There’s a new version of Android available for Amazon Kindle Fire users that aren’t afraid of rolling up their sleeves and hacking the tablet. It’s based on the popular MIUI software which is already available for dozens of other Android devices.
MIUI replaces the Kindle Fire’s version of Android with a user interface that looks more iPhone-like. There are no bookshelves with full lists of all the apps installed on you device, for instance. Instead, every time you install a new app it shows up on your home screen. But unlike the iPhone, you can arrange shortcuts any way you like or install widgets to display the time weather, news, or other information.
There’s a dock at the bottom of the screen where you can place frequently used applications.
The MIUI developers have also tweaked the Android settings and notification areas, providing quick access to wireless, display, screen rotation, and other settings from a “toggles” menu. The software comes with a file browser pre-installed, a custom music player, and support for themes.
The version of MIUI for the Kindle Fire also includes a few other goodies. The Android Market comes preloaded, so you don’t need to flash gApps separately. MIUI for the Kindle Fire also includes the Button Savior app, which lets you pull up on-screen buttons for home, back, menu, or search functions from any screen.
At this point, nearly everything works properly with MIUI for the Kindle Fire. Audio, wireless, and touchscreen features function flawlessly. The developer is still testing hardware video acceleration, so not all video features work properly. I had no problem streaming movies from Netflix, but the tablet crashed when I tried watching a video from YouTube. A future update should fix this problem.
In order to install MIUI on the Kindle Fire you’ll need to root you tablet, install the TWRP recovery utility, download the MIUI zip file, and then use TWRP to install it.
The steps for installing MIUI are very similar to those you’d use to install CyanogenMod or other software.
Here’s an overview:
Root the Kindle Fire
The easiest way to root the Amazon Kindle Fire is to use the Kindle Fire Utility. This is an app for Windows that allows you to connect your tablet to a PC with a USB cable, run some software on your computer, and root the tablet and make other changes such as installing the Google Android Market.
Note that rooting your tablet allows you to access system files and settings that would not otherwise be available. This means it’s possible to seriously mess up your device if you’re not careful. It will also prohibit you from accessing some Amazon services such as Amazon Instant Video unless you temporarily or permanently unroot your device.
This is the simplest part of the process of installing MIUI though, so if this sounds scary, you should probably stop reading.
If you’re not worried, go ahead and download the latest version of Kindle Fire Utility from the xda-developers forum to get started. Unzip the file to you computer, run the install_drivers.bat file first, and then run the Kindle Fire Utility file and follow the on-screen instructions for rooting your device.
Download MIUI and copy it to your device
Copy this file to your Kindle Fire and make sure you know what folder it’s in.
Install TWRP 2.0
The Kindle Fire Utility will also allow you to install TWRP on your tablet. The Team Win Recovery Project is a custom recovery tool that lets you backup your device, restore from a backup, wipe data, or replace or supplement your system software.
Choose the option to “Install latest TWRP Recovery” from the Kindle Fire Utility menu and follow the on-screen directions very carefully. Things have been known to go wrong when installing TWRP. If. for instance, your tablet reboots and gets stuck at a yellow triangle with a fire icon in the center, you’re probably stuck in fastboot mode.
You can try to use Kindle Fire Utility to change your boot mode to 4000 or normal. You may have more luck opening a command prompt and entering the commands manually.
It’s also possible to install TWRP manually without using Kindle Fire Utility.
If you do manage to get TWRP up and running, you’re in good shape. You can access TWRP by pressing and holding the power button on your device to turn it off, and then pressing it again to turn it on.
Instead of the Kindle Fire logo, you should see a yellow triangle with a fire icon in the center and a message that says to press the power button for recovery. Press and hold the power button until it turns from green to orange and in a few seconds TWRP should open.
Backup your device
At this point it’s a very good idea to backup your device. If you’re not happy with MIUI or you want to revert to the Amazon software or any other software you may be running, you can restore from a backup.
From the TWRP home screen tap the option that says backup, choose backup now, and wait for the process to finish before returning to the home screen by tapping the home button in the upper right corner.
Use TWRP to install MIUI
From the TWRP home screen, select the Wipe option, and then choose Factory Reset. This will erase all of the data on your system and data partitions.
Next, return to the home screen and choose the option that says Install. If you placed the MIUI.us_blaze_signed_LSD.zip file in the root of your “sdcard” storage, then you should see it in a window on the right side. If not, use the window on the left to navigate to the correct folder.
Tap the file you want to install, and then tap the Flash button to get started.
When the process is complete, follow the on-screen prompts to reboot your device. In a few minutes you should boot into MIUI for the first time.
You can always reverse this process by shutting down your device, entering TWRP, and using the restore option to restore from a backup.