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Turn a Nexus 7 into a Kindle Fire

With a few customizations, you can bring most (but not all) of the conveniences of Amazon's Kindle Fire and app ecosystem to the Google Nexus 7 tablet.

Donald Bell Senior Editor / How To
Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.
Donald Bell
3 min read

Watch this: Turn your Nexus 7 into a Kindle Fire

I know what you're thinking. Why on earth would you want to turn Google's quad-core, Android 4.1 supertablet into an Amazon Kindle Fire?

Well, you're right. But don't worry, I'm not here to neuter your Nexus 7. I'm here to show you how to get (nearly) all of Amazon's great Android offerings on the Nexus.

In Android 4.1, Google finally shows off the full breadth of its ecosystem of media services, right out of the box. Boot it up, and you'll see Google Books, Google Music, Google Video, and the Google Play app store, gazing right back at you. Unfortunately for me, I never use half of those services. When it comes to books, music, and movies, I'm an Amazon guy. In fact, thanks to a few months with the Kindle Fire, I've also racked up a dozen or so Android app downloads from Amazon.

Hands-on with the Nexus 7 (pictures)

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Fortunately, it's pretty easy to get Amazon's Kindle reader app and Amazon MP3 app using the Google Play app store (formerly known as Android Market). The apps are free and they install quickly.

As far as getting your Amazon-purchased Android apps on the Nexus 7, that's a trick that takes a little work to pull off. First, you'll need to set up your Nexus 7 to allow the installation of apps from "unknown sources" (which basically translates into "apps that didn't come from Google Play"). Dive into your tablet settings, tap on Security, check the box for "Unknown Sources" and then exit out to your home screen.

Next, you'll need Amazon's Appstore app for Android, which you can use to download and install any apps you've already purchased through Amazon. To make things tough, you have to download it directly from Amazon by visiting the Appstore Web page, entering your e-mail, and then checking your e-mail on the Nexus 7 to locate the download link. It's convoluted, I know, but it works.

Once the Amazon Appstore app is up and running and you've logged in with your account, you can find your stash of purchased apps by clicking on the stack of three dots in the lower-right corner (Jelly Bean's version of the contextual menu button) and tapping on the My Apps option. From here, you can download your Android apps one by one.

So what about Amazon videos? Well, you'll have to live without them on the Nexus 7 for now. The ability to stream and rent Amazon video content (including free videos for Amazon Prime members) is a feature that Amazon seems to be reserving for the Kindle Fire. There's no Amazon Video app to download, and if you try to stream video content from the Nexus 7's Chrome browser, you're greeted with an Adobe Flash incompatibility warning. If you try downloading Flash Mobile through the Google Play store, you're told that the app is not supported on devices running Android 4.0 or later.

Now, surely there's a workaround for getting Adobe Flash on the Nexus 7, and I'll bet this blog post will receive a few suggestions in the comments. But even with Flash, viewing Amazon video content through the Chrome browser doesn't match the tailored experience of the Kindle Fire. And besides, the Google Video app and storefront really does an excellent job matching the content, pricing, and capabilities of Amazon's video service.

So there you have it, that's how to inject some Kindle Fire into your Nexus 7. Have fun with it.