Monday, 29 August 2016

RWD & Mobile App Dev Weekly - August 29, 2016 at 05:57PM

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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Product Review: Fire Tablet, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB (Black) - Includes Special Offers ...

Putting the Google Play Store on it Makes it Worthwhile

I bought this through the Prime Now app, when it had a £10 off your first order over £30 offer on. The Kindle Fire was £39.99 at the time, so ended up being £29.99.

Previously, I'd discounted ever buying a Kindle Fire because of all the reports about only being able to get apps from the Amazon App Store and there not being many apps in there, but I decided for £30, it was worth a try. Also, at the time, there wasn't an Amazon video app for Android and I wanted to watch Prime videos while travelling.

I don't carry a tablet around with me all the time. I only use it for entertainment while travelling, so I need it to work offline. I looked on the Amazon App Store, when the tablet first arrived and was pleased to see that the majority of the apps that I use were available, including a couple of games that I play for entertainment when travelling. However, the Google Chrome browser was not available and the Silk browser that is built in is terrible. A lot of websites just don't work in it at all.

As I mostly intended to use it offline (e.g. on a plane), I could live with the terrible browser because I wouldn't use it much anyway, but the first time I travelled with it, I found another fundamental flaw with the Amazon App Store; You can only use your installed apps, if you are actually signed in to the App Store at the time and you can't sign in offline. So this stupid rule renders most apps useless offline, which is a big problem for me because I bought this mostly for travelling. The Amazon Video app did allow me to watch my downloaded videos, but most other apps wouldn't work. The time between checks seems to vary, some would work for an hour or so, or a day, some wouldn't even launch.

As soon as I got back from my first trip with this, I Googled how to install the Google Play Store on a Kindle Fire. It involves changing settings, connecting it to a PC and downloading and installing software to both your PC and Fire. I am not suggesting for a second that any of you do this. It will probably invalidate your warranty. I am just being honest about the fact I did it.

Once I got the Play Store on there, I uninstalled everything, except Amazon's own apps and reinstalled them from the Play Store. I now have a decent browser (Chrome) and a tablet where all offline apps always work and I still have the ability to download Prime videos. I've gone from being very frustrated to thinking it's the best £30 I've ever spent.

So why only 3 stars? Well anything that requires hacking to make it work doesn't deserve 5 stars, it can be a little slow to start up and initialise your SD card, and the Amazon App Store rule that you have to be signed in, to prove ownership, even when the apps are free, is ridiculous! No other app store requires this.

Disclaimer: I am a web and mobile app developer, hacking a tablet is fairly low risk for me. I am not encouraging anyone else to do the same.
View full review on Amazon