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Kindle Fire: How to Install Ice Cream Sandwich

Do you have a Kindle Fire? Would you rather convert it into a full-on Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich powered tablet? Amazon has gone off on its own tangent with its version of Android. At this point it doesn’t look like there will ever be official support for Ice Cream Sandwich. But, that won’t stop the developer community from adapting Android without Amazon’s consent.

Thanks to the hard work of the geeks at XDA, you have plenty of choices for bringing ICS to the Kindle Fire with custom roms.

Ice Cream Sandwich on the Kindle Fire

If you’re curious what Ice Cream Sandwich looks like on the Kindle Fire, check out these screenshots below. Otherwise, skip to the tutorial.

The Screenshots

ICS Kindle Fire lock screen

ICE Kindle Fire home screen

ICE Kindle Fire angry birds space

ICS Kindle fire about page

The Guide

Although development has come a long way since release, there’s still a few bugs and downsides when updating the Kindle Fire with a custom Ice Cream Sandwich rom. Here’s a list of some features you won’t be able to get at this point. Keep these in mind before installing ICS if you want them.

  • No ICS support for the Amazon Prime Lending Library or Amazon Video.
  • Amazon’s custom interface is completely gone. I didn’t like it anyway…
  • Kindle Fire specific apps will not be downloadable from the Amazon App Store.
  • Mounting the SD card to your computer via USB doesn’t always work.

On the other hand, it means you get ICS on your Kindle! And, many of the ICS specific apps will now work on your Kindle. Overall it’s a trade off between Amazon specific features and modern Android features. Keep in mind there are some developers currently working on porting the Lending Library to ICS.

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If you can live without Amazon’s Kindle exclusives, then ICS is the way to go. Here’s what you need to update it.

To get started, make sure you have the rom file saved to your Kindle. The rom should be kept in its zipped archive format — don’t extract it.

Note: It’s always a good idea to create a backup of your current data stored locally before flashing a new rom. If something goes wrong, you can reset it to its factory defaults. Then, you can restore previous purchases from Amazon servers and add locally stored media like your video files or photos. Back it up now before proceeding any further.

Reboot the Kindle and press the power button to launch recovery. From the main TWRP window tap the Wipe button.

wipe menu

From the Wipe menu tap the Factory Reset button. A confirmation page will appear, simply swipe the arrow across the bottom to confirm.

factory reset

Back on the wipe screen, clear the Dalvik Cache.

clear dalvik cache

Everything will be wiped, so now you have a clean slate to flash the new rom onto.

Tap the Home button to return to the TWRP main menu and then tap Install.

twrp rom install flash

Tap the ROM Archive (.zip) that you wish to install.

tap kindle fire rom

Swipe to confirm the install. Once done, just reboot the Kindle.

kindle fire confirm rom flashreboot system

From here on things will be completely different. First off, the splash screen will now say Cyanogen Mod. Loading of the operating system will take longer than usual, but this only happens the first time. You’ll see a Setup option or a Welcome screen. Just follow along and enter your preferences to start using your new Android 4.0 tablet, installation is done.

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cyanogen mod flash screenics welcome screen

You’ll notice the old Amazon interface will be completely vanquished. Now your Kindle Fire will be running what’s called Trebuchet and Apex launchers. If prompted to pick a default launcher, choose Apex.

Now it’s fun time. Explore the settings menu and figure out how you prefer to set things up. Next it’s on to the app downloading scavenger hut. Here’s a few I recommend grabbing and why it’s a good reason to.

  • Amazon App Market – This app isn’t available in the Play Store, but you can grab it from this link. A free app a day is a nice perk of having this installed.
  • Amazon Kindle App – Allows you to read all of your books and magazines. The only exceptions are Kindle Fire specific magazine apps and the Lending Library books.
  • Droid Wall – Let’s you block specific apps and ads from accessing the internet.
  • Pandora – When you want to sit back and listen to personalized radio, Pandora wins.
  • YouTube – It works a lot better running ICS.
  • BE Weather – Currently my favorite weather app, it has a fantastic widget as well.

That’s all for my recommended apps. Have fun with your upgraded Kindle Fire!

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4 Responses to Kindle Fire: How to Install Ice Cream Sandwich

  1. Jon Langevin June 5, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    Thanks for the directions, quite helpful. Despite not being a stranger to rooting and flashing my android devices, it’s been over 6 months since my last foray. It seems that it’s very very easy to find the tools and roms to alter your devices, but *nobody* ever posts even basic directions for their tools.

    Rom authors will post “Prep using X software, then flash using Y software”. You find software “X” and “Y”, and they only post their changelists, requirements, etc, but don’t even include a readme…

    Quite a hassle.

    Anyways, thanks for this post, quite helpful.

    Just a note, you mention that FireFireFire was needed, but I didn’t find it necessary. I installed TWRP and was good to go from there.

    • Austin Krause June 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback. FFF isn’t necessary, but I do recommend it.

  2. Hielke June 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    It worked, finally, but t ook me a lot of trouble. The pc doesn’t recognize the Kindle after the ‘install.bat’ step. I needed toe install Android SBK, and Java, and manually install the drivers etc. Luckily, Google was my friend.
    Achter all that, this guide was wonderful and I had Android installed within 10 minutes…

  3. Ariel August 19, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    How do you install FFF and TWRP without rooting your kindle?
    I’m new to allt his, please reply!

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