The Amazon Fire tablets are an excellent value for money; however, there are some significant disadvantages. The Fire tablets all run FireOS, which is a fork of Android. Unfortunately, there are some pretty big compromises users will make when opting for a Fire Tablet. Follow along in this guide to learn how to turn your Amazon Fire tablet into a stock Android device – with some exceptions.
- Fire Tablet Disadvantages
- What Will Happen to Your Amazon Fire Tablet If You Do This?
- What You'll Need to Convert Your Fire Tablet into an Android Device
- 1. Prep Your Fire Tablet
- 2. Install Fire Toolbox
- 3. Plug Your Fire Tablet into Your PC
- How to Use Fire Toolbox
- Install Google Play and Google Services
- Manage Preinstalled Amazon Apps
- Install a Custom Launcher
- Disable Lockscreen Ads
- Frequently Asked Questions
Fire Tablet Disadvantages
At first glance, the operating system running Amazon Fire devices appears as though it is Android. While that is technically true, at least in the sense that Fire devices run a lot of Android code, FireOS isn’t really the Android you know, as Fire devices do not support the Google Play Store or any Google Services. Think of it this way: the foundation of FireOS is Android, but the rest of the house is something entirely different. Unfortunately, this means that there are some caveats.
No Google Play
For the majority of users, the biggest difference is the missing Google Play Store. To install apps on an Amazon Fire device, users have to use Amazon’s own app store. The biggest problem most users will run into is the limited apps available on the Amazon App Store as compared to on Google Play. This limits the functionality of your device.
Can’t Change the Default Launcher
Furthermore, Amazon doesn’t allow Fire device users to swap the launcher. One of the best features of the Android OS is the ability to customize it. For most users, customization starts with the launcher: the home screen where users can launch apps, open the app drawer, etc. There are a ton of launchers available, and they all tweak the end user experience.
Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow Fire device users to change the default launcher. This means that FireOS users are with a bland looking grid layout, reminiscent of iPadOS. To make matters even worse, Amazon-centric apps are front and center, urging you to continue spending money at the online retail giant.
Lock Screen Ads
One of the biggest draws of the Amazon Fire tablets is the price point. Before the Amazon Fire tablets, purchasing an Android tablet for around $50 meant you’d be rolling the dice with a questionable no-name device. To Amazon’s credit, it recognized the lack of quality products at a low price point and filled that space with the Fire devices. They have done this with devices that perform well, have a good build quality and a legitimate warranty.
The reason Amazon is willing to do this is twofold. First, the low cost Fire devices act as a portal to the Amazon ecosystem. Secondly, Amazon Fire tablets are little ad generators that point you to other Amazon products. When buying an Amazon Fire tablet there are two versions of the same model. The lower cost option (typically around $10-15 cheaper) comes with lock screen ads. These are ads that run automatically on the screen of your Fire tablet when it is not in use. Alternatively, you can opt out of seeing ads on the more expensive model.
What Will Happen to Your Amazon Fire Tablet If You Do This?
Essentially, what we do in the process outlined below is bypass some of the restrictions put in place by Amazon on your Fire tablet. By using a free software tool, we are installing the Google Play Store on the tablet. This allows you to install any Android app found on the Google Play Store on your Fire tablet, regardless of whether or not that app is available on the Amazon App Store. Furthermore, you’ll able to install any custom launcher to your Fire tablet. You’ll have greater control over the look and functionality of your device, including getting rid of Amazon bloatware. In addition, lock screen ads can be disabled, if necessary. Let’s take a look at how to make this happen.
What You’ll Need to Convert Your Fire Tablet into an Android Device
Before starting, there are a few things you’ll need. First, you’ll need an Amazon Fire tablet. Any Fire tablet from 2014 to the present is compatible with the method detailed below. Additionally, you’ll need a PC running Windows (there is no support for Linux and macOS at the moment, but running Windows inside a virtual machine should work).
Finally, you’ll need a software tool called Fire Toolbox. This software utilizes ADB (Android Debug Bridge) to tweak your Amazon Fire tablet by removing the restrictions put in place by Amazon and restoring full control to the end user.
1. Prep Your Fire Tablet
Before you do anything, you’ll need to enable USB debugging on your Fire tablet. This will allow you to tweak your Fire tablet via your PC. To do this, we need to enable developer options on your Fire tablet.
- Open the Settings menu by swiping down from the top of the screen to reveal the quick settings menu.
- In the bottom right, you’ll spot a cog icon. Tap on that to see all of the Settings options on your device.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and select “Device Options.”
- On the next screen, tap on “About Fire Tablet.”
- Tap on “Serial Number” eight times in rapid succession. You should see a countdown of the number of taps needed to unlock the developer options at the bottom of the screen.
- If done correctly, this will reveal the “Developer Options” setting in the previous menu.
- Go back one screen and tap on “Developer Options.”
Note: if “Developer Options” is not listed in the Settings menu, go back to the “Device Options” screen and tap on the Serial Number five or six times again.
- Enable “Developer Options” by tapping on the toggle switch.
- When you see a pop-up asking you if you really want to turn on developer options, tap “OK.”
- Scroll down and flick the toggle switch labelled “USB debugging.” A pop-up will ask if you really want to do this. Tap “OK.”
Now that we’ve enabled USB debugging, we can hop over to the PC for the next steps.
