Amazon's Kindle Fire slates were hot to trot when they first debuted and they continue to set the tablet world ablaze with the better-than-ever HDX lineup. The upgrades to the new slates were a welcome improvement, but one thing that didn't change is the Amazon Appstore. The highly curated Appstore doesn't offer as great a variety as the Apple App Store or Google Play, but it's not chopped liver either.
Here are some essential Kindle Fire apps that'll work for the HDX, HD, and original models. This isn't meant to be a definitive list of the best or most essential apps, but a collection of great downloads to get you started with your new device, or new titles for your old one.
Kindle Fire owners rejoiced when Candy Crush Saga was finally added to the Amazon Appstore in October and, if you don't already have a sweet tooth for popular puzzle game, where have you been? I give you fair warning that once you're under its spell, it'll significantly increase the amount of time you spend hating chocolate (irrational, I know) and justifying the joy you'll get out of spending only 99 cents for five more lives.
Caption byXiomara Blanco / Photo by Screenshot by Jennifer Van Grove/CNET
Amazon's simplified UI makes it difficult to find files on your Kindle Fire tablet, but ES File Explorer alleviates that easily. It completely maps your entire file system, allowing you to access any and every file on your device.
The Kindle Fire HDX lineup dons spiffy new front-facing cameras that deliver clear and moderately colorful video, making Skype calls more tolerable for friends and loved ones everywhere. If you don't have a Kindle Fire with a camera, you can still use the app for chatting.
Evernote is a must-have for mobile note-taking. Its simple interface and multiple-device syncing make it easy to have your shopping list, tweet drafts, future song lyrics, and other useful musings always at your fingertips.
If you have a Prime account, you have access to Amazon's wide library of streaming video. That said, if you haven't joined Prime or can't keep your eyes off of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9's top-of-the-line screen, Netflix is the next best choice for your video-streaming entertainment needs.
In a classic tale of colonization, Bully Beasts have driven out the happy monsters who once inhabited the world of Clay Jam and now it is your duty to rebuild the hills of Clay Jam, bring the monsters back, and kick out the Bully Beasts -- literally.
The addictive monster action game's whimsical appeal evokes a "Pee-wee's Playhouse" aesthetic and its colorful Claymation graphics have crisp details that'll have you willingly wiping the smudges off your screen in between gameplay.
Battery HD takes the guessing out of "How many episodes of 'Scandal' can I watch before my battery dies?" and similar important life questions. It gives you estimates of how long your battery life will last for specific activities, like 2D games or online radio, as well current consumption and standby times.
If you own one of the new HDX models, Weather Live is the visually stunning weather app worthy of your HD screen. It provides the basic necessary weather forecasts on top of a crisp visual simulation that rivals a real-life window view.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is the only Amazon tablet with an LED flash, but no matter which Kindle Fire model you own, you can still use Flashlight HD LED to help light your way. You can illuminate the screen -- in a variety of colors -- or activate the rear LED flash if you have it.
Tablet aren't the best device for blasting your favorite tunes, but some Kindle Fire models house decent speakers -- for a slate. The Equalizer FX app helps optimize audio with different genre presets for a more enjoyable listening experience. It doesn't make a huge difference but those who like a little more low-end oomph will appreciate the additional bass.
Whether you're casually looking to pick up some Portuguese or are brushing up on your español, Duolingo is a simple -- yet appropriately challenging -- way to learn. The gamification of reading, writing, and comprehending a new language is enjoyable and supplements the dead brain cells caused by the time spent reaching an embarrassingly high level on Candy Crush Saga.
If you own a Roku, the Roku app is a no-brainer. It replaces the functionality of the remote and uses the same Wi-Fi connection your device is connected to. I personally prefer the app to the onscreen menu, since it's easier to quickly browse through your channels and the store, but I also like it a lot because my Roku remote is a little wonky and requires Wii-like flair for it to work. Don't nobody got time for that.
If you're an HBO subscriber, HBO Go will give you access to a vast library of hit movies, documentaries, and original television series, like my favorite show "The Wire." If you haven't seen it, you should. If you have, I'll see you in the comments section. But honestly, HBO Go helps you take full advantage of your subscription and gives you mobile access to the best premium entertainment the channel has to offer.
If you're not the type of person to sync your files often, the Splashtop Remote app offers free and easy remote access to your laptop or desktop from your Kindle Fire tablet. After setting it up -- which is relatively quick and simple -- you can view your computer's desktop and access your files as long as the computer is on and connected to Wi-Fi.
It's easy to open apps and mindlessly forget they're running in the background -- until things begin to slow down or lag. Clean Master is a useful app that offers extra help in ensuring that this doesn't happen, even when you're not thinking about it. Not only can you remove junk files, free up RAM, and delete apps en masse, but it automatically offers reminders for some of these functions when and if they need to be done.