Thursday, December 24, 2015

Catching up on some Amazon changes during late 2015: OS v5.1.1 update for current Amazon tablets ... an alternate blue-shade-type app for earlier tablets ... ShowTime & Starz subscription availability for Prime members, with Amazon X-ray and voice-search features ... Unlimited Photos storage for Prime members now shareable with another adult household member... The Beatles, on Amazon Prime Music now ... Find the tune you heard in a movie or tv show. Updated 12/27 to add some details.

A few changes in Amazon features over the last few months, not often mentioned.

(The photo at left of what looks like snow in winter is actually of the marble mountains of Carrara, Italy.  The 'snow' is marble; this is where Michelangelo chose his marble for his sculptures, living there for a few months at a time -- there is marble dust in the air of course.  I took this photo in 2006, and it's from a photo set at PBase.).

Amazon has emailed everyone almost daily about their favorite products being on sale, so there was no need for this blog to call attention to those each day.  But I'll list today some of the minor changes that have been occurring, for any who might be interested in those.

Amazon's slowed down on hardware news, and their many books specials are sent to all regular customers directly on a daily basis.  If there is anything you'd like to see covered here, let me know at andrys [at] panix dot com.

General Tips - for Kindle tablet owners who are distracted by all that's available in movies and TV shows and, of course, many of us use Amazon Prime Music quite a bit ... When I see items that I haven't known about and think they'd interest others, I'll start including more generalized tips.
  Today's: I came across a "What tune was that?" website for finding music used in movies and TV, which currently includes 581 TV shows.  I saw this in a discussion of an episode of the totally amoral "How to Get Away with Murder," and -- as an example -- for Season 1 there are 15 episodes, with a total of 46 songs, and for Season 2, 9 episodes with 30 songs.

Amazon's "Blue Shade" feature was added to Yr 2015 Fire tablets in an update (v5.1.1)
Amazon has been slowly distributing, "over the air," software update v5.1.1 to its Fire OS 5 ("Bellini") operating system used on the current Year 2015 tablets.

The "Blue Shade" mode added is an option for those who like to read at night before sleeping, because studies have indicated that the blue light from current tablets and smartphones can affect melatonin production and therefore the quality of sleep. Amazon's e-Ink eReaders, back-lit, don't emit blue light.  For the most recent Fire tablets using OS 5, the new mode uses filters (adjustable in Settings) to limit the amount of emitted blue light from the screen, which some feel makes these devices more comfortable to read at night.

  The settings that control the color warmth and brightness level of the resulting light is fully adjustable by the user, and they've included an “ultra low” brightness level (which would also help any partners nearby trying to sleep).

  In connection with this, Amazon has featured the Fire HD 8 Reader's Edition, normally priced at $149.99, but bundled with one year of the $119.80 Kindle Unlimited subscription and with their $79.99 "rustic leather case" ($349.86 total if purchased separately) for $249.99.

  Other features in the recent "OS 5.1.1 update to the Yr 2015 Fire tablets are described by Androidheadlines:
' There is a new browser designed for children that users could activate on the FreeTime section, parents can choose a list of websites that would be appropriate for their children. Amazon and Common Sense Media chose over 40,000 YouTube videos dedicated for children, which they can view on the FreeTime browser. There’s also a new Activity Center for parents outside of FreeTime, which allows them to know how their kids are using the tablet and how much time have they spent on specific apps or games as well as seeing their browser history and everything they have accessed. The update should be now available now for the Fire HD 8, Fire HD 10 and other Fire tablets, although the process might take up to two weeks to complete. '

  A fix noted in update v5.1.1
Reader Irv Fullerton had reported to Amazon some problems in the original OS 5 functioning.  He followed up today with the following:
' Amazon fixed the error within the WPS office software - which now allows a user to actually access the icons at the top of each page of an open document.  For me - this was a huge fix as it now allowed me to work with spreadsheets I have saved within the Amazon Cloud...'

