Amazon's Fire tablets don't come with access to any Google services, outside of the products that can be used on the web Search, Maps, YouTube) or through third-party applications (Gmail). Installing the Google Play Store is easy enough, but what about going the rest of the way? How close can you get the Fire tablet to the 'stock' Android experience?
In this guide, we'll go over some steps you can take to make your Amazon Fire tablet feel more like a traditional Android device, with all the usual Google apps and services. Some of these options are officially available in Fire OS, while others require ADB commands or dedicated applications.
Set Chrome as the default web browser
Switching browsers is one of the easiest customizations you can do in Fire OS, as it doesn't require downloading additional apps or using hacky ADB commands. First, download Chrome from the Play Store on your Fire tablet, either by searching "Chrome" on the store or by using the below link.
Before you open Chrome for the first time, you need to grant it all permissions from the Fire OS settings — otherwise, you might not be able to log into your Google account. Open the Settings app on your tablet, tap the 'Apps & Notifications' section, then find Chrome in the list and select it. Now open the 'Permissions' menu and enable all the listed permissions.
Now you can try opening Chrome. It might not detect your account during the setup process, but if it doesn't, just press 'No thanks' on the sync option. Once the browser is running, tap on the menu button at the top-right, select 'Settings,' and press the blue 'Continue' button at the top to log in. All of your account data will start to sync, including history, tabs, and bookmarks.
Chrome usually doesn't detect Google accounts on first startup, but opening the Settings later fixes it
Once that's done, open the Settings app again and navigate to Apps & Notifications > Default apps > Browser app. Finally, select Chrome from the list. This will set all web links to open in Chrome.
You can also change the default browser to any other application later on, and most other browsers don't require enabling permissions ahead of time.
Gboard is the default keyboard on many Android devices, and not only does it work well on Fire tablets, but it has many more features than the built-in Fire OS keyboard. Compared to Amazon's keyboard, Gboard has swipe typing, GIF input, customizable designs, and much more. To start, search for Gboard from the Play Store, or use the link below.
Once it's done downloading, open it. The app will walk you through enabling the keyboard in the Fire OS Settings. Now when you need to type anything, Gboard will appear instead of the Fire OS keyboard!
Enable Google Autofill
Android has a great feature called the Autofill framework, which allows password managers (LastPass, Google, etc.) to fill in login forms inside other applications. Amazon hides the settings page for Autofill on Fire OS, but you can still get to it with a third-party app.
The first step is to download the Google app from the Play Store, which will add Google as an Autofill provider option. Google Autofill uses your login information stored in Chrome.
Now you need to download Autofill Changer, which lets you open the Autofill settings page that Fire OS tries to hide. It's also on the Play Store.
Once both apps are downloaded, open the Autofill Changer app, and select Google from the menu. Now when you log into an app, you should get a popup asking if you want to use the information stored in your Google account.
Autofill doesn't work 100% of the time, but that goes for Autofill on regular Android devices too. You can also use the Autofill Changer app to use any other password manager that supports the Autofill framework — all available options will appear in the list.
Install Google Assistant
Fire tablets already have the Alexa voice assistant, which does most of the same functions as Google Assistant, but installing Google's helper is still possible. You need to download the Google app from the Play Store, if you haven't already. After that, download the Google Assistant app.
First, open the regular Google app if you haven't already — otherwise, you'll get a "Google Assistant isn't available on this device" message. Once you have used the Google app, open the Assistant app. You should get a popup asking to set Google as the default Assist app. Once that's done, Assistant should work by opening the app from the home screen.
If you want to use "Hey Google" or "Ok Google" to activate Assistant, just like on smart speakers and regular Android devices, tap the 'Get started' button at the bottom of the Assistant popup. Follow the on-screen instructions for setting up Voice Match, then Assistant should respond to the "Hey Google" or "Ok Google" voice commands at all times.
Sadly, holding down on the home button will always open Alexa — it's hard-coded behavior in Fire OS that can't be changed. If you don't plan on using Alexa at all, turning it off might help improve performance. Open the Fire OS Settings app, tap 'Alexa,' and switch Alexa to off.
