Held firmly in your left hand, the new Amazon Kindle Fire tablet that you might have received at Christmas or for your birthday is great for reading books, browsing the web, checking emails and enjoying movies and music. But installing new apps can be particularly trying if you don’t know exactly where to look.
As the operating system is a customized version of Android, you might expect the Kindle Fire to have access to the Android Market, but in fact Amazon has its own app store which it uses as a library of additional software, apps and games for the Kindle Fire.
The problem with this is that the Amazon App Store doesn’t work outside the USA, resulting in travellers, those with non-US credit cards and anyone overseas who received one of these tablets as a gift being unable to install new apps via either of these methods. Fortunately there are alternatives…
Using The Amazon App Store (If You’re In The US)
Amazon has made its app store extremely easy to use and doubles the pressure on the official Android Market by giving away a free app every day.
A shortcut on the Kindle Fire will display the goodies on offer in the Amazon App Store and all you need to do to download an app is open its description page and use the Buy now with 1-Click button (or Get now with 1-Click for free apps) and the software will be installed – although of course you shouldn’t do this without reading the reviews and recommendations and checking screenshots first! Note that you must have 1-Click purchasing available on your Amazon account for this to work.
A few moments later you should be able to use the app in question. Of course, if you’re not in the United States then you won’t be able to access the Amazon App Store.
Why You Shouldn’t Install The Android Market On The Kindle Fire
The most obvious solution to overcoming app installations by international users of the Kindle Fire is to find some way of installing the Android Market. In fact, you can do this but the results at present aren’t entirely stable. For instance, after spending money on movies to download and watch on your Kindle Fire you might be pretty angry to find that they can no longer be enjoyed in the same way.
Installing the Android Market requires rooting your Kindle Fire, a process that allows access to system files for particular apps. Sadly doing this and installing the Android Market results in some conflicts that cause choppy movie playback among other odd quirks that wouldn’t have occurred previously. Additionally, the Market doesn’t offer all of the apps that you might expect to find as the device doesn’t meet all of the hardware specifications required by Android.
The best option here is to steer clear of the Android Market until a version that supports the Kindle Fire becomes available.
Third Party Solutions: Opera, SlideMe & GetJar
Fortunately there are other solutions that are not region-specific.
Probably the first place you should head to is the Opera App Store, which you can open by visiting apps.opera.com in your Kindle Fire browser. You will then be able to browse for and install useful and popular apps such as Skype and Angry Birds.
Other places you might try include andappstore.com, slideme.org and m.getjar.com. Note however that for safety and anti-virus reasons you shouldn’t attempt to download any app that isn’t already available in the Amazon App Store or the official Android Market (market.android.com).
Once the download has completed, expand the Status Bar, tap the downloaded .apk file and wait for the software to install.
Clearly using a Kindle Fire internationally isn’t easy, but as this is such a popular and easy to use tablet in all other respects it isn’t hard to see why people are happy to persist.
While the procedures described here are intended to help anyone desperate to use a particular app on their Kindle Fire, going forward, you should keep your eye on the Amazon App Store. Although it is ostensibly for North American users, reports recently have indicated that international or European access is about to be granted following a short period whereby users in the UK were able to download apps.
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