  What about older tablets? Some had thought that earlier Kindle Fire tablets would get the Blue Shade feature and other OS 5 additions via an update later on.  Pocket-link had stated, "The Amazon Fire OS 5 Bellini will come with the latest tablets from Amazon and will be available for older tablets via an over the air update in the coming months" -- but the development community hasn't reported seeing an indication of that yet.

  The "Twilight App" (Android) offers a similar blue-light-filter feature, and earlier-Kindle Fire owners can download this app by using the normal android-device app-install setting that allows using apps from "unknown sources" and getting apps from places like 1mobile and slideme.

  This alternate-apps-source method is called "side loading" (getting apps from a secondary apps store) and it involves no changes to the operating system, is NOT a 'rooting' method nor a 'hack' but a mere enabling of a setting to allow an alternate source for android apps while being careful to use only appstores that Amazon's Kindle Community forum members have tried and recommend.
  See this blog's guide for sideloading non-Amazon store and non-GooglePlay store apps.

  I've tried that 'Twilight app' on my Yr 2013 Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" tablet, and while it's very flexible and works well, I prefer to use the basic old, built-in "Aa" option setting of "Sepia" or 'White' with the brightness turned down, probably because I have no trouble sleeping well after using it this way.  As most will have noticed, there's also an option to read white text against black, on all the Amazon tablets, which bed parters trying to sleep during your late-hour reading sessions will appreciate.

Amazon Prime members can now subscribe to ShowTime, Starz, and more
Sacred Heart Spectrum alerts us to new offerings for Prime members looking to cut cable tv costs or to view series they've missed. (In fact their HBO Prime INstant videos allow people to catch up on earlier or initial episodes of very popular series, without needing the usual cable TV add-on subscriptions.
 For those of us cutting our cable TV use because it's so expensive, companies like Hulu have added separate subscriptions (not needing a cable TV subscription) for premium offerings like Showtime, for ~$9.  I cut my cable TV/Internet/Phone bill by $70/mo. by taking only the basic+extended cable (which includes the nation-wide news like CNN + and "edutainment" stations like Discovery Channel, etc.), and I cut any premium features, but I then subscribed to Showtime on Hulu for $9/mo.

  Now I'll probably change over to Amazon for the Showtime because, via Amazon, that'll include my favorite video feature, X-Ray for movies and for TV shows, which gives you added info, OnDemand, from Amazon's IMDB subsdiary, such as: What actors are in the current scene? (if you pause it).  The links are to fuller descriptions of what this version of X-Ray does for each.

  Amazon calls their new offering the "Streaming Partners Program," which includes 30 or more different streaming services which are 'paid' features on cable TV and would be available for Amazon Prime members for whatever extra monthly fee.  Showtime is $8.99/mo.

  The Streaming Partner subscriptions will also include a "unified voice search" when you watch it on Fire Tv (SO much better than pressing alpha-characters on those alphabetically-sorted keyboard forms).  Also, the Sacred Heart article reports that Amazon will be "making partners' newest episodes simultaneous with the broadcast."

  They add that 'Showtime produces such acclaimed programming as "Homeland" and "The Affair" while Starz is the home of shows like "Outlander" and "Flesh and Bone."  Viewers can watch them through Internet-enabled TVs and Blu-ray players, streaming media players, gaming consoles and mobile devices.  Amazon Prime keeps it all on the web and on any device with the Amazon Video app.'

  SIDENOTE: One advantage of the Amazon Fire TV is that you can mirror your tablet (though not the new $50 tablet) or smartphone display to the Fire TV to share the content with others more easily.  Most Android tablets and the Amazon-specific tablets, as well as recent Windows laptops come with 'Miracast' or "mirroring" capability.  I Was able to mirror my Windows laptop to it, along with my Windows phone (Nokia 1020) attached to the laptop -- this allowed me to view all my phone contents mirror'd on the Fire TV, even though the phone, itself, has no mirroring capability, since the laptop did.

