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Amazon launches second device powered by secret new Vega OS

Linux all the way

Amazon appears to be sticking to its plan to abandon Android for a new Linux-based operating system conde-named Vega: The company quietly launched a second smart display device running the OS earlier this year.

After first testing Vega on the Echo Show 5 last year, Amazon once again relied on the OS for its new Echo Hub device, which began shipping in February. The smart home-centric display isn’t advertised as running Vega, but a closer look at the company’s open source disclosures reveals that the Echo Hub is running an operating system based on the Linux 5.16 kernel.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.

Prior to beginning its transition to Vega, Amazon relied on a forked version of Android known as Fire OS for both smart displays and smart TVs / streaming sticks. This allowed the company to quickly scale up its devices business, and attract third-party developers by promising that their existing Android TV apps would run with just a few minor modifications.

However, using Android for these kinds of devices also comes with a number of downsides. For one thing, Android is a mobile OS at its core, and not necessarily optimized for smart displays and other voice-centric devices (Google began transitioning away from Android for its Nest smart displays as well). What’s more, a long-running dispute with Google over the use of forked Android versions significantly slowed down the adoption of Fire TV.

Transitioning to this new OS represents a kind of fresh start for Amazon’s devices business. My understanding is that the company will likely keep Fire OS running on existing devices, but ship new hardware with Vega going forward. When I broke the Vega news last November, I was told by sources familiar with Amazon’s plans that this will include a first Fire TV device this year.


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Image courtesy of Amazon.

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