Amazon’s Fire products are great pieces of tech, and often have incredibly useful, slightly hidden features to take advantage of. We’ve talked about these features for the Fire TV stick recently, and the Fire TV Cube. The Amazon Fire Tablet is the next piece of Amazon technology whose very cool secrets we want to show you.
The Fire Tablet is, like the iPad and the Galaxy Tab, a tablet—but it’s considerably cheaper. The Fire 7 Tablet costs just $50. That's quite a steal, even with the tablet being smaller than many with a 7-inch screen. This makes it more of a mini-tablet, but it’s perfect for bringing it everywhere to read Kindle books and comics (since it has a full color screen).
You can also download or stream TV shows, movies, music and audiobooks on the Fire Tablet, and take pictures. It can even let you browse the Internet, Skype people and play app games as much as you want.
There’s a lot to like about the Amazon Fire Tablet from the start, but we have five tips and tricks for you that will make your experience with it even better.
Read on to learn some features you might not have seen at first glance, or to see why it’s worth investing in a Fire Tablet now.
There are several models to choose from, but they all have these wonderful features, so any of them are worth your time. Now, on to the tips!
1. Expand your storage
The Fire HD 10 Tablet can be purchased with 32 GB or 64 GB of storage, but the smaller, cheaper Fire 7 only gets 8 GB or 16 GB. All of these amounts are OK, but since the operating system takes up some space, you can only download so many books, movies, and apps before it fills up—and that’ll happen quickly. Fortunately, all Fire Tablets have expandable storage, so you can get the cheaper tablet, and still get the space you need!
All you need is a microSD card. Yes, it’s an additional purchase on top of the tablet, but 64 GB microSD cards can be purchased for $20, so it’s still pretty cheap. The maximum microSD storage for most Fire Tablet models is 256 GB, but the Fire HD 8 can go up to 400 GB if you want.
There’s a microSD slot on the side of all Fire Tablets, and you just put the card of your choosing in there while the tablet is turned off. Once you turn the Fire Tablet back on, it should recognize the microSD card is there, and lead you through a series of instructions to format it for your device. After that, you’ll have more storage available, and you can have entire apps kept solely on the microSD card by going to your settings, and tapping "Storage," then "Move Apps to SD Card."
Within the "Storage" part of your settings, the Fire Tablet also makes it easy to see what’s on your tablet, and do away with what you don’t want to keep to free up memory space. Tap "Internal Storage" within the "Storage" settings, and you’ll see the types of files you have on your Fire Tablet, and how much space they take up. If you click on the file type, you’ll get a list of everything that you have that is that type of file, and you can delete things right there, based on how much space they’re taking up, or because you don’t want them anymore.
You can also use the "1-Tap Archive" option (also found in "Storage") to offload files and items you haven’t used in a long time. You can tap "View Content" within "1-Tap Archive" to see what would be removed and elect not to do it, or you can re-download specific files right from the Amazon Cloud.
Oh, did we not mention? The Fire Tablets come with free Amazon Cloud storage for all Amazon content, like Amazon movie downloads and Amazon photos, and photos taken with the tablet. This also helps with the limited storage, so those 8 GB and 16 GB, even 64 GB numbers are all misleading. The Fire Tablets can have a lot more storage than that, through the Cloud and microSD cards, so with easy file deletion, it might be one of the easiest tablets to store things on in the world.
2. Filter blue light
Blue light that emits from digital screens like computers and tablets has been shown to cause retina damage, and throw off circadian rhythms, making falling asleep more difficult. These effects can cause some serious health concerns later in life, including cataracts, muscle pain, heart disease and even cancer.
Understanding that people like to look at their tablets for extended periods of time, Amazon built a blue light filter into its Fire Tablets. This filter can be found by swiping down from the top of your Fire Tablet screen, and tapping the icon of the person sleeping in a bed named "Blue Shade."
Once the filter is activated, your screen color will change to a more orange hue, and you’ll get a notification that it’s on. If you tap on that notification, you’ll be taken to the filter’s advanced settings, where you can mess with how orange your screen is by manipulating the "Color" bar. It’s also where you can have the filter turn on automatically at certain times of day.
With "Automatic Activation" set to "On," you can set a schedule for when you want the filter to be on, where at all other times it’ll be off. It’s recommended that you have the filter on late at night, before you sleep, so you can have the filter go on an hour or so before you’d go to bed, and it’ll deactivate itself by morning.
Glasses that filter blue light exist, but it’s amazing that the Fire Tablet has this health-protecting feature built right into it. For those of us that can’t resist looking at screens before bed, this will save us a lot of future headaches (literally!).
3. Watch movies, but not just through Amazon
We just mentioned Amazon’s movie options, which are, of course, fully available on Fire Tablets to stream, and to purchase and download. This is wonderful, particularly for Prime members who have access to certain shows and films as part of the price of membership.
But what about those of us who have a large collection of films in iTunes, or Google Play? Or those of us who have our own home videos we want to watch on the go on our tablet?