Amazon's Unlimited Photo Storage Now Shareable by Prime Subscribers
PetaPixel reports that in addition to Prime members getting unlimited photo storage (including RAW files), this feature is now shareable with one other adult in the household.

  NON-Prime members can get this subscription feature for $11.99/year, with a 3-month free trial.
  There is NO limitation on the size or resolution of a photo file (as there are with other free-photo-storage sites) and Amazon promises not to change the file in anyway.

Amazon's Unlimited Everything Cloud-storage/backup plan
  That's for ALL files you want to have saved in the Cloud as backup - not just photos.  This includes videos, which are usually the most space-grabbing files. Normally $59.99/year (essentially $5/month), with a 3-month free trial.

  During Black Friday week, this was offered that weekfor $5/year.  Paul Thurrott explains why he found that special a no-brainer.  Even for the normal $60/year, "Unlimited" file backup is still considered good for people who need or would feel more comfortable with knowing their files are accessible in case of hard drive (or worse) catastrophes.  I haven't heard how fast or easy recovery of a file or file-set would be when needed, with Amazon's plan. But you can try that yourself with the that 3-month Free trial.

  Some sites say that if an Android tablet owner downloads the Amazon Underground app (free paid-apps) currently, s/he will receive an offer for a free-year of Unlimited Everything, within a day.  Unfortunately, Kindle Fire and Fire tablets have Underground built in .

  I do know that a friend received the following special offer yesterday based on a purchase within the last year:
  "Your purchase in the past 12 months of the "Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Digital Camera - Wi-Fi Enabled..." comes with a 1 FREE year of Unlimited Everything cloud storage from Amazon Cloud Drive (a $59.99 value)."

  She was not sure how she'd use it or if she would need such a thing, but it's a safety measure in case your hard drive dies, and most of us know this normally happens within 5 years.  I use another online backup service and it is really comforting to know everything I need is up there and I can recover any file (or version of a file) at any time.  While their pricing is similar, I'm limited to 1 Terabyte on the Non-Amazon cloud-backup I use.  Updated backups for the folders we choose are usually done automatically either daily or at any intervals you choose by any of these online backup sites.

AndroidHeadlines website announces "Best Android App 2015" and names three
#1 - the increasingly popular "Periscope" app (the broadcasting app that requires Compatibility "with Android SDK level 19),"
#2 - the Amazon Underground app
      (built into the Amazon Kindle Fire and Fire tablets
#3 - the new Google Photos app

The Beatles on Amazon Prime Music
You've probably read about The Beatles (complete music) being available online and featured on Spotify (and IheartRadio) for free, the last couple of days.  Today Amazon announced that the full Beatles catalog is also available for free on Amazon's Prime Music feature -- free streaming for Amazon Prime members.

That should do for now, as we go about celebrating, holidaying, or having some good quiet time while remembering those for whom it may not be an easy time of year for all the reasons we know.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Updated blog articles on installing non-Amazon apps and making Flash work on Year 2012-2015 Amazon tablets

Just an alert to newsfeed and Kindle Blog Edition readers

While working on a blog article on recent minor Amazon feature changes and additions toward the end of the year, I updated two blog articles to make them usable for Year 2015 Fire Tablet users who find they need to use an app that's not in the Amazon app store and want a guide to how that is done as well as those who might need to use non-working Flash on some sites.

  As a result I updated the following two articles, but blog newsfeeds (such as Feedly or NewsBlur) are not updated to show these articles as recent if they were first put online some time ago, even if they are updated from time to time after new lines of devices are released.

1. How to install Google play apps (non-Amazon apps) on a Kindle Fire HD / HDX. The reviewer Myth that the Kindle Fire tablets use only Amazon apps. UPDATED May 11, 2014, Jan 3, 2015, Dec 22, 2015

2. How to Install Flash on Kindle Fire HDX/HD, Yr 2013-2014 models and Yr2015 Fire tablets. Step-by-Step guide on How to Play Flash video on Flash-intensive websites. Several tips on streaming video. Large update 1/9/15, smaller update 12/22/15.

