Kindle Fire gets the Google Game On

Posted: January 3, 2012 in android, tech
Tags: ,

My beautiful wife got me the Kindle Fire for Christmas. I’m having a lot of fun with it and really enjoy it. So much so I haven’t read a book on my Kindle Keyboard in days.
The Fire is great for PDFs with a lot of detail like the Pontiac repair manual for my Fiero, the installation guide for the stereo, etc. The Fire can zoom in and scroll around very gracefully. It’s perfect for that. And probably comic books if you are in to that sort of thing. I found a few digital versions of Tintin that I enjoyed as a child and like them on the Fire just as well. I imagine I will continue to find new uses in the days to come.

But I did find a weakness. There are no Google apps!
No Google Voice, no Google Plus, very little Google anything on the Fire or Amazon Android Marketplace.
Understandable I suppose. Google can’t very well send their apps to a competing app store…

The browser based versions of the apps work pretty well in the Amazon Silk browser but I want my push google-foo. I need them… And they can work if you are willing to do some steps.

I found several articles that got me close, but nothing quite on how to exactly what I wanted. I really didn’t want to break the Amazon media, cloud, or Market places. So easy does it and the result is that these appear to still be working for me. Some might think it’s a sacrifice to give up the Google Android Marketplace but I felt it would be more of a sacrifice to lose the Amazon connectivity.

I think I was able to achieve an equitable balance between both worlds– Amazon apps and marketplace but with my Google apps running. I suspect that I may be able to download APK’s from the Google market and install them manually. As a bonus I think I may have also found a nicer interface than the Carousel. There is more to be discovered!

Here are the steps:

1. Install “File Expert” from the Amazon Marketplace. It’s free and very handy.

This will allow you to explore the files on the Fire and ultimately install downloaded APK files.

2. In your Fire preferences go to Device, and then turn on “Allow Installation of Applications from unknown sources”.

This is necessary or the Fire will not install the apps from outside the Amazon market.

Now, we will Root the Fire — the apps won’t run right if the Fire is not rooted. I tried and Voice ran but nothing else.

So we will (but not yet) be following the steps at RedmondPie for rooting the 6.2.1 update.

First, your PC needs to be prepared to assist in the rooting process. I picked up these steps from another article that almost completely does not apply to this version of the Fire.

3. Install the latest Java Development Kit from Oracle on your PC.

4. Download and install the latest Android Development Kit on your PC. The download part is easy. However the install part does require checking to make sure you install the USB options. I recommend using this article but only steps 6-8 to get it installed and the USB driver setup correctly.

5. I had to update the device driver for the Kindle in Windows. Plug in the Kindle if it isn’t and bring up Windows Computer Management (right click on “My Computer” and select Manage), expand Devices and locate Kindle. It was yellow/exclamation mark because the driver was generic. Right click and select Update driver, choose the option to specify a driver (not online) and browse to c:\Program Files\Android\Android-sdk.

6. Now we will get Root! This article at RedmondPie works perfectly for rooting the 6.2.1 update. Well, almost. They glossed over some steps that beginners need.

Read the article and download the two files specified (BurritoRoot APK, and the Rootzwiki). Unzip the Rootzwiki so that you can specify the path to the files from the command line. They can go into your downloads folder or into a shorter path like c:\temp.

Copy the BurritoRoot APK file to your Fire. When the Kindle is connected it should have a Drive letter. I copy all of my downloaded APKs to the “downloads” folder on the Fire so do this now.

Disconnect the Fire and install and execute the app on your Kindle using File Expert. However, ignore the instructions from the Police app that pop up on your Fire. Follow the directions at RedmondPie closely, as they expand on what the Burrito Root APK will tell you when you execute it on your Fire. The “push” and “install” commands will need to the path to “su” and “SuperUser.apk”.
It will look like this:

C:\Program Files\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools>adb install \Users\kevin\Downloads\Android\superuser-2\Superuser.apk
1143 KB/s (785801 bytes in 0.671s)
        pkg: /data/local/tmp/Superuser.apk
Success

7. Now that your Fire has rebooted you should be running as root. Check that your Amazon apps still work before proceeding. The most difficult part is over. Take a breath, relax, make a mocha. 😀

8. I found the following article about getting the Google Framework app pack installed, and while it mostly did not apply since their goal was to use the Google Android Marketplace there are some important steps that I used, and a download. My understanding is that following their steps completely will break the Amazon market and apps so only use the first step of the article and the link to gapps.

So, download that RAR file and uncompress it with 7-zip. Inside the resultant folders are APKs for Google apps. There are two for Google Framework (Framework and gsf2) that you will need, and whatever else you want. I installed Mail (gm2), Voice, Talk, Plus, maps, and street– but not the Vendor market place. I did install the gau Launcher APK and I think I like it better than the Carousel.

Did you try it? Did this help? did you have different results? Post your results or comments here.

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