Kindle Fire: Dancing to the Beat of its Own Developer Drum

Kindle FireOn the heels of hearing the Amazon Appstore for Android is more profitable for developers than Google Play, we decided to do a brief overview of developing for the Kindle Fire. There are a few SDKs that work with Kindle Fire, and we’ll cover some of those in future posts. But since developing for the Kindle Fire is a little different than other Android devices it’s worth looking at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) SDK option from Amazon.

First though, there are a few things to note about the Kindle Fire that you need to know before creating any applications.

The OS is a forked version of Android Gingerbread flavor 2.3.5. They’ve stripped down to basically the kernel only in order to create a custom experience on the Kindle. In part this is because the device has no:

  • Physical buttons other than power
  • Camera
  • Microphone
  • Bluetooth
  • 3G radio

Obviously another reason it modified Gingerbread is to ensure that the resources customers use and the purchases they make are from Amazon and not Google.

But the modifications require developers to manage the changes when creating or porting apps to the Kindle Fire. The AWS SDK for Android accounts for that. The SDK is an extension of Amazon’s existing AWS infrastructure that allows development in many different languages.

The Android SDK includes:

  • The Android SDK Library full of APIs that work at a higher level than others so functions like error handling and authentication don’t need to be coded directly
  • Sample code using practical examples
  • Documentation for the SDK
  • Credential management via the AWS Security Token Service and sample applications to help developers learn how to use it.

Just this past week Amazon announced the addition of in-app purchases using an API for Amazon’s popular 1-click shopping feature found on its website. This feature improves the financial viability of apps by giving consumers an easy method for purchasing full apps, add-ons, expansion packs, etc. Chances are it will help improve the developers return on investment because people are already used to purchasing from Amazon. There’s no need to set up a new service like Google Wallet.

And speaking of Google, you won’t find any of its APIs supported on the Kindle Fire. At first this seems a bit limiting, something consumers wouldn’t want. But according to IDC’s latest figures the Kindle Fire is number two in tablet market share (iPad is number one obviously). So they must be doing something right.

If you’re a developer are you moving your Android development efforts to focus on the Kindle Fire, ignoring it, or splitting your efforts among the various flavors of Android out there?