Change the home screen launcher
So we've changed the browser, keyboard, assistant, and other apps, but what about the home screen launcher? It's still a constant billboard for Amazon services, and doesn't support app shortcuts, widgets, and other advanced features. While it is possible to change it, you need to connect your Fire tablet to a computer and use ADB to make the switch, which is a bit of a pain. There's also a chance your Fire tablet could revert back to the original launcher later, since this is an unofficial hack.
For this example, we'll use Lawnchair 2 as the replacement launcher, since it looks and feels very similar to the home screen on Google Pixel devices. If you want to substitute a different app, we'll get to that later.
After you install Lawnchair 2, it will appear as an app on the home screen. Now you need to install the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) utility on your computer, so we can run commands on the Fire tablet that will force Lawnchair to be used as the launcher. 15 Second ADB Installer is the easiest option on Windows, and for macOS/Linux/ChromeOS, try using Nexus Tools (disclaimer: I made Nexus Tools).
Once you have ADB installed, you need to enable USB debugging on the Fire tablet. Open the Settings app on the tablet, navigate to Device Options > About Fire Tablet, and keep tapping on the serial number until the "You are a developer" popups end.
Go back to the Device Options screen, select the new 'Developer Options' menu, and flip the big switch at the top to the 'On' position. Finally, scroll down to the Debugging section, and switch 'USB debugging' to on. Now you can use ADB with your Fire tablet. Plug it into your PC with any USB cable.
On your computer, open the Terminal (macOS/Linux) or Command Line (Windows) application. If you're on Windows, typing "cmd" (without the quotes) into the Start Menu should bring it up. In the window, type "adb devices" (without the quotes) and press Enter.
You should see a permissions popup on your Fire tablet that needs to be accepted. Check the checkbox that says 'Always allow from this computer,' then tap OK.
- Find the notification on your Fire Tablet that says "connected as..." and tap it.
- Tap the option for 'File transfer'.
- Try running adb-devices again on your PC.
Now you're finally ready to change the launcher. Run these two commands in your Terminal, one after the other, pressing Enter at the end of both:
adb shell pm set-home-activity ch.deletescape.lawnchair.plah/ch.deletescape.lawnchair.LawnchairLauncher adb shell pm disable-user --user 0 com.amazon.firelauncher
If all went well, Lawnchair should be set as the default launcher, and the Amazon launcher should be disabled. Try tapping the home button and see if it worked! Now try holding down on the home screen to add widgets and change the settings.
Pick your own launcher
If you would rather use something different than Lawnchair, you can certainly do that, but you have to find the package name of the launcher and the main activity. First, download whatever home screen launcher you want from the Play Store. You'll also need to install 'Activity Launcher' to find the exact function in the launcher to activate.
Open Activity Launcher, and once it's done loading, look for the launcher you want to use in the list. Once you find it, tap it to see all the activities in the application.
List of activities in Nova Launcher
What you're looking for here is the main activity — the component in the app that shows the home screen. It usually ends in just "launcher," or the app's name. Tapping on an activity will trigger it, so if you find one that just opens the launcher's home screen, you're good to go.
There's one additional component you need to find out: the package name of the launcher app. If you don't know how to do that, download ML Manager from the Play Store, and look at the string of characters listed underneath the launcher's name in the list.
The package name for Nova Launcher
Now that you have both the activity name and the package name, go back to your Terminal/Command window and run the below command (substituting "packageNameGoesHere" for the app's package name, and "activityNameGoesHere" for the activity name you found in Activity Launcher):
adb shell pm set-home-activity packageNameGoesHere/activityNameGoesHere
If a giant help page prints out instead of "Success," you're probably using an older version of Fire OS that doesn't have that command available. Try this instead, and don't delete the quotes:
adb shell cmd package set-home-activity "packageNameGoesHere/activityNameGoesHere"
Now you have to disable Amazon's built-in launcher, if you haven't already:
adb shell pm disable-user --user 0 com.amazon.firelauncher
Your Fire tablet should now use the launcher of your choice! Pat yourself on the back.
Back to the Amazon launcher
If you're having issues with third-party launchers, or you want to go back to Amazon's home screen for any reason, it's not too hard to reverse the changes. Run both of these commands, one after the other:
adb shell pm enable --user 0 com.amazon.firelauncher
adb shell pm set-home-activity com.amazon.firelauncher/.Launcher
Pressing the home button on your tablet should now open the Amazon launcher.