Kindle Fire Won’t Run All Android Apps, Amputates APIs


I’m a huge fan of the upcoming Amazon Kindle Fire: priced at ridiculously low $200 (and available for pre-order), it’s sure to be one 2011’s holiday sensations. It’s rare you find an Android device that affordable, and when you do, it’s usually some overseas wannabe tablet they sell in a drug store. The Amazon Kindle, though, is fully featured. Almost.

Amazon has already stated there will be thousands of Android apps available on the Fire through the Amazon App Store and told us that they have been especially approved for the Kindle Fire itself to ensure a great Fire-proof experience. But a recent Robert Scoble comment on G+ shows that the reason all apps won’t be on the Kindle Fire goes well beyond Amazon being picky about quality:

I interviewed one company today that has an awesome Android app (millions of downloads already). They went through and demoed their new thing to me. Made me want to turn in my iPhone and go with the Android, but can’t talk about it until next week. Then they pulled out a Samsung Tablet and said “it works here too.”

That was all great, until I asked them “what about the Amazon Kindle Fire?”

They said “nope, Amazon is keeping our app from running.”


Turns out that Amazon has turned off many APIs that are available on other Android devices, so many Android apps won’t run on the Amazon Kindle Fire.

This may disturb the hardcore Android fan but I don’t anticipate it will slow sales. It’s Amazon. It’s a Kindle. It’s an Android. And it’s only $200. Now matter what way you slice the pie that’s a pretty darn good offer. Not to mention, I’m sure the masses at the Kindle Fire Forums will be painstakingly assist each other to get the absolute most out of the Fire by any means necessary.

Did you plan on buying the Kindle Fire for yourself or as a gift? Does this affect your decision at all?

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. I would imagine that for those who care much, there will be a cyanogen port soon enough that allows avcess to everything.

  2. This isn’t news. The Kindle Fire isn’t Google certified so it has no access to Google specific apis such as mapping. It doesn’t contain a camera or GPS so it has no access to those APIs. So any app that requires those APIs, which is a lot, just wouldn’t install anyway.

  3. Buy a kindle fire, make sure XDA is your #1.bookmark, and you’re good.

  4. limiting apps is not exactly the smartest thing to do. I was really hoping to get a fire for the price, but now? hmmm. This sounds like it goes beyond hardware limitations.

  5. I hate overseas tablets, those Samsung ones are cheap and nasty!

    I appreciate that the example you give is indeed cheap and nasty, but you imply that overseas = bad, which is ridiculous when every tablet and every phone from every Android manufacturer I can think of is overseas.

  6. The Fire, outside of the price, never looked that good to begin with.

  7. Root it! Problem solved. :)

  8. This is not a major issue. Most people will be using the Fire as is and thus everything in the Amazon App Store will be compatible. For those who are buying this to root and put a custom ROM on it will get the full Android API from the custom ROM and thus it’s a non-issue. Having said that, if they removed API’s that are not supported in the hardware (e.g. camera APIs) then it’s a moot point. But one does wonder why Amazon bothered to spend effort taking out API calls when they are ensuring only compatible apps are available via their Amazon App Store.

    1. I don’t think thats exactly right. I don’t think the Amazon App Store limited submissions to their Fire API subset so not even all apps in the store will work. 

      Thing I’m trying to figure out is why everybody all of a sudden evervody understands that people aren’t buying this as a full fledged tablet but when it was first launched there was all this talk of the destruction of Android tablet market. Nobody was gonna buy any other tablet except this one.

      1. Yes the Amazon App Store can contain applications that would be incompatible for the Fire but the applications visible from the Fire through the Amazon App Store would only be ones compatible for it. Same as how Android Market filters the visible applications based on the device that connects to it. Applications using the API’s not supported by the Fire would be easy to identify via the Applications Manifest and thus wouldn’t be presented to the Fire at all. Thus, taking out the unsupported API’s from the Fire’s firmware seems pointless when Amazon can control the list of compatible applications that the Fire can see on the Amazon App Store.