Amazon's last-minute deals
Last Minute Deals - US     Last Minute Deals - Canada     Christmas Deals - UK

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How to install Google play apps (non-Amazon apps) on a Kindle Fire HD / HDX. The reviewer Myth that the Kindle Fire tablets use only Amazon apps. UPDATED May 11, 2014, Jan 3, 2015, Dec 22, 2015

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 (now with 1.2 million Android apps),,,, 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 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.

  For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
Temporarily-free books - Non-classics
USA: by:
   Publication Date  
   Bestselling   High-ratings

UK: PubDate   Popular
The Kindle Daily Deal
What is 3G? and "WiFi"?       Battery Care
Highly-rated under $1,  Newest: $1-$2, $2-$3
Most Popular Free K-Books
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
   Top 100 free
   Top 100 free
USEFUL for your Kindle Keyboard(U.S. only, currently):
  99c Notepad 1.1,   99c Calculator,
  99c Calendar,   99c Converter

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

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How to Install Flash on Kindle Fire HDX/HD, Yr 2013-2014 models and Yr2015 Fire tablets. Step-by-Step guide on How to Play Flash video on Flash-intensive websites. Several tips on streaming video. Large update 1/9/15, smaller update 12/22/15

How to install flash to play flash videos on Kindle Fire HDX/HD and Fire tablets (released 2013-2015) for websites using Flash video but not offering the alternative HTML5 method after Adobe stopped active support of Flash on mobile devices

  As of January 2015, we had a quite reliable workaround now for the Year 2013-2014 Kindle Fire HDX and HD tablets and also for later pure Android devices.  This should also work with the Year 2015 Fire tablets.  I spent quite a bit of time testing various browser versions with various Flash player files recommended and settled on one combination that worked on all the websites I'd found challenging to most in the past.

    * (See EARLIER guide for Year 2012 Kindle Fire tablets.) *

WORKAROUND and Step-by-Step GUIDE to play Flash video on Year 2013-2014 Kindle Fire tablets and Year 2015 Fire tablets for sites that need the Flash-player workaround to function as expected (show videos, do customized Flash routines).
  Originally posted Dec 29, 2014 - revised Jan. 9, 2015 for clarity and Dec. 22, 2015 to add a changed setting.

  The following files have been tested with a Yr2013 Kindle Fire HDX and are for devices that use forms of Android versions 4.x and later.
  Yr2011 Kindle Fire had Adobe Flash support built in, before Adobe dropped Flash support on mobile devices.)

  These are methods of access for those who are bent on watching Flash Video or fancy Flash routines on photography and music-playing sites, etc., which make movement-oriented viewing difficult to do with today's tablets (ever since Adobe stopped support of Flash on mobile devices 2-3 years ago).

Amazon's Instant Video streaming library
  Note that Amazon Instant Video streaming works just fine with the Kindle Fire Silk web browser of course, and this feature offers a lot of video-viewing (40,000+ videos viewable at no added cost for Prime Shipping program members), and Amazon now has, increasingly, "exclusives" on popular video content and has worked on video-viewing compatibility with the larger popular websites.  I use the default Silk web browser most of the time, as a result, and use the Flash combo recommended here for video that Amazon's browser can't display yet.

For the later tablets released Fall 2013-2015
  Three files are needed and linked below, but FIRST do the following:
This combo of files works on the Yr 2013 devices and after, starting with Kindle Fire HD 7 (2nd Gen), Kindle Fire HDX (1st Gen) tablets, and they should work with the Yr 2014-2015 Fire tablets (see Current models listing.)  I'd love to get feedback on how it goes with the tablet model you're using for this.

