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Updated: 5 Free Apps You Should Install on Your New Fire Tablet

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, 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.

ES File Explorer

  • 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.

Opera Mobile

  • 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.

ADW Launcher

  • 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 is good, but I'm still looking at it myself.

About Nate Hoffelder (11123 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

58 Comments on Updated: 5 Free Apps You Should Install on Your New Fire Tablet

  1. Ok I installed Es File manager and it let me install Groove IP but the App crashed, and crashed my Kindle so I to uninstall and reboot to get everything to work again. I don’t get why the Voip Apps are so flakey on here.

    So if anyone has any luck with Voip Apps on Kindle Fire HD, please tell me what your using and where you got it from. I want to be able to use my Google Voice number with it.

  2. For those who are using Calibre on their PCs, there are a couple of excellent apps designed to take advantage of the Calibre program’s server capabilities and serve you up books on your tablet directly from your Calibre library.

  3. I need to learn how to do that. I’ve used Calibre to change formats but I have no idea how to do the server things. I’ll have to check into it.

  4. In the tips (and user feedback from forums) posting I did last night, two users gave tips for taking pics with the front-facing camera. Note that this camera is just for focusing on your face when you’re using SKYPE which people have been begging for, for a year. That front camera on most small tablets is notoriously lower resolution but this is good enough for a pic of you from a few inches away, per others. I haven’t used it yet.

    Amazon’s Kindle Forum community has a lot of exploring types on it who come back with tips from XDA Developers and Mobileread and exploring on their own. Amazon has wide-ranging discussions in there about which alternate appstores are relatively trustworthy (even Google Market/Play apps have been hit by malware in the past).

    In my user feedback quoted, I mentioned that two had used Evernote, which has a camera app on it (I can’t imagine how awkward it is to take pictures of things behind or to the side of you. But great for photos of a couple of you together, I guess. One mentioned a good pic of her puppy :-)

    Dave 89rr at MobileRead says he too opened up Evernote and was able to take a pic with it and also used QuickOfficePro to do it while editing a doc. This and the somewhat better rated, and said to be easier to use, OfficeSuitePro are normally $15 but I got OfficesuitePro when Amazon made it a Free App of the Day. It also has a function to take a photo with a camera but I don’t know if it uses the front-facing one or not. QuickOffice was bought, though, by Google in June to enhance google docs so, long term, that should help it.

    The Evernote-taken pic was, he said, 768 by 1024 pixels, 72 dpi, bit depth 24. Nexus uses a 1.2MB VGA camera and doesn’t come with a native camera app either. (And for $200 it has only 8 GB of storage, which means I would spent $249 for the 16GB but in my case I will go with the 32GB Kindle Fire for my portable. Not to mention I do use mine for videos more than anything else, and the effective dual-speakers with Dolby make a huge difference against one mono speaker for earbud-free listening.

    The anti-glare process they use (laminating something) is, as I think you pointed out, pretty effective for wider viewing angles and better contrast and perceived color saturation, and earlier reviews by real tech people emphasized things that matter like relative strength of WiFi signal vs those who used the opening sentence that the 7″ was not the best hardware thinking they were quoting Bezos on that (they weren’t) and these were openings by the least technical of columnists, who also gave the shoddiest reviews with many errors.

    Thanks for letting people know how to install apps from elsewhere. Review after news-review says Amazon users cannot install apps from other than the Amazon store. But that’s why people come here, because you go way beyond the usual.

    I’ve used ES-File Explorer on KFire from the start but found that other people find that File Expert (on Amazon) is easier to understand. With ES-Explorer you get real innards flexibility but some have found it hard to find their downloaded file. With File Expert, if you download something, you can find it in the first choice of where to look and under “\downloads” — and if you click on it will start the installation process if you approve that.

    Others use Astro.

    Re Dropbox. I agree and use it a lot when traveling, as there are many private files I don’t want on Amazon’s servers. I signed up for’s too when it gave free 50Gigs for ever if you sign up but they have very low daily transfer limits so I don’t use it often.

