Encryption’s a thing of the past in Amazon’s Fire OS 5

Amazon backtracks, says 'full-disk encryption' will return in a spring update

Amazon Fire HD 8
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends
In the latest Fire OS 5 software update for its Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon has removed device encryption. First highlighted on Amazon’s support website, the matter has since captured the interest of many. Why? Because encryption is a hot topic thanks to Apple’s continuing battle with the FBI, making Amazon’s timing — and relative silence about the update — either an unfortunate coincidence, or a carefully timed move.

Encryption is offered by Apple on iOS, and by Google on Android software (where it’s an option on some versions), but for Fire OS 5 hardware, there isn’t an option. It’s no longer offered at all.

Updated on 03-05-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added information of Amazon returning encryption to Fire OS in the spring. 

It looks like Amazon has caved in and will bring back full-disk encryption to its Fire tablets.

“We will return the option for full disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring,” Robin Handaly, Amazon’s PR manager, told Digital Trends.

It’s uncertain what caused the sudden change — it could have been the explosive media attention given the backdrop of the Apple vs. FBI case, customer outcry, both, or something else entirely. We’ve reached out and will update this post when we get more information.

As expected, not every customer was thrilled when they found out encryption was being removed:

There are a few things to note, the first being that the update only applies to Fire tablets currently running Fire OS 5, Amazon’s own take on Android 5.0 Lollipop. In addition, if you’re coming from an older version of Fire OS and had your Fire tablet encrypted, the update essentially breaks that encryption. Since it will be back in a spring update, you could simply not update your device until Amazon brings back encryption, but even if you installed the update and breached your security, you’ll get it back soon.

This move couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time, given Apple’s very public support of encryption as it battles with the FBI. Perhaps even more strange is that Amazon, alongside other companies, filed an amicus brief voicing support for Apple. The online retailer has also stated that its line of always-listening Echo devices are strongly encrypted, which is why it was so strange to see Amazon backtrack on encryption for its Fire tablets.

In a effort to explain, Amazon PR manager Robin Handaly told Digital Trends earlier: “In the fall, when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren’t using. All Fire tablets’ communication with Amazon’s cloud meet our high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption.”

Amazon’s statement did little to assuage its customers’ frustrations over the update, but bringing encryption back will certainly place them in better light.


5G your old phone: HTC’s 5G Hub is now available for pre-order from Sprint

HTC almost made a phone. The HTC 5G Hub runs Android 9 Pie, has a Qualcomm 855 processor with the X50 modem, 4GB of RAM, and an HD touchscreen -- but it's a hot spot designed to connect to 5G networks.

Tesla’s recent Model S fires prompt the company to update its battery software

Following three Model S incidents where the cars caught fire while parked, Tesla has started pushing out an update for Model S and Model X batteries to improve their safety. The company is still investigating the cause of the fires.

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for May 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.

Apple’s revamped TV app is here, rolling out to viewers with iOS 12.3 update

Apple's iOS 12.3 update has brought a brand new overhaul of its TV app, as the popular device maker prepares for the launch of its highly anticipated on-demand video streaming service.

Hands on with Android Auto’s redesign and Assistant’s driver mode

Google debuted a series of updates to its Android Auto software that will land in summer 2019. The new interface is darker and more intuitive to use, and requires less taps. There's also a driving mode coming to Google Assistant.

Get ready to slay spiders and skeletons in real life with Minecraft Earth

Minecraft Earth is the new augmented reality mobile game that uses the Minecraft engine. We have everything you need to know including the release date, features, price, phone compatibility, and more.

Mad U.K. retailer slashes 99% off Google Pixel 3a price for a few lucky buyers

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.

Grab it as soon as it pops up: The OnePlus 7 Pro is now available for sale

The OnePlus 7 Pro has been revealed, and it's a monster of a phone with a stunning redesign, a pop-up selfie camera, powerful flagship specs, and a price that's hundreds of dollars less than the competition.

How to use recovery mode to fix your Android phone or tablet

If you’re having a problem you can’t seem to resolve with your Android device, or maybe you want to update it or wipe the cache, recovery mode could be what you’re looking for. Here's how to get your Android phone into recovery mode.
Home Theater

Why you can’t buy Car Thing, Spotify’s first hardware device

Spotify created a voice-activated, in-car device that lets you listen to music and podcasts. But Car Thing, as it is known, is not for sale. Instead, it will be used to gather data from a limited set of customers.
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.

The Realme X is so cheap and so good that it defies the rules of economics

The Realme X has a 48-megapixel camera, an in-display fingerprint sensor, an AMOLED screen, and a Snapdragon 710 processor, yet it costs from $220. We've tried out the phone to see if it's too good to be true.

Can Apple or Samsung steal the OnePlus 7 Pro's flagship killer title?

OnePlus has long been the go-to for flagship specs under a flagship price. But now Apple and Samsung have challengers in the arena, and they want the Flagship Killer crown for themselves. Who wins? We found out.