  • Go to the 'Home' screen.
  • Swipe down (lightly pressing and pulling down) from the top of the screen.
  • That gets you the top row of moreo popular options to set.
  • Tap on "More" or "Settings" wheel (depending on the model) at the top right.
  • Go down the Settings list to "Applications" and tap on that.
      For Year 2015 tablets, Select "Security" rather than "Applications."
  • "Apps from Unknown Sources" is the first option.
          Turn ON "Allow Installation of applications not from Appstore."

Installation files have names that end in ".apk" ...

Then download and tap to install, to your Yr 2013 or later tablet, the files at the following links
  (the first one is a popular Android tablet file manager, if you don't already have it):
  1. the free file manager app, ES File Explorer

      [An EASIER alternative file-manager app for just installing app files (*.apk files) is Easy Installer, which does a search for install-files on your tablet and then shows them to you so that you can just choose which one to install without searching in file folders.

      The first time you use Easy Installer -- be sure to tap its top-right Menu: (3 vertically-aligned squares)
      Tap on 'Setting' and check the 'Scan Hidden Directories' box so that it can find hidden apk files.

    For an easier experience when just installing new apps downloaded from non-Amazon stores, use THIS file manager instead of ES Explorer where that is mentioned here.]

    Most recommend ES Explorer, which drops files into the usual "Download" folder, because you can control a lot more in connection with your files if you use it regularly, but it can be more than some care to see for just an app-install job. I use the Easy Installer for app-installs and ES Explorer for other file management functions.

  2. Dolphin's own page has the specific Adobe Flash file offered by them.  This Adobe Flash player file was put together by surviveland (to work with later Android-based tablets) at XDA forums and it's explained there (in a long, complex thread most will not want to read).

      You should install this Flash file before running the Dolphin browser file that comes next.

      The file is named "install_flash_player_ics.apk"

  3. Here's a link to the file for Dolphin browser version 11.3.4 for those who can't access Google play directly.  The file is at 1mobile (most who read this blog will already have the 1mobile appstore app, which you use in the same way you use the Amazon appstore), and you can go there ON the Kindle Fire tablet app, Search for "dolphin browser" and direct download it, and it'll be installed for you.  This is easier than doing it at other sites which require a manual install.  This is the same file that is at GooglePlay today, with Jetpack (which helps with Flash) built in.

      (But, for others, here's an ALTERNATE link for those who'd rather download the file from Dolphin's own site, offering Dolphin for Android in an earlier version than the one at GooglePlay.  If the Dolphin site downloads a version that does not have "Jetpack" built in, then you would need to also download Jetpack, which is also on that page, separately, and install both files.  Dolphin also offers a beta version there.)   but 1mobile's file above is MUCH easier to get and autoinstall, and Jetpack is built into it.

      Google play says that the Dolphin version number varies with the device. v11.3.4 works on my Yr2013 Kindle Fire HDX tablet and should work on the Yr2013-2014 HD ones also.

      (For Nexus N9 users, Dolphin told a user Dec. 23, 2014
      "Dolphin does not support Flash in Nexus 9 for now.  Nexus 9 is with the 64-bit processor. We are working on this issue.?"

  When you receive notification that the Adobe Flash Player is downloaded, run either the ES File Explorer (files will be in the "Download" folder usually) OR the Easy Installer app to find and install it.
  Tap the filename to install the file (in both cases).

