Last week I wrote about my Kindle Fire 5th Gen and getting custom launchers, root, and the Google Play Store (you know, all the goodness that is SUPPOSED to come with an Android tablet but was mysteriously missing from the Amazon Kindle because reasons). I had also mentioned that I was kind of disappointed with the custom ROM support (I have had 3 Android phones in the last 6 years: HTC Evo 4G (the original Evo!), HTC One M7, and a OnePlus One); all of these phones pretty well supported custom ROMs with unlockable bootloaders. I was expecting the same from the Amazon Kindle. Boy, was I wrong.
Thankfully, RootJunky to the rescue again; they have successfully demonstrated (and I have successfully replicated) getting an AOSP ROM installed and working on my Kindle Fire 7″ 5th Gen that had been running FireOS 5.1.1 (this is a big deal because prior to 5.1.1 the bootloader was unlockable).
My thoughts about it: This is worth every moment to do. There are a few caveats:
- Some Apps won’t install through the Play Store properly (mostly Google apps that are expected to be a part of the stock OS experience like Play Games and Calendar).
- Importantly: You can sideload these apps by going to an APK download site, copying them to your SD Card, and then using something like ES File Explorer to install them after the fact. I had to do this with both Play Games and Calendar).
- The Camera API is a bit wonky.
- Several of the camera apps I used would not cooperate. I did find that my copies of Camera FV-5 and Cinema FV-5 worked perfectly fine but are paid for Apps. You’ll have to experiment to find a working one.
- The battery life is a billion times better on the AOSP rom versus the stock FireOS. With my Kindle at full charge on FireOS I would get a day or two of standby time but with AOSP I am sitting at 60% after 3 days of not being charged nor used). I can’t account for the difference other than to say AOSP is better.
- I don’t like the AOSP keyboard, but thankfully unlike FireOS you can install whatever keyboard (or launcher) you want. A+.
- The tablet is much more responsive, even under load, in AOSP. Taps and swipes respond better.
- Install AdAway (this is just a good piece of advice in general).
So, here’s the video I followed from RootJunky: Link
And NOW here’s the instructions typed out for those who don’t want to have to follow along to a video.
Important Note: These instructions assume you’ve read my other post here and used the tools to root your Kindle Fire. You should also use the same toolkit to install (or manually do it) FlashFire.
Important Note 2: As always with these guides, I assume no responsibility for your devices. This process worked on my tablet and I assume it will work properly on yours. It is next to impossible to brick the device due to the locked bootloader but you could wipe the OS off meaning you’ll have to recover it manually. There are plenty of guides to do that so I won’t be covering it here (as a note: I did wipe my OS once trying a different ROM and I’ll bold the step so you don’t goof like I did).
- Go to the XDA Developers thread here and scroll down to Downloads — grab the latest build available. Only one is listed as of 3/13, and it’s the same one I grabbed last week to do my test with. That’s the only download we’ll need to get started; The ROM developer included nano Google Apps to save us some time. Sweet!
- Get that file onto your Kindle Fire (either download it directly to it or copy it to the SD Card manually after downloading it on your desktop).
- Open FlashFire on your tablet.
- Tap the big red + and Choose Wipe from the list.
- Ensure Data, 3rd Party Apps, and Dalvik are the only options checked.
- Click the big red + and choose “Flash Zip/OTA”
- Navigate to your saved AOSP zip file and choose it.
- Ensure Auto-Mount and Mount /system as read/write are both NOT checked.
- In the list of actions from the main FlashFire screen MAKE SURE WIPE IS AT THE TOP OF THE ORDER.
- Tap and hold to be able to drag it to the top.
- This is super important. Otherwise it’ll flash the ROM (and fail because system/dalvik are there) and then wipe the existing ROM (and you’ll have no FireOS and a recovery process to start).
- Press the Flash button.
- Ignore any warnings. I think there were 2. It is safe to ignore both. It will be OK, I promise.
No seriously. We’re done. It’ll boot to AOSP and then you get to have fun!