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The Amazon Fire tablets are a force of nature. Cheap, flexible, and with decent battery life, they provide a good intro to tablets for kids, grandparents, and anyone who might be reluctant to progress from a smartphone or even a desktop PC.

We reviewed the Fire 7, Amazon’s $50 7-inch tablet When Cheap Is Good Enough: Amazon Fire 7 Review & Giveaway When Cheap Is Good Enough: Amazon Fire 7 Review & Giveaway The Amazon Fire 7 is a budget tablet and e-reader from the online shopping giant, whose quality will surprise you. It's available for as little as $50. Read More , and although it’s a device you should certainly consider, we observed that it does have a key shortcoming: the Amazon-made version of Android Android Skins Explained: How Do Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Android Skins Explained: How Do Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Hardware makers like to take Android and morph it into something that is entirely their own, but is this a good or a bad thing? Take a look and compare these different Android skins. Read More that comes pre-installed.

Fortunately, you don’t have to use your Amazon Fire tablet with the software restrictions that Amazon forces on you. Several apps and customizations can be added that will give you a more traditional Android experience. Let’s take a look at how you can make an Amazon Fire tablet look like stock Android.

First Things First: No Root Necessary!

Many customizations for Android-based devices rely on unlocking the phone and gaining root access. This is tricky with Amazon Fire tablets because they are regularly updated by Amazon, which means the retail giant could potentially fix any vulnerabilities that allowed you to gain root access in the first place.

It’s a big pain, so while there is the option of installing a custom ROM, what we’re looking at here are Amazon Fire tweaks that don’t require root access Take Control: Android Rooting Guide Take Control: Android Rooting Guide As of the writing of this guide, approximately 80% of the world's population owns their own cellphone. Out of those, 1.08 billion are smartphones. Read More .

You Need Google Play

Although there is a good choice of apps in the Amazon App Store Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better? Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better? Android comes with Google Play, but that isn't the only app store you can use on Android. Android allows users to use third-party app stores, and Amazon has stepped up with a competitor of its... Read More — including many premium titles for free — for the best Android experience, you really need access to the Google Play Store.

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To get started, you’ll need to enable Developer Options. Find this in Settings > Device Options, and tap Serial Number seven times until the Developer Options menu item appears below. Open this, and tap Enable ADB, agreeing to the warning. Finally, connect the device to your PC via USB, and unlock it, enabling Windows to download the necessary drivers.

Amazon Fire Android Style ADB

Next, head to Root Junky and select the Amazon Fire version that matches your device and download the *Install-Play-Store.zip file (we’re using Amazon Fire 5th gen, and Amazon-Fire-5th-Gen-Install-Play-Store.zip, as this matches our device).

Amazon Fire Android Style Download

Once downloaded, extract the contents and run the 1-Install-Play-Store.bat file. Unlock your Amazon Fire tablet and agree to the USB debugging request, then select option 2.

Amazon Fire Android Style Command Line

When this has completed, you’ll be prompted to reboot your Fire tablet, so do this, then unplug from your PC. After rebooting, you’ll find the Google Play Store icon (along with Google Settings) sitting beside your other apps. Tap this to sign into Google Play (or create an account) and start browsing the store. Most apps should work on the Amazon Fire tablet without any issues.

Amazon Fire Android Style Play

Remember to disable the Enable ADB option when you’re done.

Time for an Android-Style Launcher

With the Play Store installed, you’ll be able to browse through the various alternative launchers 5 More Free Launchers You May Not Have Heard About [Android] 5 More Free Launchers You May Not Have Heard About [Android] One of the great things about the Android community is that modifications and changes are always being made. Android technology is always changing, and thus, there are always new avenues to explore--and so many more... Read More available there. Nova Launcher is popular, as is ZenUI from ASUS, and the Android 7.0 Nougat 7 Reasons You'll Want to Upgrade to Android Nougat 7 Reasons You'll Want to Upgrade to Android Nougat If you're thinking about making the jump to Android 7.0 Nougat, maybe these features could convince you. Read More -inspired Nougat Launcher.

Initially, these launchers won’t work. To fix this, you’ll need to run the LauncherHijack APK, which you can find a current link to at XDA Developers. Either download it to your PC and copy across How to Sideload Any File onto Your Android Phone or Tablet How to Sideload Any File onto Your Android Phone or Tablet You may have come across the term "sideloading" before, but what does it mean? And how can you go about sideloading apps or files? Read More , or download it directly through the Amazon Fire’s Silk browser, and install it. You’ll need to open Settings > Security and enable the switch for Apps from Unknown Sources.

Amazon Fire Android Style Launcher

Once installed, open Settings > Accessibility and enable Detect Home Button Press. Press Home to enable the chosen launcher, and begin to enjoy an Android experience on your Amazon Fire!

Amazon Fire Android Style Home

If you like the Amazon Fire launcher, you can always tidy it up a bit. Open Settings > Apps & Games > Amazon Application Settings > Home Screen Settings to view the items you might want to disable. We recommend disabling Home Recommendations and Show New Items on the Home Page.