Dolphin HD Browser settings IMPORTANT
When you've launched the Dolphin browser, this 11.3.4 version's menu is the Dolphin image at top right (rather than the usual washboard rectangle).  Tap it to bring up several options.
  1. Tap on "Settings" at the bottom left of the opened menu).
  2. Near the top of the list is "Dolphin Jetpack - it helps with Flash and is now built-in and you should be sure to turn it ON, with a checkmark at the left against a green background.
  3. Go down to "Web Content" and tap that.
  4. Then tap "Flash Player" -- the choices are:
    • Always on  (Videos will auto-run - easiest but it'll slow down some page loads and sometimes Flash routines will cause crashes, one reason Steve Jobs hated it).  I use this one so I don't have to turn it on when needed.
    • On Demand  That means you'd need to do an extra tap to start it when something isn't running because you didn't want it to always run.
    • Off  (I see no reason to use this option.)
  5. Other settings - ones I use, in case you wonder what might work:
      . Auto-fit Pages: ON
      . Default Zoom: 200% (Close up)
      . Open Pages in Overview: ON
  6. ALSO, make sure Javascript setting, just below Flash, is On or Enabled.
Important additional Dolphin setting: (that you can change back and forth)
On the main settings page, Customization subsetting has, in FIRST spot, "User Agent."   I tend to use "Desktop" there because I dislike oversimplified mobile-device optimized pages, which are built for small smartphones. AND some TV broadcast sites as well as (live and archived classical concerts) will run ONLY if they think you are on a desktop.  If they see you're an Android device :-), they will insist you get a mobile app that is difficult for Kindle tablet users to get from Google play.
  Youtube may run a bit smoother if you choose 'Android' setting instead, but I don't see much of a difference. Right now I can use 'Desktop' setting and see the normal youtube instead of being sent to the mobile version of youtube.

  Again, SOME TV video pages will actually not allow videos to run on Android devices but will allow them to run for "Desktop" devices or on iPads.  This is where you can camouflage your device as a a 'Desktop' or iPad  :-)  
  Remember to change it back when needing to use the Android setting though.

Then, after installing the app files and making sure that the Flash setting is set to run Flash either Always or On Demand, you'll be able to switch to the Dolphin HD browser app (if using Amazon's Silk browser by default) when needing to see a video requiring Flash.

The usual DISCLAIMER for adding files for added functionality
  As with the steps for the past two years, these are files that are for requested workarounds based on various findings by Android experts at XDA Developers Community Forums and would be considered when really wanting to view Flash video that is not working for you on some favorite sites with Amazon's built-in "Silk" web browser (which is ultra capable these days).
  Also, guides to add install files to get a missing function -- in this case, to allow the playing of Flash almost anywhere -- should be used mainly by those familiar with basic File Manager utilities (this applies to normal Windows, Macs, and Android file-manager utilities).

  There are NO software modifications and NO risky "Rooting" involved.  However, no guarantee is made, of course, that they'll function ideally on your specific device on all flash-video sites, although this type of workaround for the older models has been used successfully for over two years now (see comments) and this file combo is working really well for me on the HDX on almost all Flash-video pages.
 The degree of success of this workaround on your specific device may depend on sufficient storage space remaining, memory (do this from a fresh power-up), and healthy hardware.

Troubleshooting.   Using Restarts - I had an HD Youtube video close on me one night in October 2012 after a few seconds.  Twice, after I'd been running the browser with many tabs open.   When quite a bit has been run on a tablet, sometimes memory gets fragmented and there's not enough to hold what's needed in 'contiguous' mode and then an app will close.

 In case that might be the reason, I just powered off the device from the Home page, which will clean up the memory the same way our computers do upon power-off or restart.  After doing that, I had no problems with that same 9-minute Youtube High Definition video and played it full-screen a few times, using the Dolphin browser and the Adobe Flash Player file.

Other app stores that are recommended when Amazon does not have a particular app   Besides, popular ones are,,,, and others.  As with any appstore, you can search for an app and download it to the tablet.   This is because Amazon has always allowed the option of installing appication files "from unknown sources" despite what you'll read on large tech sites (for reasons I don't understand, since they will spend a lot of space talking about 'rooting' the tablets or doing 'modifications' on them and these workarounds require none of that.  Just a checkmark on a box.

I always recommend though that people wait a few days before getting apps from any other sites, to see if anyone is having problems with malware (even at Google Play market, when Google allows access, but Google doesn't acknowledge Kindle Fire devices).  Google doesn't take as much time to vet apps as Amazon does, to test for both malware or incompatability.

