Making Kindle Fire apps with Andromo

The Kindle Fire, a 7 inch created by Amazon was announced on September 28, 2011. The device shipped with an Operating System (OS) based on the Android OS and locked the users of the device to the Amazon Appstore for all of their apps. Since then the device (according to data from October 2012 ) has gone on to sell over 7 million units making it number two in tablet sales behind Apple’s iPad.

Given the data the Kindle Fire and the Amazon Appstore represent an Android market that Andromo developers should explore. After all the Kindle Fire runs and OS based on the Android OS which means that developers can bring their apps to the Amazon Appstore with almost no changes. The only issues a developer may encounter surround Amazon’s Appstore approval process and the requirements necessary for that approval. With the release of Andromo 3.1.0 Andromo developers can now fully target the Amazon Appstore and be approved in a reliable way.

The Story So Far

The story previous to Andromo 3.1.0 was one of headaches and rejected apps for Andromo developers attempting to add their app to the Amazon Appstore. While Andromo made steps to improve support for Amazon kindle devices (as it became clear that it was something our developers wanted to target) it wasn’t enough. We tried a few different approaches including the 3.0.8 update which automatically translated Google Play activity links to Amazon App Store links when it detected that the app was running on a Kindle. We wanted to let people build one app and then be able to upload it to any Android store they wanted, but as time went on it became clear that this approach wouldn’t work.

The reality is that if you are going to develop apps for Google Play and for Amazon at the same time you are generally going to have to provide special builds for each app store. Builds that target each app store specifically, regardless of what device they are running, and will therefore pass the Amazon Appstore approval process.

The Solution

The addition of the Target Market setting on the App Info tab in Andromo 3.1.0 solves this problem and lets you easily add your apps to the Amazon Appstore. This setting allows you to build a version of your app that targets a specific marketplace. It changes the destination links for Google Play activities, PDF dependencies, share text, etc. so they point to either Google Play or the Amazon appstore.

As hinted at above if you want to add your app to both the Google Play and Amazon Appstore marketplaces you will need to build your app twice, once for each app store. In general this means following these two steps:

  1. Build your app with the target market set to Google Play: Android Phones and Tablets. When the build is done, save the file to your computer with a name that lets you know it was built for Google Play. E.g. app_xxx_yyy_google.apk

  2. After that is done edit your app and set Amazon Appstore: Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD as your target. Save your changes, and build the app again. When this build is done save the apk file to your computer with a name that lets you know that it was built for the Amazon Appstore: app_xxx_yyy_amazon.apk.

Now you are ready to add your app to each app store.

What Doesn’t Work

AirBop is not supported on Amazon devices as they do not have the necessary Google Services installed. If you want to use AirBop you will have to disable it when you target the Amazon Appstore.

Any links to Google Play in your HTML code. If you are attempting to promote or link to something in Google Play in any HTML Archive or Custom Page activity, you will have to edit your code so that it points to the correct app store that the target setting refers to.

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