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Friday, June 14, 2024

How to Install the Google Play Store on an Amazon Fire Tablet

For the money, most Android tablets aren't very smart buys. At the high end, hardware is marred by less than stellar software offerings. (If you're going to spend $500 on a tablet, get an iPad.) At the low end, Amazon's Android-powered Fire tablets are hamstrung by the very limited Amazon Appstore, which doesn't include Google apps, among others. 

Android tablets are finally getting a boost, but what if you could buy a Fire Tablet for $60 (as you generally can during Amazon Prime Day) and install the Google Play Store? A $60 tablet that's capable of 95 percent of what a $330 iPad can do is a pretty good deal. In this how-to, we'll show you how to get Google Play running on your Amazon Fire Tablet. 

Updated February 2023: We've noted that these instructions do not work with the 2022 models of the Fire HD 7 and HD 8 tablets until you have the latest version of Fire OS installed. We've also added a section on more advanced Fire tablet hacks. 

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How to Install the Google Play Store

The good news is that installing the Play Store on a Fire Tablet doesn't require any hacking or “rooting,” or doing anything from your PC. The easiest method is to just download the needed files and install them. That said, read through this entire guide and make sure you understand each step before you get going.

Before You Start

There are a few limitations you should know about.

Some apps can't be installed: Yes, you'll have the Play Store installed, but that doesn't mean every app will be available or work properly. For example, anything that relies on GPS data is out of luck, and some apps are excluded because Fire tablets are not SafetyNet-certified by Google.Some Play Store apps don't work with Amazon Kids+: I have not installed the Google Play Store on a Fire Tablet Kids Edition yet, but reports from around the web suggest that some apps might not work with Amazon's Kids+ subscription service.Google Family Link doesn't work: Despite the presence of the Google Play Store, you will not be able to manage your Fire tablet through Google Family Link, which enables some parental controls. This, combined with the above issue, leads me to suggest you don't install the Google Play Store on a device intended for your child.

There are two things you need to do before diving in.

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Remove the SD card: The process of installing the Google Play Store can wipe your SD card, so pull it out if you have one. You can put it back in when you're done.Make sure you have a 7th-generation or newer Fire Tablet. You can find out which model you have by going to Settings > Device Options > About Fire Tablet. It should say something like Fire HD 8 (10th Generation).

These instructions are intended to be used on the Fire HD 7, Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 tablets, 7th generation or newer. Finally, realize that you are stepping off the official path here. That doesn't mean you're going to break anything or fall victim to some scam, but if anything does go wrong, it's going to be up to you to solve it. Feel free to post a comment below if you're having trouble.

This will not work on Amazon's 2022 Fire HD 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets unless you have Fire OS 8.3.1.3 installed. My Amazon review units came with Fire OS 8.3.1.2 installed, and while everything below works, I have not been able to actually install apps from the Google Play Store. Users on Reddit have had the same experience, but a few have found that once you get the update to Fire OS 8.3.1.3, the Google Play Store starts working. Unfortunately Amazon pushes out these updates somewhat randomly, and I do not yet have a device running Fire 8.3.1.3 to test with.

1. Enable Apps From Outside Sources

To get Google Play up and running, you need to install four APK (Android Package) files. APK refers to the file extension, which is .apk. All Android apps are packaged as .apk files. The various app stores hide this part from you. But when you click Install in an app store, what's actually happening is that you're downloading an .apk file. You can use Amazon's Silk web browser to download these files, but by default, Silk can't install .apk files.

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To change that, head to the Settings app, select Security & Privacy > Apps From Unknown Sources > Silk Browser. Then toggle the “allow” option. Once that's done, you're ready to download files.

2. Download the Apps

We need to download four applications to get the Google Play Store working: Google Account Manager, Google Services Framework, Google Play Service, and Google Play Store. The first three are frameworks that the last one—the Play Store app—needs to function, so they need to be installed first.

Here's where it gets a little complicated. Different Fire tablets run different versions of Android, so the files you need to install vary according to which Fire tablet you have. You can find out which tablet you have at: Settings > Device Options > About Fire Tablet

You will be downloading all of these files from APKMirror.com. APKMirror is owned by Illogical Robot LLC, which also owns the Android-focused news site Android Police. Once these apps are installed, they will be updated and managed by the Google Play Store, downloading directly from Google's services. All of which is to say, this process is relatively safe.

Here are the apps you need with links to download them. Just download them for now, don't open them.

Google Account Manager8th-generation and newer Fire tablets: Google Account Manager v7.1.27th-generation and older: Google Account Manager 5.1Google Services Framework

This one is a little more complex, since it depends on which version of Fire OS you're running. You can find out by checking on your Fire: Settings > Device Options > System Updates.

