Both our kids have Kindle Fire tablets of some kind. In general, I like them a lot. They’re cheaper than iPads and Free Time is a really nice service. The only problem is the damned Amazon App Store.
Ok, there’s nothing wrong with Amazon’s store in particular. The real problem is that when you have a Kindle Fire, it’s the only game in town. Most of the time, you can get the same stuff as you can on the main Android store. Most of that time.
When you have kids and the new super awesome ZOMG I GOTTA HAVE IT app is available on the Android Play Store but not Amazon, that’s… complicated.
There are, of course, some ways to get around this little limitation. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
- “root” the device and install a vanilla version of Android
- Install the Google support applications including the Play Store
- Hunt down the .apk files for the apps and install them
Rooting the device gives you the most Android-like experience. It’s also a complete pain in the ass. And if you’re inept enough, you’ll brick your tablet rendering it useless.
You can also get a copy of the Google native apps and support services which will allow you to run the Google Play Store directly. This has always been buggy causing random error messages and every once in a while Google updates the store and it breaks it completely until you figure out a fix.
The easiest way is to just sideload the .apk files for the apps. It’s a pretty easy process of installing a file manager, copying the file from your computer where you downloaded it and then running the installer.
Of course, finding the .apk file tends to be problematic. Not that it’s hard to find, but you’re installing something you kind of randomly downloaded from the Internet. Scary.
I opted for option 3, but while I was searching for the most up-to-date version of the Google applications, I ran across a site called apkpure.com They have a pretty comprehensive collection, and you can check the APK against the version in the official store to make sure it’s legit.
Of course I am going with the “seems trustworthy” method, but it’s the least pain in the ass way to go about adding Android games. And more importantly, I now have a happy kid playing his game dujour.