Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Laptop Magazine's Guide to Sideloading Apps on the Kindle Fire. A note on ePub support on the Kindle Fire. First KindleFire reactions

At Twitter, @merralin tweeted today a really useful article at Laptop Magazine, by Avram Piltch, on "How to Sideload apps on the Kindle Fire" - an illustrated, step-by-step guide.

  I imagine this Laptop Magazine article will be a very popular one with Kindle Fire owners :-)

  (Also see the later article with a bit more on rooting (not needed) and sideloading of app files,.

Piltch explains:
 " The built-in App store on the Kindle Fire offers a decent selection, but it doesn’t have everything.
   For example, you can’t download Tweetdeck or TripIt, or alternate browsers like Opera Mini or Firefox.    While Google’s Android Market is off limits to Kindle Fire owners, you can install apps that aren’t available on Amazon’s store by transferring them via USB (also known as sideloading)."

  And then he shows the steps (although he assumes you already have the APK program file --  the latter is briefly addressed in an excerpt that I've included below from yesterday's blog article on Kindle Fire reviews.

Laptop Magazine' guide on Kindle Fire sideloading expands, in a big way, on what I had read in reviews yesterday, and I'll add some of that here, as the subject is buried in the 9 reviews blogged yesterday, and there's a mention of  adding an APK program file.
  I recommend caution, especially if you're new to the Android scene.

  From PC Magazine's Sascha Segan who describes generally how apps can be accessed with the Kindle Fire, even if not found at the Amazon Appstore for Android (but if found there, that version would generally work better with the Kindle Fire):
' A few apps I looked for, like Opera Mobile, weren't there, but there's another way to get apps onto the device.

This is still Android, and this tablet isn't locked down.  Plug the Kindle Fire into a PC or Mac and it pops up as a disk drive; you can drag and drop files into the 6.5GB of available memory at will.  For the tech-savvy, it's a simple task to extract any APK program file from an Android phone and drop it onto the Fire.  Amazon's app store includes the free Easy Installer[*], which lets you then install those apps on the Fire.

I installed a dozen free and paid apps from my HTC Sensation 4G ($199, 4 stars) phone...[several apps were named at the full article... all worked fine.   the Gmail app and the official Facebook app (which I sideloaded) both crashed and wouldn't run during my test period.  Amazon hasn't yet expressed any problem with users rooting this device, so hack away. '
I added a quote from Segan from one of his earlier articles:
' [In fact, Amazon Silk Browser project director, Jon Jenkins, has said they're not actively stopping people from rooting it, just not helping them with it.  "It's going to get rooted, and what you do after you root it is up to you..."   Sascha Segan (who got that quote earlier) continues...]
Curiously, the Barnes & Noble Nook Android app runs beautifully if you prefer that store's book selection, although it can't download or read books that are restricted to the actual Nook tablets like most childrens books.

Also, Chicago Sun-Times's Andy Ihnatko had mentioned in his review:
'...boatloads of onboard storage [being] far less important to a Kindle Fire user than it is to a Nook user, thanks to the Fire’s intimate connection to Amazon’s cloud services.  8 gigs is enough for several books, a few movies, a couple of TV shows, several hundred songs, and a pile of photos.

  That might not necessarily be enough to last you a couple of weeks, but it’ll certainly last until you find yourself near a hotspot and can swap out the stuff you’re sick of for some alternatives.  [Only 6.5 Gigs are available for consumer files though.]

You can tick a checkbox in its Settings to allow the Fire to run apps downloaded from any arbitrary source (such as, downloading from a website or an independent repository) '

  [*] When installing the APK program on the Kindle Fire, Laptop Magazine's Sascha Piltch used the Android file manager ES File Explorer on the Kindle Fire, as you can see in his illustrated guide.  It's the one I use too on my Android tablet.   Ihnatko mentions using "Easy Installer" from Amazon's appstore.

As for getting an APK program file from your current Android device (phone, another Android tablet), if you really want to use an app install file (which might not be altogether compatible with your specific device), google lists places that offer them if you don't have one on another Android device already.

3 popular ones are getjar.com, slideme.org, and freewarelovers.com -- all of these offer their store app for you to find download their copies of good Android apps). While these are heavily frequented and mostly trusted, I wait for an app to be available in them for at least a week to see if anyone reports problems with them (in case of viruses). I haven't had compatability problems.

CAUTION Again, remember that you should find a way to make sure that the file has been checked by a group the community trusts, as there is malware in many files offered or uploaded.  So there's a risk involved.  Don't go downloading any APKs from just anywhere.  Amazon checks out their files of course. 
I'd check out the MobileRead Kindle forum on this type of thing.

Experiencing any lag time on the Kindle Fire?
A Kindle forum thread started by someone who was experiencing this, (Richard S., indicates it's not a common problem with people getting theirs today, but the person who had the problem rebooted his Kindle Fire and he posted
"NEVERMIND GUYS, I rebooted my kindle and now it's running like a boss :)"

EPUB on Kindle Fire
And slightly off the topic, Ihnatko mentioned another aspect of apps for the Kindle File - an answer for many who ask whether the Kindle Fire will be able to access ePub books (and some good 3rd-party apps make this doable for Android devices in general)  Ihnatko writes:
' I now have what I’ve always wanted: a Kindle that can open and read ePUB books.  Mantano even supports Adobe DRM . . . so at least in theory, the Kindle Fire can even import the books you might have bought from a competing digital shop, such as the Google eBookstore.
Finally, there’s an Android-based tablet computer that people can justly get excited about. '

  So, note that ePub books even with Adobe DRM (digital rights management) applied are also supportable in this way.

FIRST REPORTS on Kindle Fire coming in (and shipments talk too)
See earliest reactions at the Kindle Forum.

Kindle Touch 3G   Kindle Touch WiFi   Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
Kindle Keybd 3G   (UK: Kindle Keybd 3G)   K3 Special Offers   K3-3G Special Offers   DX

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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