How to Install Google Play apps (Non-Amazon Apps) on Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets Updated
The stubborn MYTH that Kindle Fire HD tablets can use only Amazon Store apps
Here are screenshots from Google Maps and Street View apps on my older Kindle Fire HD 7"
Google Map of San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco & Marin County areas
Via Street View app, here's the Presidio area.
A quick look at Yosemite Valley
(Click on an image to see the larger version.)
Most large tech site reviewers don't know that Amazon allows installation of apps from non-Amazon sources, though Amazon advises caution.
(Originally posted Nov. 23, 2012 - rev'd 3/8/13, 1/3/15, and 12/22/15)
More tech-site reviewers have been discovering that Kindle Fire HD tablets (when chosen with enough storage space) are IN NO WAY limited to running only Amazon store apps. Many will feel more comfortable staying with just the Amazon appstore, nevertheless.
Amazon Kindle Forum regulars often discuss how easy it is get the normal Google Play market apps at other appstores when those apps are not available at Amazon and they also exchange experiences on some other app-stores
I always recommend, though, that people wait to get these from any sites (true for even Google Play market users as well) until they've been up a few days and no one is having problems with malware or just new-update-instability. Google vets their apps now but can take less time than Amazon to do that -- they have a lot more apps to deal with.
Kindle Fire HD comparison reviewers almost automatically say that the Amazon tablets can use only Amazon apps and therefore should not be considered except by Amazon customers -- but this kind of statement can come only from NOT taking the time to check the normal Android settings.
(Updated 5/11/14 to show one different settings-location for older and newer Kindle Fires.)
(Updated 12/22/15 to show the new settings-location for Yr 2015 Fire tablets.)
One click on one settings box is all it takes.
It's much easier than most would guess. At the Top Row Toolbar of the Kindle Fire:
[For EARLIER, Yr 2012 Kindle Fires (Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, 1st Generation)]
Swipe down to get Settings / More / Device / and then merely CHECK the box that says:
Allow Installation of Applications from unknown sources
[For LATER Yr 2013-14 Kindle Fires (Kindle Fire HD, 2nd Generation+, and HDX line)]
Swipe down to get Settings / More / Applications / and then merely CHECK the box that says:
Allow Installation of Applications from unknown sources
(The wording for Yr 2014 MAY Be Allow Installation of applications not from Appstore.)
[Updated December 22, 2015 after solution found for the Comment section in October 2015]
[For LATEST Yr 2015 Fire tablets line) ]
Swipe down to get Settings / Security / and then merely CHECK the box that says:
Allow Installation of applications not from Appstore.
although the wording might be somewhat different.
I didn't order a Year 2015 device and can't check the exact wording.
That's it! Then you can go to other app stores that are recommended for apps that Amazon does not have, such as 1mobile.com (now with 1.2 million Android apps), slideme.org, handango.com, m.getjar.com, and others, to find and download the app.
To install a downloaded app, use either ES File Explorer or Easy Installer from Amazon's Android App store (or, if you're not in the U.S. and aren't allowed to use Amazon's appstore, then from a place like the 1Mobile.com site, using their store app on your Kindle -- it's downloadable at the right side of most 1mobile pages). Above is a list of other app sites as well when any app is not available using the Amazon app store.
Easy Installer's only job is to hunt down your downloaded app-install files (*.apk), so it's very useful if you can't find, on your device, an app that you know you downloaded.
Be sure to access Settings the first time you use it, to check the 'Scan Hidden Directories' box so that it can find apk files no matter where they were put.
Important UPDATE - See later version of the instructions for Google Earth + an alert to NOT get the Google Earth update that came out mid-December and a link to get the much faster version just before that update. (I've not tried later versions to see if Google solved that loading problem but they likely did.)
Amazon's appstore should be supported though
Of course, if Amazon carries the app, it's best to get it from Amazon because they do a strong vetting of the apps they offer and because it's the way they make revenue from tablets sold at cost. I think it's important to support the Amazon Android app store, but I also think it's important that Amazon make more good apps available to us at a faster pace, and maybe they should have a suggestion box for the more popular requests.
An example of another app that regulars at the Amazon Kindle Forums have been getting and encouraging others to use as an alternative (sometimes with the recommendation of "Forum Pros" there)...
How to Install a Flash Player on the Yr 2012 (and 2013-15) Kindle Fire tablets:
On Oct. 22, 2012, I first gave some installation steps that included the need to to tick a checkbox to enable apps from other sources (as mentioned above) and listed step-by-step instructions for the Earlier Yr2012 tablets on installing the Flash player function. This was in connection with an alternative browser (Dolphin) along with the one Adobe Flash Player file that has been sure to work with Android 4.x (before v4.4) mobile systems that Adobe no longer supports for the later mobile devices -- the Kindle Fire HDs and the Google Nexus -- or is that Nexi?) :-)
There is now a LATER article with step-by-step instructions for the Yr 2013-2015 tablets.
