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How to install Google apps on Kindle Fire HD or HDX

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February 10, 2014

Here's how to install Google apps on Kindle Fire HD with no rooting required

Here's how to install Google apps on Kindle Fire HD with no rooting required

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One of the main reasons to root your Kindle Fire is so you can install the Google Play Store and have access to apps that can't be found in the Amazon Appstore. But if you're worried about voiding the warranty or dealing with the rooting process in general, you can sideload apps. The cool thing about this technique is it doesn't require you to root the device first. Here's how to get most of the Google apps on your Kindle Fire HD or HDX.

For this article I'm using the latest 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX, which runs Amazon's customized version of Android 4.2. This should work the same on the 8.9-inch version too. Keep in mind that when sideloading these apps, not all of the features will work correctly. For instance, on the Google Search app, the Google Now cards don't load like they would on a Nexus 7 or other Android device. All of the APK (the Android application format) files offered here are free, malware free, and free to distribute.

What is sideloading and how do I do it?

Sideloading is the term used to describe installing an app on your Android device from a source other than an official app store. Basically, what you're doing is transferring an APK file from your computer to your tablet or smartphone and installing it directly. Since the Kindle Fire runs a forked version of Android, this is a common practice to get the apps you like on the device.

Before you can sideload an app on the Kindle Fire HD or HDX, you need to enable the feature that allows you to install apps from unknown sources. To do that, go to Settings > Applications and make sure "Apps from Unknown Sources" is turned on.

Enable installation of apps from unknown sources

Next, download this zip file and extract its contents to a convenient location on your computer. The zip file includes the four essential apps you need to install first.

These are the four Google APK files you'll need to install first

Connect your Kindle Fire to your computer using the included micro-USB cable and transfer the four APKs you just downloaded to your Kindle's Download folder.

Transfer Google APK files to the Download folder on Kindle Fire HDX

Make sure you have ES File Explorer on your Kindle Fire. It's free and available in Amazon's Appstore. This will give you access to the APKs you transfer to your tablet. You'll find the files in Local > Home > Download.

ES File Explorer allows you to access the Kindle Fire Download folder

Now perform the following steps in order:

  1. Tap to install Google Account Manager and reboot the tablet.
  2. Tap to install Google Services Framework and reboot the tablet.
  3. Tap to install Google Play Services and reboot the tablet.
  4. Tap to install Gmail and reboot the tablet.
Install the required Google apps on the Kindle Fire

Installing Google apps

After those four apps are installed, open the Gmail app (you'll find it listed under the Apps section on the Kindle Fire) and sign in with your Google account. After signing in at the screen shown below, you'll be kicked to the web version of Google to sign in again.

Sign in with your Google account credentials

When you're signing in, you'll see various messages about different Google services stopping. You can just tap through them. This is one of the caveats with sideloading Google apps and running them – the apps will still work, it's just kind of annoying having the occasional alert pop up like the one in the screenshot below.

Google processes will stop, just tap OK to continue on

Once you're signed in, you'll be able to run the Gmail app on your Kindle Fire. Here's an example of it running on my Kindle Fire HDX.

Gmail app running on Kindle Fire HDX

Now you can continue to sideload the Google apps you want to use following the same process as above. Transfer them to the Download folder on the Kindle Fire, just like you did with the first set of apps.

Copy Google apps to the Download folder on the Kindle Fire HD or HDX

Open ES File Explorer, open the Download folder, and tap to install the Google apps you want. For best results, I recommend installing one app at a time and rebooting after each one.

Use ES File Explorer to Install Google apps

Just click on the following apps to download the APK file and sideload it on the Kindle Fire. In my tests, each of the following work with little to no bugs: Chrome, YouTube, Google Search, Google Music, Google Play Movies, Gmail, and Newsstand.

Running the official Google Music app on Kindle Fire HD and HDX

Summing up

You can find other Google app files in Android forums or an APK repository site like Android Drawer. A word of caution about sideloading apps: Ensure you're getting them from a trusted and secure source. Some apps – especially the ones that claim to give you paid apps for free – in the shady markets contain malware that will wreck you device. We don't condone sideloading paid apps, and in the end it will just get you into trouble. But as long as you're careful and download the apps from a trusted source you should be ok.

While some of the app features don't work the same as on a typical Android device, and the error messages that pop up are a bit annoying, it isn't a deal-breaker. As long as you're able to overlook those caveats and live in the Google ecosystem, sideloading the apps is something you should definitely try.

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About the Author
Brian Burgess Brian Burgess resides in Minnesota. A technology enthusiast his entire life, he worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. In addition to contributing to Gizmag, he’s the Editor in Chief at groovyPost.com and has written for other notable tech sites Byte, InformationWeek, and How-To Geek. Away from the keyboard, you're likely to find him listening to heavy metal, playing guitar, or watching Star Trek.   All articles by Brian Burgess
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17 Comments

Hello,

Thank you for writing this article. I have downloaded each of the 4 Google files you mentioned to our Kindle Fire HDX and opened Gmail just as you described. When I get to the following step I have problems:

"Now you can continue to sideload the Google apps you want to use following the same process as above."

I have tried to go through my computer to the Google Play store but do not know how to save the apps to my computer. When I click "install" it tells me "You haven't accessed your Google Play store app (white shopping bag) on your device with this email address."