    Thanks for the tip on the Overdrive app for audiobook access. Did not think of that.

    Re Browsers, I put several on, but my default browser (if I choose one, and sometimes I’d rather choose, from the option popup, which one to use for different needs) is Dolphin Browser HD (remember that most of these make themselves privy to all your personal info like your entire contact list in Permissions). It’s for me by far the most flexible and I can go onto video networks that have few rights to show video to Android devices but it lets you set your browser to ‘user agent: iPad’ or user agent: Desktop’ to view those.

    Amazon’s Silk, I tend to use this -without- its special feature of pre-fetching stuff from familiar sites (I turn it off), because it doesn’t accelerate things for most sites I go to and doesn’t try to figure out which sites you use most to pre-fetch things for you (which would take time too). Sometimes it’s much faster for places you and others like but I find it’s slower for most places I’ll go. That was with old KFire and I haven’t tried it with new KFireHD.
    The plus of Silk is when you get to a web page and want to read the main article on it, Silk will show you the icon for eyeglasses to indicate you can read this in Article View, with larger, well laid-out text and with striping of ads and surrounding links. It’s very nice. So I use Silk for those cases.

    Normally, double-tapping on any webpage article will get me a size and edge-wrapping that I want, but the default text looks smaller to me on KFire2 and sometimes I have to set Zoom to ‘Close’ rather than normal to get what I want when using double tap. That’s in the Dolphin menu of course.

    When a site is too fancy and has all kinds of popups for you to fill in, like hotel reservations pages when you are travelling and want certain dates, most mobile-device browsers will have a very tough time, and that’s when I use Opera Mobile.

    But a 7″ browser will usually do better on ‘Desktop’ mode and when avoiding all the dull and feature-free mobile-version pages as long as you hold the KFireHD in landscape version. I personally can’t stand Facebook or Twitter apps and just go in, using web version on Dolphin ‘Desktop’ mode.

    And, remember, KFireHD, in Landscape mode, means you hardly EVER see the “Recommended for you” in the lower portion of a portrait-mode page.. But another way to avoid Recommendations is to click on the star on the right-bottom of the page and get your Favorites showing instead, which also helps you to almost taskswitch that way.

    I think Amazon really had better make ‘Recommendations’ a settings-choice rather than what they’re doing, which will work against them.

  5. I have been addicted to the game Bubble Shoot and it doesn’t run on the Kindle Fire HD even though it is in Amazon’s Appstore.

  6. I’m not surprised that you didn’t know about the recommendations because you preferred landscape; I have a preference for portrait so it makes perfect sense that some prefer the other orientation.

    And if we’re comparing the Nexus 7 (not that the comparison is valid), support for Google apps like gmail and google reader is a point in its favor. Those apps won’t run on the KFHD because it deliberately lacks some core part of Android. And then there are the several other apps which won’t run on Amazon’s custom version of Android, which is another few points.

    And BTW, the Download folder is as easy to find on ES File Explorer as it is in any other app. It’s the folder labeled downloads (starts with a D). It’s rather obvious – on the KFHD, at least.

  7. Tyler, let Bubble Shoot makers know that it’s not compatible with the new KFireHD. If there’s any money involved, they’ll make it work.

  8. It was on the marketplace and now it’s gone. I side loaded it and it worked fine. Amazon did not let it get installed.

  9. the amazon site states that little photo is not compatible with the KFHD. does it actually work on the device?

  10. That’s where I got it.

    Edit: And now I see it’s not compatible so I’ve replaced the link with one that is compatible. Thank you for catching that.

  11. Tyler, just want to get this straight. Most of us straight-download non-Amazon, non-GooglePlay-direct files right onto our KFires w/o sideloading via USB cable or whatever.
    Amazon does let other-sourced apps get installed as long as you approve them for install (as you must have done in KFHD Settings).