2. Install Fire Toolbox
The first thing you need to do is download and install “Fire Toolbox” on your Windows PC. The tool can be found on XDA Developers alongside copious documentation. We recommend that you read through the instructions and FAQ found on XDA.
- Download the Fire Toolbox installer or zip file to your PC. At the time of this writing, the most recent version of Fire Toolbox is v25.2.
- Once the installer has finished downloading, open the application to launch the Fire Toolbox.
- The program will recognize that it is your first time running Fire Toolbox and will ask you to choose a theme for the tool’s User Interface.
- Once you make a selection, the program will reboot.
- When Fire Toolbox relaunches, it will automatically search for any updates that are available. We recommend applying any updates to the software. Fire Toolbox will relaunch if any updates are applied.
Note: some users have reported receiving an error message when applying updates. If this happens, simply relaunch Fire Toolbox.
3. Plug Your Fire Tablet into Your PC
- When Fire Toolbox relaunches, it will report the following: “No device was detected. Please plug in a Fire Tablet.”
- Plug your Amazon Fire tablet into your PC using the USB cable that came with your device.
- When the Fire tablet is recognized by the PC, you should see a pop-up on your Fire tablet asking if you want to allow USB debugging. Tap on OK. This will allow your PC to make changes to your Fire tablet.
- If you are using your personal computer, feel free to put a check in the box labelled “Always allow from this computer.”
How to Use Fire Toolbox
Now that you’ve plugged your Fire tablet into your PC, you will see the Fire Toolbox interface. It will ask if you have used Fire Toolbox before. If you haven’t, we would recommend clicking “No, I’m a new user”. This will provide a brief walkthrough on how to use the software.
The Fire Toolbox offers a bunch of options to tweak and customize the Fire tablet. We cover the four most popular ones below, but feel free to experiment with the other options as well.
Install Google Play and Google Services
As we mentioned above, Fire tablets do not have the Google Play Store. This forces users to install apps from Amazon’s App Store, which has a paltry selection of apps in comparison. To install the Google Play Store, click on the button labelled “Google Services.” Doing so will provide a description of what will happen to your Fire tablet. If you’re happy with the proposed changes, click “Execute Tool.” Let Fire Toolbox do its thing and be sure to read any and all prompts that appear.
Manage Preinstalled Amazon Apps
Amazon wants you to use its services over competitors, so the Fire tablet range pushes these apps pretty hard. Fortunately, you can disable these apps by following the instructions below and using the Fire Toolbox. Note that instead of the Fire Toolbox deleting the applications completely, it disables them and hides them from view.
- Click “Manage Amazon Apps” in the main menu.
- On the next screen, choose to manually disable certain apps. Doing so will bring you to a list of apps that you can disable. They are color-coded to indicate how safe they are to disable, with green being okay and red being not recommended.
However, if you don’t want to mess around with individual apps, choose an automated debloat of your Fire tablet. On the “Manage Amazon Apps” screen there is a drop-down box labelled “Disable Amazon Apps.”
This presents you with two options: “Complete debloat” and “Standard debloat.” You’ll notice that the “Standard” option is recommended. For that reason, we suggest that you opt for that as well. Click on “Execute” to run the tool and disable the recommended Amazon apps.
Install a Custom Launcher
The default FireOS launcher is pretty plain, and Amazon disables the ability to change it out of the box. Thankfully, we can install a new default launcher using Fire Toolbox.
- From the main menu, click “Custom Launcher.”
- Click the drop-down box to select the launcher you prefer.
- Once you’ve selected the launcher of your choice, you’ll be presented with a few other options. We recommend disabling the Fire launcher. Furthermore, you can enable widgets if you use them.
- When you’re ready, click the “Yes” button. Fire Toolbox will automatically download and install your chosen launcher.
Disable Lockscreen Ads
Finally, we’re going to want to disable those annoying lockscreen ads.
Note: If you opted for a more expensive model that doesn’t have lockscreen ads, you can skip this step.
On the main menu of the Fire Toolbox, click “Lockscreen Management.” On the next page, click “Remove Lockscreen Ads -> Execute Tool.” When it asks if you really want to proceed, click “OK” and let the tool do its thing. Once the tool is finished, you will no longer see lockscreen ads on your Fire tablet.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why doesn’t Amazon offer stock Android Fire tablets?
There are a few ways to answer this question, but basically it boils down to one thing: control. Amazon wants to lock users into an Amazon-centric experience. The online retail giant wants to be the gatekeeper of the device, meaning that you need to go through Amazon to do anything and everything on your Fire device. This puts them at a better position to force you to use Amazon apps for everything.
At the end of the day, Amazon doesn’t want you to use a competitor, in this case Google, on the device. It makes sense from a business perspective, but for the user, this ends up creating a somewhat stifled experience. Fortunately, if you want your Amazon Fire tablet to function more like a standard Android device, there is a way to do so.
2. Can I reverse the changes made to my Fire Tablet?
In short, yes. There is virtually no risk associated with tweaking the way your Amazon Fire tablet looks and behaves. This is due to Fire Toolbox not doing anything to the System partition of your Fire tablet. All changes made can be reversed by simply doing a factory reset on your Amazon Fire tablet.
3. Will this void the warranty on my Fire Tablet?
Amazon and retailers that sell the Amazon Fire Tablet, like Target, certainly don’t want you to do what is outlined above. However, as we mentioned earlier, you aren’t doing anything to your tablet that can’t be undone. This means nothing outlined in this guide will void your warranty.
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