The Amazon Fire tablet range continues to rise in popularity, gaining ground in what is described as a “declining market”. Is it all about the price? Are you missing out on important features found on Samsung and Apple tablets if you opt for Amazon?
Probably not. At worst, you’re missing the Google Store.
Even if you have the $50 budget version, you probably don’t expect that much from it. But your Amazon Fire tablet is far more versatile than you think. Here are some nifty tips you should try.
1. Install Google Play Store and Get Android Apps
In fact, it’s really simple to install the Google Play Store and expand the library of apps and games you can install on your Amazon Fire tablet. Over the years, this has been rather complicated, but if your device is running Fire OS 5.x, you’ll be able to install the files you need via the device’s browser.
Because Amazon’s mobile operating system is based on Android, the tablets are compatible with almost all Android apps and games. (A small number of games are intended only for specialist hardware, such as those requiring Nvidia graphics hardware).
As long as you’ve enabled the ability to install apps from unknown sources (which means any location that isn’t Amazon’s App Store), this will work. Note that even more sources for Android apps are available, but these may not be as trustworthy as the Play Store or Amazon.
Follow our guide for the full steps and install Google Play Store on your Amazon Fire device in minutes.
2. Expand the Default Storage
One of the shortcomings of the low-end Amazon Fire tablets is the limited storage. If you own the 8GB model, you’re looking at around 5GB to play with (the rest stores the operating system). That’s not much, especially if you’re keen to use the device to play games, or store videos for viewing later.
The answer is to expand the storage with a microSD card. Many people don’t realise this, but the Amazon Fire tablet has a microSD storage card slot on the side. All you need to do is purchase a suitable expansion card, then while the tablet is switched off, insert it into the slot. You can use microSD cards of up to 256 GB in the Amazon Fire.
Once this is done, boot up the tablet again. The microSD card should be detected, so follow the instructions to format it. Many apps can be installed to the microSD card.
Existing apps can be moved to the microSD card via Settings > Storage > Move Apps to SD Card to move supported apps. Music, too, can be migrated to the expanded storage device; go to Music > Menu > Settings > Transfer All Offline Music, then Transfer All to SD Card.
3. Watch Your Own Movies
With additional storage installed on your Amazon Fire tablet, you can enjoy its benefits as a portable media device. Sure, it’s a good way to make sure your tablet doesn’t run out of space, but you can also use the storage to save movies, TV shows and music from your own collection.
Taking a long train journey? Simply copy your favorite movies to your tablet and enjoy them as you ride. You can do this by connecting the Amazon Fire tablet to your computer via USB. Once detected, browse to the microSD card storage and copy the video file from your PC.
To view the video, go to Video > Library and open the hamburger menu. Scroll to Personal Videos and tap your synced personal media will be listed here. As long as it is in the right format, your video will play. (MP4, MKV, 3GP, M4V, and WEBM should all work. There is no support for AVI videos.)
4. Get Rid of Pesky Ads and Special Offers
If you have the cheapest version of the Amazon Fire tablet, it’s likely that you have to contend with adverts. Lots of them, particularly on the lock screen. So, what do you do about it?
One option is to pay to have these removed via Amazon. However, it’s also possible manually block ads from hitting your Amazon Fire tablet with the help of a special utility. See our guide on how to use and install the Amazon Fire SuperTool to remove ads.
Prefer to pay? Sign in to Amazon on your computer, then select Manage your content and devices in the footer menu. Find your Amazon Fire tablet in the list, and click the ellipsis button. Look for Special Offers, and click Edit. Here you’ll be presented with the option to unsubscribe for a $10 fee. If you wish to proceed, click Unsubscribe now with 1-click.
Enjoy your ad-free Amazon Fire tablet!
5. Perform Office Tasks
PC or laptop is out of action? Need a mobile working solution? Amazingly, the Amazon Fire is an ideal tool for mobile working. With built-in Bluetooth and a number of office apps available, it’s really easy to set up, too.
Various portable Bluetooth keyboards are available that run with almost any tablet or phone. Simply pairing one of these to your Amazon Fire tablet will put you on the road to office functionality. You’ll find a bunch of these devices on Amazon; perhaps an ultra-portable, foldable keyboard?
Once that’s done, find the office apps that you need on Amazon’s App Store, or the Google Play Store. Microsoft Office apps, Google’s Docs and Sheets, and a number of other office tools are available.
Worried about things like copy and paste? Don’t be. This functionality is built in. The Amazon Fire also comes with a number of productivity apps already built in, such as email, calendar, and calculator apps.
6. Watch Movies Anywhere!
You know that you can copy movies to your Amazon Fire. You probably also know that you can watch movies and TV shows via the Amazon Instant Video app. Perhaps you have an Amazon Prime subscription and gain the benefit of some free streaming movies and shows.
If so, and you use other movie streaming services like Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu, it might be worth using the Movies Anywhere app. This is a Disney-backed service that unifies your online video collection from those three providers. It also offers a library of free movies.
Head to the MoviesAnywhere website to find out more and sign up.
7. Stand Up
With the right case, or a useful stand, you can make your Amazon Fire tablet stand up. Even if you prefer a DIY stand, various useful alternatives can be found online.
Such stands might also have built-in charging connectors, or they may simply be basic stands for reading your tablet at a table, or perhaps in the kitchen. Whichever, it’s best to find a stand that will support the tablet in landscape and portrait mode.
In addition, many tablet cases are available for the Amazon Fire. These are usually typical “folio-style” cases, although some alternatives are available. This example features a pivot so the Fire can be propped up in landscape and portrait modes.
8. Screen Record and Screenshots
Recording the Amazon Fire’s screen is possible with third-party tools. Depending on which model you own, however, the results may not be satisfactory. Low-end 8GB models tend not to respond well to screen recorder apps, resulting in poor-quality recordings.
For the best results, try the RecMe Screen Recorder.
Need to take a screenshot of your Amazon Fire’s display? Whether you’re playing games or using the browser, taking a screenshot might prove useful. It might be to illustrate an article like this, or to get technical support for a problem you’re facing.
To capture a screenshot, hold the Power button and Volume Down at the same time. (Note: Volume Down’s position depends on the orientation of the tablet.) After 2-3 seconds, your device will capture the image on screen and save it to storage. From here, you can edit or share as needed.
Your Amazon Fire Tablet Is Amazing!
Want more your Amazon Fire? It can do more than you think. Let’s not forget, it’s also an eBooks and reading device. If you use the Kindle app for reading, you can even find thousands of totally free ebooks. Want free audiobooks? They’re available too!
How do you use your Amazon Fire tablet? Does it surprise you how much you can do with it? Tell us in the comments.