I have also tried to get to the Google Play store through my Kindle's "Google Play services" app but I cannot sign in. I push "Sign in" but nothing happens.

Could you please help me download more apps to my computer?

Thank you in advance,

Julie

Julie Ellenburg Wingate
12th February, 2014 @ 06:01 pm PST

Hi Julie,

Actually, you don't download apps from the Google Play Store. You need to install the APKs from sources other than an official store.

If you look further down in the article, I included links to the more popular Google Apps:

Chrome, YouTube, Google Search, Google Music, Google Play Movies, Gmail, and Newsstand.

Just download them to your computer and copy them over to your Kindle Fire HDX, just like the first four apps.

Brian Burgess
12th February, 2014 @ 07:47 pm PST

Nice! TY v much!

Dmitri Dzhinzhihashvilli
13th February, 2014 @ 07:58 pm PST

Is it safe to delete these 4 Google APKs if I decide I don't I like or want them after I install them?

Will my Kindle Fire HD still work if I delete them? I want to get rid of the constant error messages.

Thanks in advance for your further advice.

N8S
15th February, 2014 @ 09:32 pm PST

… and if it's safe, what do I have to do to delete them?

Thanks.

N8S
16th February, 2014 @ 07:45 pm PST

@N8S: Yes you can delete the Google Apps you no longer want without causing any issues.

However, the first four apps that you install in order first - those are required in order for the other Google apps you sideload to work.

As far as the errors, that's just something you have to live with. When you root a device or sideload apps that aren't in the official Amazon Appstore, you can't expect them to work perfectly. You're hacking the device, and that causes unwanted issues. It's not an exact science.

To uninstall, just find the app you want to remove, Go to the apps section, tap and hold it until the context menu appears, and select Remove from Device"

Brian Burgess
16th February, 2014 @ 10:31 pm PST

Uh, this is old news. I've had google apps on my kindle hd for about a year from guess what... An app. I pushed one button and got gmail, google+, youtube, etc.

gj3200
17th February, 2014 @ 08:58 am PST

Anyone have a link to a safe version of Google Hangouts? My parents are Kindle users and I'd love to let them easily see their grandson without having to fire up their slow-as-dirt circa-2008 netbooks.

Bob Buchko
26th February, 2014 @ 07:29 am PST

After installing Google Account Manager and rebooting. I tried installing Google Service Framework and got an error message: "There is a problem parsing the package. "

I tried rebooting and reinstalling/ re-downloading the APKs.

Any suggestions?

Thank you.

Tommy Lee
2nd March, 2014 @ 10:44 am PST

youtube doesnt even need any of this stuff, you just can grab Youtube APK, sideload and install it!

Rodo Gioberti
4th March, 2014 @ 04:59 am PST

Downloading apps from google play store is easy than amazon store... I want you to please tell me how to download these free applications from the amazon store and the kindle browser onto the device... Such apps are opera mini,etc.. And also how to download games...because I can see free written on the game, yet I CANNOT DOWNLOAD... please help me..

bm
4th March, 2014 @ 04:27 pm PST

Thank you!

Jimmy Sylakowski
8th March, 2014 @ 05:57 am PST

I am not having much luck using this method on my Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. It is almost new and maybe Amazon has set up a block. I followed the instructions. Set the Kindle to allow installation from other sources, downloaded the zip files to my Samsung Ultrabook, attached the Kindle and waited for the software to install for it. Next I downloaded and unzipped the APK file as instructed. In file explorer I have the files on my laptop and the download folder on the Kindle. The files won't copy to the Kindle. I have tried the right click, the Edit drop down, and cntrl-C and cntrl-V. Nothing works. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks very much.

Lynne
9th March, 2014 @ 12:11 pm PDT

Disastrous. I installed the four apps, rebooting as instructed. Each reboot resulted in more and more of the warned-about pop ups about services stopping. When I opened gmail to log in it just continually crashed. I had already got gmail working perfectly on my Kindle which I uninstalled in order to try this method (hoping to get a working Google Play app). A much better method that I already use is to install apps on my android phone and use an apk extractor.

Jo Andrews
16th March, 2014 @ 08:42 am PDT

Thanks for this tutorial. I was going along just fine with it until I get to the step that says, "Now you can continue to sideload the Google apps you want to use following the same process as above."

How do I get the APKs for other apps that I want to install? You only have the links posted for a few apps and none of those are the ones I want.

I don't have an Android phone. My kids have Nabi 2 tablets with Google Play installed and I tried to go into their tablets and find APKs but was unsuccessful.

Specifically I want to install the Hitbliss (Beta) app onto my Kindle Fire HD.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.projectconcord.player.android.HitBliss

Please advise. THANK YOU!

rainbowjewels
23rd March, 2014 @ 01:32 pm PDT

Everything worked just great! BUT I can't seem to find ANY of the apk's inside de Kindle :/ I mean, they're supposed to be installed, but I cant find them anywhere

Deisy Fogtman
17th April, 2014 @ 08:57 pm PDT

I am having the exact same problem that Lynne is having, it will not let me copy the files onto the kindle...grrrr!! I have the kindle 8.9 also. Thanks!!

Megan

Megan Slusher
18th April, 2014 @ 02:29 pm PDT
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