Original Kindle Fire gets an (unofficial) Android 4.4 KitKat update

Amazon may be busy selling its third-generation of Kindle Fire tablets this fall, but the original Kindle Fire which was launched in 2011 still has its charms. The tablet has a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel IPS display, 512MB of RAM and 8GB of storage — and if you don’t already have one, you can usually pick up a used or refurbished model for well under $100.

The original Kindle Fire also happens to be a surprisingly hackable device. It ships with Amazon’s Fire OS, which is based on Android. But hackers have been running CyanogenMod and other Android ROMs on the tablet since shortly after it launched

Now, just a few weeks after Google released the source code for Android 4.4 KitKat, you can even run KitKat-based ROMs on the tablet.

Amazon Kindle Fire with Kitkang

Developer FuZZ__ has released an unofficial build of CyanogenMod 11 for the original Amazon Kindle Fire. He calls it Kitkang, and it’s basically a customized version of CM11 Alpha that’s been compiled to run on Amazon’s tablet.

Performance isn’t perfect yet — there are some graphical glitches and the stock web browser doesn’t work very well. But you can install another web browser such as Firefox or Dolphin. Hardware-accelerated video playback seems to work, and I was able to stream video from Netflix without any problems.

Overall, Android 4.4 for the Kindle Fire is still very much a work in progress. But considering the fact that Amazon doesn’t officially support the software, and Google hasn’t really done anything to ensure compatibility with the hardware, it’s impressive that there’s an even semi-functional build of KitKat for the first-generation Amazon Kindle Fire so soon.

The easiest way to install Kitkang on the original Kindle Fire is to use the Kindle Fire Utility to install a custom recovery such as TWRP 2.6.3.1 which you can use to load the operating system.

 

If you already have a custom recovery, you’re probably good to go — but if you use TWRP, make sure you’ve got the latest version or you won’t be able to flash an Android 4.4 ROM. It’s also probably a good idea to make a backup of your device before installing any ROMs.

cm11 kindle fire_02

You’ll also probably want to install a Google Apps file to add access to the Play Store and other Google services. You can either try a build with all of the Google Apps or a minimal 20MB file which installs the Google Play Store and not much else, allowing you to install other apps manually.

  • Kiraisuki

    You may want to fix that error! a 20GB Google Play Store package is anything BUT minimal!

    Thanks for notifying me! I’ve been waiting forever for a new Kitkat ROM for my age-old Kindle Fire :D

    • sledge beast

      So if you do this and change you mind afterwards can you get back to being a kindle. Also can you run the kindle interface along with this hack like on the side, dual boot, or as an app/icon?

  • geolehman

    I get tired of reading about these custom ROMs that kinda work. Do you ever report on custom ROM development that is fully functional? The reporting seems to stop at the alpha stage and then we hear very little. I have found numerous custom ROMs that have been started; are almost working; and then two years later, they still ALMOST work.

    • Michael Thompson

      I also would like to see some longer-term follow ups to some of the articles.

  • Kandye Hill

    Where can I get step by step Info on how to do this?

  • Frank

    I have installed cyanogen mod 11 with kitkat 4.4.1. Runs extra smooth on my kindle first generation. There is a step by step on XDA developers that shows step by step. First you need to install TWRP recovery. Then download the zip files for the mod. Then boot into recovery mode, add zip file images to load ing area, boom! Reboot and done.

    • oli

      please give a link, where this is?

    • bystander411

      Did you get Google Play app to show up?

  • Frank

    Also, these are fully functional and the issues that can plague android phones will affect tablets too. You have to learn how to root and then flashing ROMs will get easier. Keep in mind that android I s open source, there might be a glitch at times.

  • Frank

    But for the most part, they work great. Surf the net and you tube with issues. Gmail works great as well

  • frank

    There is a thread over XDA developers that shows how.

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1591850

  • gwolfe7

    Can this also be installed to the Kindle Fire HD?

  • sledge beast

    So if you do this and change you mind afterwards can you get back to being a kindle. Also can you run the kindle interface along with this hack like on the side, dual boot, or as an app/icon?

  • bystander411

    I was able to get 4.4 on my Kindle 2011 with no problem. Works nicely.

    But how do I get Google Play on there? I tried the two links (the second one goes to another links)……I am not getting anywhere.

    Any helps will be greatly appreciated!

    • ashutosh

      Download the corresponding Gapps package and flash it just like you did your ROM. Or are you suggesting that you’re not able to find a compatible Gapps package (that would be weird).