Amazon’s Kindle Fire 2 is one of the cheapest Android tablets around (if you’re looking for a model with decent build quality and performance, anyway). But the $159 tablet runs Amazon’s custom version of Android — which means you’re stuck with Amazon’s app store and user interface… unless you replace the software with something else.
Developer Hashcode has been offering unofficial builds of CyanogenMod 10.1 for the Kindle Fire 2 since January. But recently he became a full member of the CyanogenMod development team, which means that his nightly builds of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean for the tablet are now considered official CyanogenMod 10.1 releases.
But you’ll find more detailed instructions at the xda-developers forum, where Hashcode explains how to backup your device using the Android SDK and then run software to bypass the Kindle Fire 2′s locked bootloader, install a 2nd bootloader and then use that to load a custom recovery and custom ROMs such as CM10.1
If that all sounds like gibberish, read the instructions very carefully before proceeding because you could damage your device.
Or you could just spend an extra $40 to buy a Google Nexus 7 instead of a Kindle Fire 2. The extra money gets you a tablet that’s about the same size and shape, has a higher-resolution screen, twice as much memory, and standard Google Android software.
But if you’ve already got a Kindle Fire 2, it’s nice to know you can free it from Amazon’s restrictions using one of the most popular custom builds of Android around.