The Fire Tablet can absolutely let you watch videos outside of Amazon’s interfaces, and it lets you do so easily. For those with the large iTunes, Google Play, or Vudu libraries, you can download the Movies Anywhere app onto your Fire Tablet to watch any of your movies, anywhere, at any time. The app even accesses Amazon, so you can find all of your movie purchases in one place.
Through Movies Anywhere, you can stream the movies you’ve purchased, or you can download them right to your tablet for offline viewing. With the app download, you get the ability to take advantage of many streaming and download services for film all at once, and you also get 5 free movies the first time you use the app. It’s a pretty sweet deal. If you have videos downloaded to your home computer that you’ve made, or that are from a download service other than the ones Movies Anywhere can access (check out some examples here), you can get these on your Fire Tablet as well.
Just connect your Fire Tablet to your computer via USB. Once you’re connected, get to your Fire Tablet’s storage (you might need to have a microSD card in your tablet in order for this to be accessible by your computer), and copy the video files you want into this storage space. These files have to be MP4, MKV, 3GP, M4V or WEBM format in order for the tablet play them. When the files are all copies and you unplug your tablet, go to "Video" on the tablet, and then "Library," and tap the menu in the corner. You should find the files you transferred under the category "Personal Videos," and you’ll be able to watch them on the go at your leisure.
You can also watch through apps like Netflix and HBO Now on your Fire Tablet, and Netflix will even let you download episodes and movies for offline viewing. So that’s another way to watch non-Amazon things on your Fire Tablet, but accessing non-Amazon movie libraries might be the most surprising method, and the most useful, for those of us who’ve built up movie libraries in multiple places.
4. Get apps that aren’t from Amazon
It shouldn’t be surprising that Amazon Fire Tablets are designed to have you download apps through Amazon’s app store. But what if you want more app options, or what if you want your favorite Android game on your tablet as well as your phone? It’s possible to get the Google Play store on your Fire Tablet, and get exactly that.
To get the Play Store on your Fire Tablet, you first need to be running Fire OS 5.x or later. Next, you need to enable non-Amazon apps on your tablet. Go to "Settings," then "Security," and put the switch "Apps from Unknown Sources" to the on position. Say "OK" to the warning box, and then download the files at the following links from the Silk browser on your Fire Tablet:
Google Account Manager APK (use this version instead of if you have the 2017 Fire HD 8)
Google Services Framework APK (use this version instead of if you have the 2017 Fire HD 8)
Google Play Services APK (use this version instead of if you have the 2017 Fire HD 8)
Google Play Store APK (use this version instead of if you have the 2017 Fire HD 8)
Tap the "Download APK" button at each of these to get the files you need, and download them one at a time, in the order listed here. When you get the "Download complete!" box, tap the "Open" link, and then scroll to the "Install" button on the next screen for each link. You can also access these downloads by going into the "Docs"/"Documents" app, then "Local Storage," and "Downloads." If you go about it this way, download each link one at a time, and install it before you go on to the next.
Once all 4 files are installed, the Google Play Store app will appear on your Fire Tablet. You’ll be able to log in to your existing Google Play account there, if you have one, or start a new one to begin downloading any apps you want. Note that it has to be the Google Play store to expand the app options on your Fire Tablet—they are Android-based tablets, and so the Apple App Store cannot be loaded . But most Apple apps have Android versions, so you should have most every app you could want anyway. A few apps might not be graphically compatible with your Fire Tablet, but the grand majority will be. So enjoy all of the new things you can do with your tablet!
5. Set up profiles
If you have, or are planning to get, a Fire Tablet that will be regularly shared with family members, it can be a little annoying to have your personalization messed with by other users. Everyone using the same device means everyone’s recommendations pop up, and photos get all jumbled together because they’re all under one account. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the way things stay, because you can set up profiles on your Fire Tablet.
Profiles let your Fire Tablet know different people are using the device. Much like on Netflix, and other streaming sites that allow some account sharing, whatever is viewed or purchased within a person’s particular profile will only influence their tablet usage. They can access certain movies and TV shows if they are shared to their profile, but their recommendations will be catered to them. No more cartoon characters next to shows like "Jack Ryan"—it’s like having your own tablet, without having to buy multiple tablets.
The Fire Tablet can have up to two adult profiles on it, each connected to different adult Amazon accounts (which can be sharing a Family Prime account, they just need separate log ins), and up to four child profiles. Child profiles can be given parental controls, much like those that exist on the Fire TV stick; you can forbid a child account from watching anything with a rating of R or Mature, as well as filter what they can access online through Silk. Child profiles can also have more or less Cloud backup availability, if they tend to eat up storage or have things that need to be preserved, like books.
For Child profiles, you can also, for just $5 or $3 a month depending on whether you have Prime, have access to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which gives kids over 10,000 movies, TV shows, games, books, and educational apps that are appropriate for their age group. This content is kept exclusively to them, so it keeps kids entertained and learning, while letting you browse your own favorite shows and books without worrying about them getting nosy.
Profiles on the Amazon Fire Tablet are just some of many amazing features on a fantastic device. With these tips and tricks listed above, the Fire Tablet goes from being cool, to being hard to live without. Go forth, and enjoy your tablet all the more now, or if you’ve been persuaded, go ahead and get your preferred model here. You absolutely won’t regret it!
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