  Amazon's appstore has finally been growing fast the last year.   Of course, if Amazon carries the app, it's definitely best to get it from Amazon because Amazon does a strong vetting of the apps they offer and because it's the way they make revenue from (now the highest-quality hardware) tablets sold at closer to cost.
  They also keep for you a copy of each Amazon appstore app you download, in your Amazon Cloud area, which is useful when you are getting another Kindle tablet or if you just need to re-install the file.  I think it's important to support the Amazon Android appstore, but I also think it's important that Amazon make more good and updated apps available to us at a faster pace, and maybe they should have a suggestion box for the more popular requests

Amazon Prime Instant Video setting needing a change for tablet-viewing
NOTE - The April 26 2014 blog update added info on a setting for those viewing Amazon Prime Instant Video on tablets or phones and who, for some reason, don't see a Flash option on their tablet screens.

  The Amazon Instant Video setting for Web Player Preferences if viewing on mobile devices should be set to "Adobe Flash" rather than "Silverlight,: which is for desktop computers.
  I imagine that Kindle Fire tablets are optimized for Amazon's own Instant Video feature or vice versa.

Another browser, "Puffin" can run flash video on websites - far less smooth and doesn't play Flash during evening hours
Puffin Free Browser.  However, again, Puffin's intro cautions that it's limited to daytime use.
  "Puffin Free is the free version of Puffin family, and supports Adobe Flash during the daytime everyday (It usually starts from 8 am to 4 pm, but the duration is subject to change without prior notice)." Have left in this info because some recommend Puffin for simplicity and because it does work with Flash when the sun is shining -- and because I think this daytime allowance of Flash for the free version is so odd.  So, I've included it for the record, although its display tends to be lower-resolution than with the other browsers.  I haven't run across the paid-app version yet.

Flashfox promises Flash support but crashes on some sites;

Large popular video sites on which Amazon's Silk web browser does work currently
Amazon's own default Silk browser currently handles Youtube well by taking you to the mobile version of that site, showing you a small version of the video selected from a search and, when you click on one, shows you a full screen version of it in decent quality w/o your needing to change (via a long-press) the Youtube video gear-wheel setting at the right-bottom of a video, to change the video quality.  Its Silk tablet browser can no longer view NBC's full episodes on the tablets though.

  Youtube's mobile area was completely rewritten by Youtube to use HTML5 rather than Flash and in the recent past sometimes had a somewhat smaller selection of videos, but they're about the same now.  Amazon works with the HTML5 via their new experimental Flash-replacement streamer, described further below.
Silk CAN handle Acorn.TV (British TV shows) well in 'Automatic' reading-view setting.
With the Flash file recommended here, it is more reliable.  but that file is not necessary for the 'mobile' reading-view setting, though the 'automatic' setting is recommended.

  The current Chrome Beta browser at 1mobile appstore also runs with the current recommended Flash file, as long as you don't click the Chrone browser menu setting for "Request desktop site.  Oddly, the Dolphin combo recommended here does not run videos.

  NOTE: The general quality of streaming will be affected by the speed of your Internet connection.
  Providers of DSL home Internet access usually use a default, first-tier lower speed that's often about 1/6th the speed of cablemodem speeds, so if you love to watch Internet streamed material via WiFi network connections in your home, I do recommend cablemodem access like Comcast's.

  Video or TV broadcast Apps already carried at Amazon's appstore:
  WatchABC, which includes viewing of LIVE ABC programs rather than just after the fact, is often a boon but is now much less stable than earlier this year. Too many ads too.  CBS app is now available at Amazon but I think full episodes require a 5-day delay before they can be shown.  Let me know if that's changed. (No time to test that as I want to get this update up.)

  NBC's full episodes are available only on laptops or desktops currently, BUT Dolphin CAN show these on your Kindle File tablet when (as explained above) you set the "User Agent" to Desktop.  I tend to leave it at that setting, and I just used Dolphin to semi-watch a Dateline hour on NBC.

