Developing for the Kindle Fire HD
In September, Amazon announced the Kindle Fire HD, a new version of last year’s Kindle Fire with enhanced screen and other features. If you’re interested in developing and selling apps for this platform, know first that the Kindle Fire HD runs an Amazon-created variant of Android 4.0.3. This means that you’ll be working with the Android libraries and Java to develop your applications. There are many other differences and other important things to be aware of though.
SDK Features & Getting Into The Amazon Store
If you’re just getting started, Amazon provides an SDK for app developers that provides many APIs, services, and tools for developing apps. The SDK also provides resources for social networking inside of apps, like games, and support for in-app purchasing if you want to include upgrades or other items for purchase in your app.
One of the items that you might want to know about right away is how to get your existing apps into the Amazon store. If you’ve already developed Android apps, and want to expose them to a new market, submitting to the Amazon Mobile Store is a way to reach new users. This is an important detail because Amazon’s devices don’t use the Google Play store. The stores are non-exclusive, so you can submit to both, but Amazon’s store has a review and developer certification process that is vaguely similar to Apple’s, but less strict.
The overall concepts are similar though between Apple and Amazon. It’s also worth noting that as of the time of writing this, Amazon is waiving their $99 developer sign-up fee. They may begin charging this in the future, so you should be aware of that. Amazon says that they plan on using the fee to cover the costs of reviewing and supporting their applications and app store. If you’d like to review the rules about apps in their store, they are published here.
Kindle Fire HD Screen Sizes & Resolution
There are other things to be aware of as you develop the best app that you can, such as screen size and resolution details. There are four screen sizes for Kindle Fire devices, with different levels of pixel density. In short, there are several standard combinations that you should examine your app’s performance on to ensure that your app looks great on all of the devices that Amazon sells. Briefly, you should make sure that your app supports 1024×600, 1280×800 and 1920×1200, which are the standard resolutions available across the Kindle Fire HD line.
From Amazon: There are multiple screen sizes and resolutions you should consider when creating your APK.
The primary screen size categories:
- Small screen
- Normal screen
- Large screen
- Extra-large screen
For each screen size category, the device’s display may be:
- Low density (120 dpi)
- Medium density (160 dpi)
- High density (240 dpi)
- Extra high density (320 dpi)
Amazon also offers a feature known as Device Targeting for the Kindle Fire series, which lets you package all of the relevant versions of your app inside of one APK, and lets the device target which resources to use to match. This is better for your users, because they’ll never have to see several versions of the same app for different resolutions in the Amazon Store. They see the one app in general, and the correct version is presented on the user’s device.
Amazon’s Mobile Development Blog
Use Amazon’s other resources to learn about more Kindle Fire-specific optimizations, such as their development blog, which covers all types of advice across features, optimizations, and suggestions for improving the experience of your app. Their guidance ranges from code to use the device’s cameras faster and more accurately, to guides on optimizing power consumption of your app’s features. They publish several posts a week with development advice and suggestions to help make better apps, so take advantage of it.
Are you developing apps for the Kindle Fire platform? What issues have you encountered, and how did you resolve them? What other resources did we miss here? Please let us know in the comments.