It was Cyber Monday, 2012, and Amazon was offering a deal on their Kindle tablets. I quickly snatched up a 2nd-gen Kindle Fire for my mom’s x-mas present, as she (like everyone else this holiday season) wanted a tablet. When the unit arrived a few days later on the doorstep, I immediately had my greedy little paws on it. It didn’t take long to realize that this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting in the Kindle Fire.
I went directly to the Amazon app store and tried to search for Google Maps. Oh wait, did I miss something? Ok, stay calm. Try looking for the Gmail app. What? Wait…oh crap. I felt defeated..my nerd skills had failed me. I didn’t know that I couldn’t install Google apps on the Kindle Fire. Epic fail.
So I instantly set out to find a way to get Google apps on the Kindle. Because this was a present for my mom, I didn’t want to change things too much; the Amazon interface is actually pretty clean and easy to use for first time tablet users. Rooting was an option, but I wasn’t too keen on installing a custom ROM, even though there are some awesome Jelly Bean based ROMS out there. But I just wanted the functionality of Google apps like Maps, Voice, Talk, Music with the stock Amazon interface.
After a little research, I found a few different methods of getting some Google apps on the Kindle Fire. Since the architecture of the newest Kindle Fire is closer to the Kindle Fire HD, I researched methods for modifying the Kindle Fire HD. Without rooting, I found a way to install a few Google Apps, such as Maps, Gmail, Youtube and Currents. Even though the Maps app lacks a little functionality (no pinch to zoom or saved maps) the others work flawlessly. Xda-developers forum member abhijitxp modded these apps, and his guide can be found here. Before proceeding, make sure that you have gone to Kindle Fire Settings and enabled installation of applications from unknown sources, and that you have a file browser like ES File Explorer installed. Here’s how it’s done:
1. Download the Google Files here
2. Unzip files
3. Transfer files to Kindle Fire
4. Open up ES File Explorer and install GoogleLoginService.apk.
5. Restart Kindle
6. Open up ES File Explorer and install the apps.
I know, it’s only a handful of apps, but it’s better than nothing, and I’m sure the folks at XDA will have some more apps for us soon. Supposedly, if you root your Kindle Fire you can get full functionality, and if it was my device, I would root it for sure. But for a mom, this is good enough. If you’ve got the gumption to root your Kindle Fire, a great guide can be found here. Happy Holiday hacking!