  9. Which apis are blocked and why?

  10. I say if you want a Fire then buy a Fire.  If you want a full featured 7 in tablet then get something else.  How a about a galaxy tab?  Nook Color?  Nook Tablet?  If you look around you’ll find a Tablet you can afford that has the ability to run a full feature set.  Rooting a Fire is OK, but you still have no GPS, no Cameras, no 3 or 4G radio.  As full featured tablet the Fire is going to be completely worthless.  But as a Kindle Fire I expect it to be awesome.

    1. I and others were saying this from day one but people swore up and down that this was a full featured tablet. Remember all the articles about how this was going to destroy the Android tablet market? I knew better time I saw the heavily guided interface. It wasn’t meant for general use.

    2. It’s taking a chapter out of Apples playbook or even the playbooks playbook.  They want to control the experience. Closed systems are not for me.

  11. I’m thinking of buying one for my kids. They all love books and playing simple, fun games. Was set on a Wii but think this may get more use. I’m not really concerned a about the technical aspect as much as the usability. Most low tier tablets are unusable.

  12. The Fire is aimed at the general public rather than those who frequent the XDA forums. Sure, the modders will get to work on it, most buyers will just assume it can’t do certain things. No amount of modding is going to enable a non-existent camera, missing gps or lack of expansion!

    As others have said, I can’t see why this device is being hyped so much by the media. It’s a low cost, crippled device – similar in many ways to the “overseas wannabe tablets”. The only reason I can think of is that it has Amazon pushing it.

    If I was looking for tablet there are an ever increasing number at a similar price point with better specs. If I want a Kindle, I would buy the e-ink version with a decent battery life and readable in bright sunlight. If I wanted a tablet, the Fire would be very low on my list.

  13. Does anyone think that the name Fire is just a bad name to associate with book reading?  Fire and books generally don’t mix.

    1. “Fire” obviously implies color, and the tablets primary purpose is not for reading books. There are 5 others Kindles that are much better for reading books.

      Of course though, I withdraw my comment if you plan on reading comics or graphic novels :)

  14. Obviously, the Fire’s the hook to Amazon’s content [pipe]line. It was designed as a purchase conduit, nothing more. Any attempt to modify the device to re-purpose it would be a little like trying to modify a tennis ball into a Swiss army knife. Buy a tablet if you want a tablet. Get a reader if you want nothing else.

    1. I think a better analogy would be trying to modify a spoon into a Swiss Army knife.

  15. Until there is a good ROM available for it, or unless you mainly wish to use your tablet to purchase things from Amazon, there is no good reason to get a Kindle Fire.

    1. Most people aren’t geeks like you are and wouldn’t even know what you mean by “a good ROM available”  Yes, Amazon wants people to use the Kindle to access Amazon content.  That’s why they are taking a loss on the price point.  But it has Facebook, Netflix, Hulu Plus, a browser and access to a ton of content.  Yeah, its not a full featured $500 plus tablet.  But not everyone needs or wants that.  I just want to use it as an e-reader and to watch TV shows and movies when I’m traveling.  I’ll have a Galaxy Nexus to do everything else.

  16. I prefer the e-ink kindles and plan to stick to those.

  17. this won’t last long. people will be returning them by the bucket-loads, if they want an android tablet, and not an ereader that has apps on it.

  18. It’s a mass market media device. It does the things that the vast majority of people who buy tablets are looking for:

    Web Browsing
    Plays Games

    I’m still debating whether to get one for my wife.  My main problem is that it doesn’t appear to have an included calendar app (she’d like to get rid of her day planner) and there’s no SD card slot to increase the number of movies it can hold.

  19. Funny that many of the above comments sound eerily similar to what ‘techies’ said about the Kindle.  B&W, no one reads, etc.  The Fire is perfect for my hubby who only needs web browsing, email and the occaisional game, my mom who only needs email and Facebook, my grandson who only needs color kids books and games and me. I’m replacing my iPad–all I use it for is Twitter, movies, email, the occasional game and the web (thankfully Safari-free).

    It is gonna do great.

  20. The purpose is for reading.  If you want more apps, just get one of the OTHER tablets available.  Ever wonder why the price is lower than most other tablets?  THIS might be why!

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