It's been working reliably for me.
Most won't need this alternate browser (unless wanting to run flash routines for photography and music on some multimedia websites or watch network TV shows that are made available for those who missed a recent showing on TV) as I often do or who find some of the TV apps unreliable.
UNLIKE Youtube, which supplies HTML5 coding for videos if you don't have a working Flash player, TV networks still tend to use Flash-only for their larger videos. They'll slowly change over, but until then, this is a good workaround, although some of their own TV-app updates have been unreliable, causing crashes -- and they have too many ads during shows. The "live' features are good.
The TV-app versions require, though, that your cable or other hosting company is a participant for the app. The tendency today is to force viewers into mobile-app viewing where the bandwidth needed for display size can be smaller and where they can keep stats on the many ads and the effectiveness of them. They're probably starting to use them in some reporting of audience-share too. They turn away "Android" browsers from the website versions and require the TV apps more and more.
NOTE: With Amazon's Kindle Fire Silk web browser (no Flash player support on that), you can still reliably view the Youtube videos if you have your "Silk" web browser menu settings for Requested website view set to "Automatic" rather than to "Desktop," although it takes you to the Mobile layout as a result, but youtube has enhanced that area. (The Silk web browser Menu looks like the usual tablet menu rectangle with 3 horizontal lines, resembling an old washboard or an air conditioner.)
Amazon is due some high marks for the "other-sources" apps-decision (not walled as is said).
Amazon made this decision starting with the original Kindle Fire. Use Amazon's app store when they have the app - it's in the Cloud and gets vetting for the Kindle Fire tablet.
[Note re other alternatives which I can write about later if there's interest]
[1.] I've used the long-time APK-downloader by evozi group in Canada, when one is able to do that due to quotas they are under for bandwidth.
It's not as direct a download method as is using a store like 1mobile, and the site is filled with ads that promote ad-focused software that can be annoying and it's best to avoid clicking on those.
When the evozi site, which downloads from googleplay on behalf of the user, cannot fulfill requests due to quotas, they recommend the Chrome extension version. That one requires your google password be passed through to them, and they promise that this is not stored and is only passed through. They're a company in Canada, but that is a step of trust most may not be comfortable with. If I feel like using them, I instead use their website version that requires having two windows open (for double-checking you're getting what you want) and doing copy and pasting. I prefer direct downloads better and have had 2 years of good luck with 1mobile's store, with its 1.2 million apps that you can just download the way you do from Amazon's store.
[2.] Some Google-play apps now require Google-play Services be present.
As an experiment, I tried steps from an article that tells us how to install Google Play Services on a Kindle WITHOUT "Rooting" or any Kindle software modifications. Four files need to be added and installed in just the proper order and reboots done after each step, but enough people manage to ignore some steps and wind up with non-working google files and unable to easily get rid of Google error messages with their leftover Google files.
So I don't recommend this for 98% of other customers. Their Comments area shows too many people who didn't get good results, although there are a few others, like me, for whom this works. I'm not keen to contribute to that, as the apps that require Google-play services are few.
However, it works well on my Yr 2013 8.9" HDX and I updated the Play Services file with the most recent one and also used a higher-DPI version than the author did. (This is NOT a Store app -- the Google-Play store cannot be placed on a Kindle without rooting it, which I won't do since I bought the Kindle Fire for the great Amazon features). The only downside for me is that when you load a Google app that needs those special Google support services or when you land on one of the app's main pages, you'll get a dialog message saying that some apps require Google Play Services which "your device does not support."
Then it goes ahead to run the app just fine because the support files are actually present as add-ons.
I can write more on this if a few people are interested but I don't recommend it for most Kindle owners, whose attraction to the Amazon tablets are their many unique and unususal features along with ease of use.
While there is NO rooting and there are NO Kindle software modifications involved, I did see how many people missed steps from the article and wound up with Google Play Services error messages they can't disable once they just gave up and removed what they could.
Amazon would not want to support customers placing themselves in that predicament. Most Kindle owners wanting this kind of thing should get a cheap pure-Android tablet to supplement the Fire tablets that have so many other useful features.
I'm mentioning this on the non-Amazon apps page only so that interested readers have an idea what -is- possible without rooting but which can still be problematical for people not used to working with files and installs that have to be done in the right order.
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