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.


Apple’s new iPads are hardly new at all. Don’t waste your money

It has taken Apple four years to get around to updating the iPad Mini line, but the new iPad Mini is virtually identical to its predecessor. It’s joined by a confusing iPad Air with no obvious target audience. Is Apple just trying to sell…

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for March 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.

The iPad Mini, Apple’s tiny tablet, makes a return with powerful specs

Apple has finally revealed the iPad Mini. With all-new and upgraded specs, support for the Apple Pencil, and a fantastically inclusive price, here's everything you need to know about the iPad Mini.

Windows updates shouldn't cause problems, but if they do, here's how to fix them

Windows update not working? It's a more common problem than you might think. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot it and in this guide we'll break them down for you step by step.

No Man’s Sky Online is a radical — and free — multiplayer coming this summer

Hello Games has announced the Beyond update for No Man's Sky, a major content addition that will apparently transform how multiplayer and social interactions work within the survival game.

iPad Air vs. iPad Mini: Which new tablet from Apple is best for you?

Apple has unveiled two new iPad models, including a new iPad Air and a new iPad Mini. Both devices have a lot to offer. But which iPad is right for your needs? We put the iPad Air and iPad Mini to the test to find out.

Even older Apple Watches could be effective at spotting heart conditions

The Apple Watch Series 4 is known for detecting heart conditions like atrial fibrillation thanks to having an electrocardiograph feature. It turns out that older Apple Watches could be effective at tracking AFib, too.

The best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods, nice as they are, aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, and if you're looking to buy a pair of high-end in-ear headphones, we've got the best AirPod alternatives on the…

The Black Shark 2’s Ludicrous Mode promises the smoothest mobile gaming

Xiaomi-backed Black Shark has a follow-up to last year's Black Shark gaming phone, complete with high specs and a low price. Here's everything we know about the Black Shark 2 gaming phone.

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for March 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for March 2018.

Amazon drops price on Apple Watch Series 4 with a rare deal

Since Apple first unveiled the Series 4, the price for one has pretty much held fast. This has finally started to change with a nice little $15 discount on Amazon. If you've been wanting the newest Apple Watch, now is a great time.

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.

Google's midrange Pixels might be called the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

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.

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs brings 3D demolition into your living room

Angry Birds is releasing its next entry in the spring of 2019 - with a new spin. Bringing 3D environments and destruction, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs uses augmented reality to add a new dimension to a classic series.