The Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet ships with a highly customized version of Google Android 4.0 that’s tied to Amazon’s app, music, book, and video stores. The 7 inch Kindle Fire HD has a 1280 x 800 pixel display and more storage than the original Kindle Fire… but unlike the 2011 model, the new Fire HD also has a locked bootloader.
That makes it tougher to replace Amazon’s software with alternate operating systems… tougher, but not impossible. Developer Hashcode has been working on a method for getting around the locked bootloader, and it looks like it may be ready to release to the public soon.
Hashcode’s tool is called SafeStrap, and it basically hijacks the bootloader process, allowing you to create a multi-boot system.
Instead of replacing the Kindle Fire HD’s built-in operating system and recovery tools, SafeStrap will let you install custom recovery (such as TWRP) and custom ROMs on a separate portion of the tablet’s storage. Then when you turn on the tablet you’ll be able to choose which to run.
This should allow you to return to the stock operating system if anything goes wrong, but it should pave the way for developers to port CyanogenMod, AOKP, MIUI, and other popular custom ROMs to run on Amazon’s latest tablet.
Right now there aren’t any custom ROMs available for the Kindle Fire HD, and installing any ROMs developed for the original Fire or other devices could turn your tablet into a useless brick. But the good news is that as soon as Hashcode’s SafeStrap tool for the Fire HD is available, you’ll be able to to use it to make or restore a complete backup of your device. That should make future hacking efforts a bit safer.
Eventually the tool should also work on the Kindle Fire 2, Amazon’s $159 tablet. We won’t know how well it works on the upcoming 8.9 inch Kindle Fire HD until Amazon start shipping that tablet later this month.