Devices running Fire OS 7 need to download the Google Services Framework v9-4832352. This includes all 9th- and 10th-generation Fire HD 10 tablets, all 9th- and 10th-generation Fire HD 8 tablets, as well as some 8th-generation Fire HD 8 tablets. This is why it's important to check and see which version of Fire OS you're running.Devices running Fire OS 6 need to download the Google Services Framework v7.1.2. The compatible devices here are mostly the early versions of the 8th-generation Fire HD 8.Google Play ServicesFire HD 10 9th- and 11th-generation and Fire HD 8 10th-generation: Download the file labeled Google Play Services (64-bit ARM, nodpi, Android 9.0+). Note: Look for the first file not labeled beta. You'll need to click on the Variants text below the file and search for the version we mentioned above.Fire HD 8 8th-generation: Download the file labeled Google Play Services (64-bit ARM, nodpi, Android 6.0+). Note: Don't download the beta versions listed on this page. Look for the first file not labeled beta. You'll need to click on the Variants text below the file and search for the version we mentioned above.Google Play StoreAll Fire Tablets: Google Play Store (universal, nodpi)

Whew, OK, you have all the files we need. Verify that they were all successfully downloaded by opening the Docs app and selecting Downloads. You should see all four files there. (It's easier to see the full names if you switch to list view.)

3. Install the Apps

Now you need to install the apps. This must be done in the correct order. When you are done, do not press open. We need to reboot before you use the Play Store. The order of installation by downloaded file name is:

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Once you've installed all four apps, it's time to restart your Fire tablet. Press down on the power button until the Power menu comes up, then tap Restart.

4. Log In to Your Google Account

Once your Fire tablet has restarted, you should be able to open the Google Play Store, sign in to your Google Account, and start downloading apps. Again, not everything works, but there's certainly a larger selection than what you get in Amazon's Appstore.

Tips and Troubleshooting

If you want a more stock Android experience, you can install a custom launcher, which will let you hide all the Amazon apps you don't need. I like Nova Launcher, but there are many others available.

Assuming you are done installing the APKs from unknown sources, it's a good idea to go back and turn that option off. It's in Settings > Security & Privacy. Toggle off the Apps From Unknown Sources option. It'll prevent you from accidentally downloading malicious software.

If you run into problems installing apps from the Play Store, try clearing the app data. Head to Settings > Apps & Notifications > Manage All Applications. Look through that list and find the Play Store. Tap to edit the settings. The first step is to tap Force Stop to shut down the Play Store. Next, tap Storage, then Clear Data (or Clear Storage, depending on which version of Fire OS you're running). Once that's done, restart your device and try logging in to the Play Store again.

If that doesn't work, you may want to punt: factory-reset and start over. However, be aware that a factory reset will erase all your data and files, not just the Google Play store, so make sure you have a good backup before you try that.

Advanced Options

If you're comfortable using the command line you can go a step further and remove the Amazon software you don't want. To do that you need to install a piece of software called the Android Debug Bridge. This is Google's developer tool for interacting with an Android tablet from your PC, hence the name “Bridge.” You can grab the latest version of the Debug Bridge from Google. Once it's installed you can run Android commands on your Fire tablet, from your PC's terminal. 

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You'll need to enable debugging before you connect to your tablet. To do that head to Settings > Device Options > About Fire Tablet and then tap the serial number seven times. Now go back to Device Options and scroll down until you see a new menu item, Developer Options. Toggle Developer Options on and then scroll down the list of options below until you see USB Debugging and toggle that on as well. 

You can now connect to your tablet with Android Debug Bridge, or adb. To do that open a terminal window and type adb devices. You should see a Fire device listed with the word “unauthorized” next to it. That's OK, just check your Fire tablet and you should see a notification asking if you want to allow the USB debugging. Tap Yes and go back to your PC and type adb devices again. Now instead of “unauthorized” after your device, it should say just “device.” You can now run commands from your PC.

Exactly which commands you want to run depends on what you want to turn off. The complete instructions for doing that are beyond the scope of this guide, but XDA developers, an Android developer community, has a pretty good list of apps and how to disable them. Amazon periodically renames some packages, so you may have to do a more detailed web search for your exact model to find the right names.

Finally, for those who'd like to try installing LineageOS, the open-source alternative to Android: I do not recommend it. Fire devices do not have unlockable bootloaders, and getting LineageOS installed is not for the faint of heart. Even if you pull it off, things rarely work 100 percent of the time, and you can still screw things up after the installation. I bricked an older Fire HD 8 running LineageOS (I tried to update the bootloader within LineageOS, which proved a mistake). There is also, as far as I'm aware, no version of LineageOS that fully supports Fire hardware. If you want to run LineageOS on a tablet, a Samsung slate is probably your best bet.

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