Meanwhile, you might enable Change Home Page Navigation for a more Android-y feel.

Kill the Amazon Ads

The cheapest versions of the Fire tablets will come with ads enabled. Fortunately, you can disable them.

Amazon Fire Android Style Lockscreen Ads

You have a couple of options here. The first is to gain access to the Google Play Store using the method detailed above, as that automatically removes the ads from your lock screen. You’ll see an option that removes adverts from the lock screen.

Unfortunately, the removal of ads from the lock screen is hit and miss, and, like rooting, depends on whether Amazon has fixed a particular software exploit.

Amazon Fire Android Style Unsubscribe

The second option is a bit more expensive. On your desktop, open a browser and head to Amazon’s Manage Your Content and Devices page, which you’ll also find under Your Account. Select Your Devices, highlight the tablet, then find Special Offers: Subscribed and click Edit.

To unsubscribe from special offers and ads (referred to as “Sponsored Screensavers”), click Unsubscribe now with 1-Click. This will set you back $15 (£10 in the U.K.), so you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of leaving the ads in place or removing them against your budget.

More Amazon Features You Can Disable

Amazon’s Fire OS has a few annoying “features” that you’ll want to remove for a more authentic Android experience. Head to Settings > Apps & Games > Amazon Application Settings, where you’ll find a collection of options that you can disable.

Amazon Fire Android Style Disable

These are:

Reader Settings > Push Notifications Sent to This Device — Here you can disable notifications you don’t want.

Special Offers Settings — Use this to disable Personalized Recommendations if you have left the lock screen ads intact.

Amazon Video Settings > On Deck — Disable this to prevent Amazon from downloading recommended movies and spamming you with notifications.

Manage Notifications on the Amazon Fire

Another tweak you can make is to make notifications less irritating. Special offer notifications tend to pop up daily, telling you about promotions that Amazon thinks you should sign up for, but these can be quickly and effortlessly disabled.

When one appears in the notification area, long tap on it until you see an i icon, then select Block from the subsequent menu. Some pre-installed notification area-spamming apps can be uninstalled How To Remove Unwanted Apps From Your Android Device How To Remove Unwanted Apps From Your Android Device Are there some Android apps on your device that you really want to delete, but can't? Check out these options for getting rid of them. Read More , of course, which may be a preferable option.

That’s five things you can do to make your Amazon Fire tablet feel more like stock Android. Did you try any of these? Perhaps you installed a custom Android ROM on your Amazon Fire instead? Tell us about it in the comments.

  1. Jorge
    November 28, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    Does it work on the new Fire HD 8?

  2. Jorge
    November 28, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    Does Rootjunky's supertool work on the new Fire HD 8 as well or does it only work on the Fire 7?

    • Christian Cawley
      November 29, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      AFAIK it doesn't work on the Fire 8 as yet.

  3. andrew
    November 28, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Is this legal? As Amazon can sell their devices for less with advertisements, is this against the terms of service? I'm fine with getting google play store and a nicer stock android look as I'm assuming it's legal and it doesn't hurt Amazon. Thanks for any help.

    • Christian Cawley
      November 28, 2016 at 7:04 pm

      "Unfortunately, the removal of ads from the lock screen is hit and miss, and, like rooting, depends on whether Amazon has fixed a particular software exploit."

      Most of the time ad removal doesn't work, so it's academic, really. It certainly isn't *illegal*.

  4. likefunbutnot
    November 28, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I realize the point of the article is to instruct users on making FireOS look more like Stock Android, but I would like to put forward that FireOS and its FireLauncher are actually one of the great strengths of Kindle Fire devices as a platform. Within a given generation, every Amazon Fire tablet will work identically to every other Fire tablet, unless someone goes fooling around with ADB and making deep changes to it.
    This is incredibly useful if you're the point of support for less-technical family members, even if you wouldn't be caught dead using it for yourself. That being said, the Carousel-style launcher on a Fire device is actually a pretty good user interface for document-centric access, since it puts the things you've been doing most recently front-and-center, allowing users to easily get back where they were before. There's also a "Power User" customizable Home Screen option that's accessible simply by dragging up from the Carousel, which is a more traditional array of App Shortcuts and folders, which is Android-y enough; I haven't absolutely hated the stock FireOS launcher since the 3rd Generation products were launched in ~2013.

    I fully support installing the Google Play Framework on a FireOS device; some sideload-able apps (e.g. almost anything that comes from the Humble Store that also has DLC) just won't work properly without it and in some cases there are apps that don't have an Amazon Appstore equivalent, such as Google Voice.

    If you DO want a good, consistent and Android-like launcher, I like Nova Launcher, especially since it has a working configuration backup and restore function that makes setting up multiple devices very straightforward. I also think you're better off using File Commander (an "Actually Free" Amazon Underground app) or, preferably, Solid Explorer (currently only in the Google Play Store, but that's why we're side-loading stuff in the first place, right?) rather than ES File Explorer, which is something I'd say is akin to Malware given its non-stop pop-ups and bloat. Please don't install ES File Explorer. It is a bad thing to install.

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