I mentioned installing a new homescreen on the Kindle Fire to bypass the default homescreen and carousel in the Kindle Fire tips and tricks post, but I don’t think most people understand how easy it is and how it doesn’t require rooting or any technical work whatsoever.
The number one biggest complaint I’m seeing about the Kindle Fire is the default homescreen and carousel. A lot of people would rather have more options for customizing and a good share of folks want to do away with the carousel altogether.
So for this post I’m going to show you how to do just that by installing a new homescreen on the Kindle Fire and how to customize it to your liking with widgets and apps and themes. No rooting or hacking required.
Unfortunately most Android launchers won’t work on the Kindle Fire. Two that do are ADW EX and Go Launcher EX. I’d recommend the latter because it is loaded with customizing features. I never realized just how much it can do until I started experimenting with different things to put together this tutorial—it blows away all the other launchers I’ve ever tried by light years.
How to Install Go Launcher on Kindle Fire
Ironically Go Launcher is available for free in the Amazon appstore but Amazon hides it on the Kindle Fire I guess because they don’t want people to use it. Luckily the developers for Go Launcher post their apps on their website for easy download.
Here’s what you do to install Go Launcher on the Kindle Fire:
- Enable 3rd party app installs from outside the Amazon appstore by going to Settings > Device > Allow Installation of Applications.
- Open the web browser and go to the Go Launcher website.
- Download the latest version of Go Launcher (the other apps they offer are easier to download with Go Launcher after it is installed). I installed v2.71 for this tutorial; they update frequently so it changes often.
- Tap the Kindle Fire’s notifications bar in the upper left corner. Once the file is finished downloading, tap the notification to prompt install.
- After Go Launcher installs, you have the option of selecting it when you press the home button and it also appears as an app in the app drawer and on the carousel.
Go Launcher is Installed, Now What?
Now you can start setting up Go Launcher how ever you want. Here are some of the different things you can do:
- Long-press the homescreen to add applications and widgets.
- Press the middle button that looks like four squares at the bottom of the screen to launch the app drawer.
- Hold and drag apps to move them. You can also add them to the list at the bottom of the screen.
- Use the Launcher App located in the app drawer to jump back to the Kindle Fire homescreen and carousel.
- You can set Go Launcher as the default homescreen by checking the box when pressing the home button. To clear defaults go to Settings > Applications > Go Launcher > Clear Defaults.
- To uninstall apps long-press them or go to Settings > Applications > then select the apps to remove and tap uninstall.
- Change transitions: Menu > Effects.
- Change themes: Menu > Themes. Hit “More” > Go Store > Go Themes to download new themes. Then go back to the themes menu to apply.
- Change homescreen grid size: Menu > Preferences > Screen Settings > Grid size.
- Add more homescreen panels/delete homescreen panels: Menu > Edit.
Also, there are apps for most of the Amazon services, but you’ll still need to use the Launcher app to go the Kindle homescreen to access your books and magazines lists.
Some features don’t work like they should probably because the Kindle interface is interfering. Here are some things that don’t work:
- Custom screensavers reset to random Kindle Fire screensavers after going to sleep and powering off.
- Can’t create shortcuts.
- Can’t create folders.
- The themes shown don’t download; you have to launch the Go Store to get different themes.
- Go Locker doesn’t play nice with the Kindle Fire’s lockscreen; I would avoid installing it.
A couple of things I did to customize Go Launcher as shown in the picture at the top of this post was to reduce the size of the app icons in preferences. This makes them look better, especially in landscape mode. I also applied the WP7Blue theme downloaded from the Go Store and changed the icons on the power control and added different apps to the dock row.