    I guess Amazon just didn’t allow a straight install from their shop for the new KFire HD. That happens when they’ve not tested something yet, vetting for all kinds of things, including compatibility and malware (so they take forever and sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised what they do allow).

    Same thing is happening with KFire 1 apps that have not been modified for KFireHD yet. Many.

  12. no problem. thanks for updating the link.

  13. Like Andrys says above I too use the Dolphin browser on my KFHD. Haven’t used Opera, so wouldn’t know how they compare performance wise. As far as a file manager goes, I’m happy with ES File Explorer. Why not use ES File Explorer to access the camera? That way you can avoid using Little Photo?

  14. wonderful folks, I can turn on and off a kindle, thats it. Its my hope you can provide some simple assistance and or links. Im getting a hd for 66th birthday and really wanted it for reading, visiting a few web sites( fb, orchid lovers, woot , yahoo etc). Read the above and have saved it, but would like to watch tv shows both us and Can./UK. any information on using my yahoo and gmail accounts would be appreciated. thank you im new to all this posting stuff so bear with me please

  15. George D. (Dave) Ballentine // 31 October, 2012 at 12:51 pm //

    I need the 7 inch Kindle Fire HD WiFi model to allow me to use it to access my Ebay and Amazon sales going on and to be able to receive sold notifications, print out packing slips and postage labels just as I do presently with my laptop. Unless and until I can do that, I’m not buying this just to download books and / or videos. That means it has to be able to access printer support sites, download drivers and SW and print via my WiFi router.

  16. Where Is Opera Shortcut? I downloaded Opera and ES file manager per your xlnt suggestion. Is there an Opera shortcut somewhere or do I have to first access bookmarks via Silk? I already loaded some bookmarks in Opera but don’t know how to access Opera. Thank you

  17. Opera is accessible via the apps menu.

  18. Chrome. Via sideloading snuff said.

  19. Hello! I just received a KFHD for Christmas, and I’m having trouble with Aldiko. All of the epub files I have loaded onto the device only show up as blank pages. I have the table of contents, and the page numbers will load and the info is complete, but no text. Does anyone else have this problem? Is the standard version of Aldiko currently running for everyone else? Thanks!

  20. I cannot get Facebook birthday list to sync into many calendar any help Nate???

  21. everytime I go to disney jr website on’m my kindle fire, it opens it for a second and then directly goes to disney videos website . any one have any idea why I can’t open disney jr?

  22. kelly – were you able to fingure out the disnewy jr app problem. I am having the smae issue

  23. If I had to guess about the disney question, if it’s not a error with the KFHD then is the disneyjr website closed down; therefore any traffic to that site is redirected to the disney videos website. Try on a desktop or laptop to see if the same thing happens.

  24. Justin – Thanks for your response but it works every time on my computer..wondering if it doesn’t have adobe??

  25. I can’t seem to load the Aldiko reader onto my 7″ Fire HD. Am I missing something? Is this now really not possible, or is it just kind of not obvious?

    I’m mainly an Amazon customer, but Amazon’s not there yet with foreign language materials and I’d like to be able to buy & read current European bookson my Fire HD. Some titles from European sites actually are available to users in the US. Amazon seems to be the stumbling block, here.

    I love my Fire HD. I don’t want to put it down. But if I won’t be able to load an EPub reader to tide me over on the foreign stuff until Amazon gains the ability to sell it to me, I may have to pop for one of the Kobo devices that are so reasonably priced these days. Makes me wonder how Amazon would feel about losing my eyes *completely* for significant stretches of time. It’s not even sane to imagine that I might read exclusively in English, so they definitely will if loading an EPub reader is truly impossible. PDF ebooks are a complete non-starter.

  26. I am confused. I have the camera app installed in my kindle fire hd. but I have bought many photo editing apps in amazon. it sais that they are on my device but I can’t find the apps. I’ll take a picture and there is no editing options or anything. what do I do?

  27. What do you mean, you can’t load it? I need more detail before I can respond.

  28. I’d also like to know about this to.

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