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.
If you’re curious what Ice Cream Sandwich looks like on the Kindle Fire, check out these screenshots below. Otherwise, skip to the tutorial.
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.
If you can live without Amazon’s Kindle exclusives, then ICS is the way to go. Here’s what you need to update it.
- A Kindle Fire
- TWRP and FFF installed on Kindle (ROOT not required)
- A custom ICS rom zip file saved to the Kindle Fire.
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.
From the Wipe menu tap the Factory Reset button. A confirmation page will appear, simply swipe the arrow across the bottom to confirm.
Back on the wipe screen, clear the 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.
Tap the ROM Archive (.zip) that you wish to install.
Swipe to confirm the install. Once done, just reboot the Kindle.
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.
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!