  Amazon's appstore also carries PBS, Smithsonian TV apps, and other TV apps.  If you Search the Amazon store for "TV" you'll also see apps for Discovery; History; WatchESPN; RAI; and several others. PBS's app is fantastic.  So is Smithsonian but there are fewer full hour shows on it.

  And then there's always Amazon Instant Video viewing, which includes downloadable files for watching offline, and Amazon keeps adding exclusive material on that feature while providing optional X-Ray background info on actors in the scene you're watching.

  Remember to be sure to use (or change) the Amazon Instant Video setting for Web Player Preferences because when viewing on tablets, this should be set to "Adobe Flash" rather than "Silverlight, which is for desktop computers.

NOTE: - Amazon's HDX tablets provide what has been described by major tech-site reviewers as among the fastest and smoothest experience on tablets today.  If multmedia files are your focus and you want them accessible on your device to play offline, get a device with more storage than 16 GB.

  I didn't want to pay a few hundred dollars for a multimedia tablet (also, magazines are huge) and wind up feeling constrained, since I also have a lot of photos on mine, so I got the 64GB one and love the freedom from worrying about space, Cloud or no Cloud.
  I think of it as a built-in SD card space.  Still, a 32GB tablet will be enough for many users.

When shopping different makers and models and analyzing costs, note that a certain key competing tablet will cost an additional $100 to get to each higher level of storage space - to 32 and to 64GB - and that tablet series does not support Flash.

  Many of us are able to view, using Amazon's own default Silk web browser, some of the main Flash-playing sites, even for network TV full episodes now, as mentioned, as Kindle Team has been working on Amazon's Experimental Streaming Viewer which works with a limited number of sites, but they are large, popular ones, and Amazon is expanding the number of websites that will be able to work with it.

  Here's my earlier introduction to the Experimental Streaming Viewer, with some initial tips that will help, though there may be some added web-browser setting changes needed via the browser menu for some.
  A KEY step is to enable "Accelerate page loading" setting in the Silk web browser menu (it's now the default setting on the HDX tablets), which automatically turns 'ON' the Advenced Setting of "Prompt for experimental streaming viewer."

Back to the Google-owned Youtube:
  A brief history of THAT dilemma brought on by Adobe's dropping of Flash support and explanation for the workaround has been moved to its own page to shorten this blog entry.

  Amazon has been able to improve Experimental Streaming Viewer so that Youtube videos and many other websites using Flash can be viewed on the Silk web browser without any special work on the part of the use.  As mentioned earlier, Amazon uses the mobile version of youtube..

  When using Silk browser rather than Dolphin, look at Silk browser's web menu Settings options and check the box to use the experimental feature if you want the browser to try to to view Flash video on a website.

***The actual ADOBE statement on Flash Player support (or not)
  for types of tablets and the Android versions involved
  is now part of the Adobe Flash Player History page.

RELATED, earlier posts on Kindle Fire tablet capabilities
   (Descriptions of Kindle 7" features will apply to the 8.9" models also.)
    . Getting non-Amazon apps on Kindle Fire devices
      (The basic models of each Kindle Fire tablet line
        have smaller storage space, limiting apps that can be run.)
    . Google Maps, Street View and other apps on my Kindle Fire,
        via enabling one device setting
    . How to play Flash on Year 2012 Kindle Fire tablets
    . Downloading and playing YouTube videos on Kindle Fire HD.
      Also, TubeMate app for Youtube will download videos to play on your Kindle Fire,
      and BSPlayer app will play almost ANY video format.
    . Using the camera and Video, Panorama mode, Time Lapses on earliest Kindle Fire
    . Add Wi-Drive pocketable disk/stream'g for Kindle models
        and for other tablet or phone devices,
        or, Portable wireless 320G Patriot Gauntlet drive/stream'g for 7" & 8.9" devices.
    . App for WiFi file transfers w/o cable.

For reference, here is the Current Global Listing of available Kindle devices.

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