As has been noted a few times in the past, Amazon didn’t really put any effort into securing their tablet against modification. The Kindle Fire was bound to be rooted and they knew that would be the case well before it was even officially announced, I’m sure. Since it started arriving in the mail, there have been quick results along these lines. Andrei, here on our site, has posted instructions on how to root your own Kindle Fire for easy access to things like the Android Marketplace. What many have been waiting for, though, is the announcement that custom ROMs were available to replace the default Kindle Fire OS.
This isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with what Amazon has done in their release. It’s a great one and serves to highlight the capabilities of the tablet quite well. For those who prefer to avoid being attached permanently to a company like Amazon for whatever reason, however, it is nice to have the option to make use of their affordable yet powerful hardware without the attached software. That’s where developments from the XDA-Developers forum come in.
One of their users has been able to get a basic installation of Google’s latest Android release, Ice Cream Sandwich, working on the Kindle Fire. So far, “working” is a relative term since at the time of this writing it still lacked the ability to use the audio, WiFi, accelerometer, or light sensor (yes, the Kindle Fire has a light sensor, they have just got it disabled at the moment since it was overly sensitive at the time of launch). This is a big step in the right direction, however, and once some of the bugs and deficiencies are ironed out will likely result in making the Kindle Fire a great option for Android fans who might otherwise be put off by Amazon’s proprietary build.
While this will definitely open up the user options in a few ways, specifically by allowing a greater degree of configurability and better integrating the Android Marketplace (as compared to simply rooting and installing it), there are a couple down sides. Most importantly, you lose access to the Amazon service integration. While most people considering this option are likely looking for exactly that, the Kindle Fire’s limited storage space can make the Cloud Storage a vital part of daily use and the streaming options for music and movies provide an experience that many find superior to their general app equivalencies. The freedom to install anything you want will also lead to the opportunity to pick up apps that are not optimized for the Kindle Fire’s specs in any way. This can lead to poor performance at best and complete waste of a purchase if you aren’t careful.
While I wouldn’t advise anybody to jump up and grab the current working build of ICS for the Kindle Fire, given its incompleteness, you may want to keep an eye on it. Personally I love the interface that Amazon has come up with, but that doesn’t mean somebody else won’t manage to improve on it. The best performing option will always be the preferable one in the end, and there is a great community of Android developers out there that can’t wait to get the Kindle Fire working just the way they like it.
The video demonstrating a working ICS build from the dev who got it working: