It looks like the 7" Kindle Fire HD will be following in the footsteps of the original Kindle Fire in capturing a large part of the Android tablet market in the US. Sadly, Amazon also repeated the mistake of not including a number of basic apps which I for one need on a regular basis.
Here's a handful of apps you''l probably need on the KFHD, including a couple very basic apps like a camera and a file manager. Yes, the KFHD doesn't have an accessible camera app. Apparently Amazon didn't realize that you'd want to use it.
Fix the Settings
First things first. You'll want to allow for installing outside apps and you'll want to change the default search engine to Google. You can find these options by first pulling down the notification bar on the upper edge of your Fire tablet home screen. Press the settings button.
Scroll down for the Apps & Games sub menu. Select the "Amazon Apps Settings", and then select the Silk option. Finally, select the search engine. Change it to Google.
- This isn't just a petty anti-MS suggestion; I've been playing with Bing on this tablet and I find it laughably inept for the simple reason that it does not find what I am looking for. For example, I searched for "Dropbox app" and the first few results were from box.net, one of Dropbox's competitors. Funny, yes, but clearly not what I was looking for.
Back out a couple menus until you get to the Settings menu again. Scroll down and select the Device submenu. Select the "Allow Installation of Apps" option and change it to On. now you'll be able to get the Apps you need.
Install Some Apps
The first few apps are available in the Amazon Appstore, so you shouldn't have any trouble installing them.
- Amazon doesn't exactly make it easy to find the various files, folders, and apps on your device, and frankly the main menu carousel is only good for basic operations like opening an app. For anything beyond that you need a file manager. This is one of the good ones, and I recommend getting it so you can access parts of your KFHD which Amazon doesn't think you should use.
- The KFHD has the same support for library ebooks via OverDrive as the rest of the Kindle platform. But it doesn't support any of the audiobooks offered by OverDrive's library partners, and it specifically lacks support for ebooks from Penguin because that publisher refuses to allow it. So if you want the full range of content support you'll need to install the OD app.
- On the upside the app will also let you search for and download ebooks and audiobooks from inside the app. That cuts out a couple steps, which is nice.
Next up are some apps which you will have to find elsewhere. At this point you might want to pause and continue reading this post on your KFHD. It will make installing the apps easier.
- Amazon includes access to the Amazon Cloud Drive in the price for the KFHD but I prefer to stick with my existing setup at Dropbox. For this you'll need to go to the Dropbox website and download the app from them.
- The KFHD ships with the Amazon Silk web browser but it's just not cutting the mustard for me. Luckily there are quite a few other web browsers for Android. Unfortunately not all can be found easily. There are a bunch in Google Play, but we cannot get them yet, and there are bunches in the Amazon Appstore, but Amazon won't let you install them on your KFHD. So that leaves Opera as the easiest browser to find and install.
- You can choose between Opera Mini and Opera Mobile. I'd choose Mobile because while both apps will let you use Opera's servers to speed up your browsing experience the Mobile version also lets you turn off the acceleration. That option could be useful at some point.
- Note: If your KFHD refuses to install this app, don't worry. Open ES File Explorer, select the Downloads folder, and then double click on the Opera icon. The app will install, trust me.
- I have lately come to feel that one should always use the best and easiest way to read ebooks. If you like reading DRM-free ebooks from websites like O'Reilly, PG, Munsey's, or more, download the Aldiko app. It supports Epub, not Kindle, but when it comes to downloading free ebooks it is much easier to use than Amazon's own Kindle app.
- Don't like the home screen on the Kindle Fire HD? This app acts as a replacement home screen. It will let you arrange the icons however you like, but it doesn't quite work right with the KFHD's ebook library.
But That's Not All
The above 6 apps are the ones I wanted the most, but they are by no means all the apps you might need. I left out some obvious choices like Facebook and Twitter as well as media apps. The KFHD doesn't support all the audio and video formats out there, but I'm not familiar enough with the what's available to make a recommendation.
What would you recommend for media apps? They have to be easily findable online or available in the Kindle Store.
I also left out competing reading apps. Amazon won't let you install the apps from the Amazon Appstore, and they are not easy to find elsewhere. I'm told that 1mobile.com is good, but I'm still looking at it myself.