Amazon Kindle Fire HD

If you thought the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7″ was a great, inexpensive tablet for $199, there might be one concern. By default, the Kindle Fire line comes with Amazon’s own fork of Android, and users are usually stuck within Amazon’s walled garden, at least in terms of the application marketplace. Sure, while you can always just side-load APKs, and you can install Google Play after rooting, it’s not the same thing as getting the full Android experience. Besides, the Kindle Fire HD still runs Ice Cream Sandwich, even as similarly-priced competitors like the Google Nexus 7 are already offering users a buttery-smooth Jelly Bean experience.

Related: Most common issues with the Kindle Fire HD & How to fix them.

In short, it’s a great for books, watching movies and playing music, especially from Amazon’s ecosystem, but if you’re used to the full Android experience, you might be missing out.

With custom ROMs like CyanogenMod, though, enthusiasts and advanced users can take better advantage of the Kindle Fire HD. But with a locked bootloader, it’s not always that easy. A recent update to efforts done by XDA developer “Hashcode” indicates that work on the Kindle Fire HD build for the 7-inch version might be going very well. However, Hashcode has admitted through a tweet that it was not very easy to develop for the Kindle Fire HD. “I figure its probably the only device harder to dev on than a locked moto.” However, updates are underway, such as audio support, which was previously non-existent.

Because of the locked bootloader, hackers will need to install a second bootloader in order to flash a custom recovery, as well as custom ROMs. This might not be as easy as plugging in your Kindle Fire HD, though, since you will be needing a fastboot cable. You can convert a USB cable or purchase a fastboot cable.

While a partially-functional CyanogenMod is already available for the 8.9-inch variant, 7-inch Kindle Fire HD users might have to wait longer. With progress going on, will the 7-inch variant remain to be a viable competitor against the 16GB Google Nexus 7, which retails for $199? The Kindle Fire line remains to be a top-seller in the Android ecosystem, and does offer a few advantages over the Nexus 7, such as an HD front-facing camera, Corning Gorilla Glass, and Dolby Audio.

For those wanting a full-fledged Android experience, would a Jelly Bean-based custom ROM for the Kindle Fire HD be something to look forward to?

Hat tip to reader Doug for the heads-up.

J. Angelo Racoma
J. Angelo Racoma has written extensively about mobile, social media, enterprise apps and startups. Angelo develops business case studies for Microsoft enterprise platforms, and is also co-founder at WorkSmartr, a small outsourcing team that offers digital content and marketing services.
  • Great article. FYI the 8.9″ is getting the support first, and each update is attempted to be replicated on the 7″, with relative success so far.

  • MasterMuffin

    Kindle suddenly looks a lot better!

  • Tablette 3G Appel
    Voici ce que maintenant on appelle une « Phablet » c’est-à-dire un mélange de téléphone et de tablette.

  • Supermanfred

    i want to get rid of the kindle OS completely and in any way possible. i don’t want the kindle home bar and there are many google apps i can’t use because the play store hack makes it impossible or because they aren’t supported.

  • Robert Chase

    It is not true that you need a fastboot cable to load the additional bootloader, but it is easy to soft-brick the Kindle Fire HD, so the cable often becomes necessary — this is the advice from the developers and my own experience.