Amazon Fire Tablets: 4 Ways to Install Google Play Store Apps

In the first two installments of this 3-part series on Amazon Fire tablets, I explained what I like and don’t like about the devices and explained the key differences between the different models.

In this post, I’m going to provide instructions for dealing with the main thing I dislike about them, as discussed in the first post: despite being built on the Android problem, the Fire tablets don’t by default let you install Android apps from the Google Play store.

Fortunately, there are ways around this limitation. Unfortunately it’s not a 100% solution since some Android apps don’t provide full functionality once they are installed. Probably the most obvious (and annoying) example is the Google Cast app (formerly called the Chromecast app). On Android and iOs devices, this app provides the ability to cast content from compatible apps, like Netflix, to your TV using a Google Chromecast. On the Kindle Fire, there are some apps that you can cast to the Chromecast, but Netflix isn’t one of them. (I suspect this could be addressed by Netflix itself, but for whatever reason, they don’t seem worried about it.)

Also, if you have an older generation of a Fire tablet without that uses Fire OS 4.x instead of 5.x, there are even fewer apps that will work with them. For example, I can use Twitter’s live-streaming Periscope app on my Fire OS5 tablets, but not on the earlier ones.

Now that you’ve been warned that these aren’t perfect solutions, here are the instructions for installing Android apps that aren’t available in the Amazon app store.

A Few Basics

Android apps are files with a “.apk” extension. I think of them like .exe files for Windows, although I’m sure a developer could probably give lots of reasons for why that’s not an actual analogy. 🙂 When you install an Android app on an Android device you go to the Play store app and click Download, which downloads the .apk file to your device and then prompts you to Install it. All of this is done, however, without ever seeing the filename or where it gets downloaded.

You can also go to the Play store in a web browser on your computer, and it will ask you which device you want to download the app to. Unfortunately, it won’t let you download it to a Kindle Fire or your PC from there. (Life would be sooo much easier if Google would simply let you download the apk file to whatever device you want.)

So you have two options for getting the file onto your Fire tablet: 1) install the Google Play app or 2) find the standalone apk file somewhere else and download and install it manually. But before you start with either of these options, you need to take these steps first.

1. On your Fire tablet, go to Settings > Security and turn on Apps from Unknown Sources. If you don’t do this, you’ll get an error message when you try to install a non-Amazon app.

2. For the second option, go to the Amazon app store and install the free ES File Explorer app. This is a file manager app that lets you see where the apk files are stored on your computer. There are other file manager apps, but ES File Explorer is a very popular one that’s very easy to use.

The 4 ways to install Android apps on your Fire tablet

Install the Google Play Store App

This option is only available for Fire tablets running Fire OS 5. (I have seen instructions for doing it on earlier versions but was never able to get it to work despite multiple attempts.) So all fifth- and sixth-generation Fires will support it and fourth-generation tablets that have upgraded. If you’re one of the few who bought a Fire phone, this should also work for you, even though the operating system is OS 4.6.6.

NOTE: If you already have Play Store on a Fire tablet and it stopped working after the software upgraded to Fire OS 5.3.2, try restarting your device. That’s all it took to fix it for me.

The advantage of installing the Play Store app is that you’re getting the most current version of the app and you know it’s been vetted by Google. The disadvantage is that this involves the most steps.

I’m not going to provide the step-by-step instructions because they’re already spelled out beautifully with lots of screenshots in this Make Use Of article:

How to Install the Google Play Store on Your Amazon Fire Tablet

NOTE: When you get to the part where you have to download files from Root Junky, there are two different sets of files available. The first set, called, is for tablets with the newer operating system (Fire OS 5.3.1 or later), which includes the 2016 Fire HD 8 and any older tablets that have received an upgrade to that version. The second set, called, is for tablets with an older version of the operating system. Also, if you’re not someone who fiddles around with software settings a lot, this may look a bit intimidating. But it’s really not that bad. Just make sure you read each instruction carefully and do exactly what it says (this is not a good article to skim!).

Once you’ve installed the Play Store app, you use it just like you would on an Android device.

Just remember that successfully installing an app does not guarantee it will work exactly the same as it would on an Android device.

Get the APK File from an Android Device

NOTE: You can’t use this or any of the following methods to install the Google Play app on your Fire tablet. These are options if you don’t want to go through the steps listed in the section above or you have a tablet that doesn’t have Fire OS 5 on it.

I didn’t learn about this method until recently but now that I know about it, it’s my favourite one for my earlier devices because you’re still getting an official version of the app even though you can’t use the Play store. The problem is that you can only do this if you have an Android device (or know someone who does). However, if you use a lot of apps that aren’t on the Amazon store, it could be worth purchasing an inexpensive Android phone just to get the APKs. (You don’t need to activate cell service; just use it with Wi-Fi.)

For this method, you need to install the APK Extractor app by meher on your Android phone or tablet. When you open it, it will list all the APKs on the device; when you click on the one you want, it will download it as a standalone file. (Go into the app’s settings to select a location to download the file to.)

Once it’s downloaded, you need to get the file onto your File tablet. You can email it to yourself as an attachment or upload it to a cloud service like Google Drive, Amazon Cloud, or Dropbox, and then download it to your device. You can then use the ES File Explorer app to find the file; when you tap it, it will install the app on your tablet.

