screens, in-car entertainment systems, and other future hardware products.
Through Vega, Amazon is avoiding further conflicts with Google, as the two companies have long clashed over Amazon’s use of the Android system, and Google has for some time put pressure on device makers not to build smart TVs running Amazon’s system.
The companies then reached an agreement allowing Amazon to partner with TV makers, with Amazon ditching Android giving it more control over its own destiny.