Get the APK File from a Third-Party Android Marketplace

The two marketplaces I’ve used are Aptoide and 1Mobile Market. You can install these apps on your Fire from the Amazon app store and then use them to find APK files that have been uploaded by their users. When you find the one you want, you just tap to download the file and when it’s on your device it will automatically start installing.

Before doing this, here are some very important considerations:

  • I recommend trying Aptoide first and only using 1 Mobile Market if you can’t find the app there. That’s because several times when I’ve installed apps from 1 Mobile Market I ended up getting notifications from it on my tablet. That wouldn’t have been too bad, except they were impossible to remove. I never have this issue with Aptoide.
  • The APK files are uploaded by users so be very careful before downloading them. Both marketplaces have some sort of “Trusted” designation for apps that they’ve run through some sort of verification process. I don’t download any that don’t have that designation and even for the ones that do have it, I always check the number of downloads and read the reviews before downloading them. If you have any qualms whatsoever, DO NOT download the file.
  • One of the advantages of these marketplaces are that they often have multiple versions of an app and sometimes if a current version doesn’t work on your Fire, you can uninstall it and try an earlier version.

Get the APK File from a Third-Party Website

If you can’t access the APK through any of the previous methods you can simply Google the name of the app you want with “APK” in the search box. You’ll get dozens of results of websites that claim to have the files. For obvious reasons, this is the least secure method of getting an APK. I’ve had success with (and you can just go there and search their library as well) and poor results with (which is why I’m not linking to it). Your experience may be completely different, but just be VERY cautious about using these sites.

Do you know any other methods for installing Google Play apps on your Fire tablet? Share them in the comments below!

You may also be interested in:

Amazon Fire Tablets: Pros and Cons

Amazon Fire Tablets: Which One Is Right for You?

Elizabeth Kricfalusi

View Comments

    • Hi Steven.

      I was able to install WeChat on my Fire tablet using the steps in this post under the heading, "Install the Google Play Store App." Have you tried that? If so and it didn't work, how old is your tablet?

      - Elizabeth

  • Thanks for the info. I was able to install Google Play on my son's Fire Hd 8 Kids Edition.
    However, I was only able to have on the Parent Profile, so any apps I install will reside there and not on my son's Child Profile.
    Any work around?

  • I have the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet and I can't find "Settings > Security and turn on Apps from Unknown Sources".
    Please help me find a way to get apps like Clash of Clans to work on my son's tablet.

    • Found it. I just had to make sure that I was looking in SETTINGS under MY profile and not my CHILD'S profile.

      • Sounds like this is part of the parental controls to prevent kids from adding apps that might damage the tablet.

  • I have been using Google PlayStore on the kid's edition Kindle for over a year and had no issues. When updating apps the key is "from which store was this downloaded". Having a 5yr old have full access to both stores it does get confusing. All Apps, both from the Amazon underground & Google Playstore updates without issue. It's important to do regular maintenance like removing unused apps, as updates take up additional space. I find that on the Fire Tablet storage section in the "miscellaneous" tab under "other" I have 1.3 gig that I'm unable to clear. I'm able to check mark everything else and remove it. Being an 8gig Tablet with usable 5gig of which 3gig is used for downloaded apps space is at a premium.

    • Yes, that "other" category is a mystery. Thanks for sharing these tips, Shafiek! - Elizabeth

    • Thanks for sharing this info, Z. Note to other readers: I haven't tested this site myself, so make sure you do your due diligence before downloading from it. - Elizabeth

    • Thanks for sharing that, J. I haven't tried it out myself, but others can check it out if they don't like the other options. - Elizabeth

  • I bought a Amazon fire hd 8 recently and ever since I had downloaded it I started to see that my battery chared only 50 percent over night. The most suspicious app for me is my google play services that I need in order to launch the app store but on my screen the app is displayed as "what is my ip" Can anyone tell me a solution to this problem or is it better for me to hard recet my device, wipe it out compleatly.

    • Hi Konstantin.

      I'm not sure what's happening there with "What is my IP" showing up instead of the Play Services icon. I wouldn't factory reset your device yet. First I'd try deleting all the Play Store-related apps and reinstalling them using the system on this page.

      Good luck!

      - Elizabeth

  • I apologize if this question has already been asked, I'm not the best when it comes to reading. Anyway, I did install Google's Play Store on my Amazon Fire HD (2016) and I noticed a lot of programs on the Amazon store are also on the Google Play store, except the programs from the Google play store works great and then the exact same programs installed on Amazon store don't work. Twitch, for example, open it in Amazon and the chat is constantly "connecting" then the Google Play store version plays the application with all the features. So I have these apps and one application is always telling me there's an updated version so I go there and now it says something about the program is from another source do I want to open it with Amazon store instead? It gives me only two choices, to continue (in Amazon's store) or cancelling. Is there a way to make the google store a default for certain programs or for most? I'm new to the kindle world and didn't even purchase it until I saw I could put Google Play Store on it.

    • Hi Sha.

      Yes, it's definitely confusing. If you originally installed an app from the Amazon store, then when there are updates available you will only have the option to update it from there directly from the update message it sends. But you can manually go to the Google Play store and install the app from there. After that, when there are updates available, they should take you to the Google Play store, not the Amazon store.

      I hope that helps.

      - Elizabeth

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