Kindle Fire Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Review and How To (Video)

Kindle Fire Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Running Android 4.0 on the Kindle Fire is one of the many options to change out the operating system from Amazon’s version to one that is more open and widely available on other tablets and smartphones.

I’ve already posted a review and how to guide for CM7 on the Kindle Fire, a custom version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread. For this review and tutorial I’ll show you CM9 on the Kindle Fire for the latest version of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Installing custom ROMs adds more functionality and features to the Kindle Fire, and adds a lot more options for customization.

There are different ROMs for getting Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the Kindle Fire. Some have different themes and tweaks. For this review I’m using the February 24th release of the straight CM9 (CynangonMod) ROM from over at XDA.

I’ve been running Android 4.0 on my Kindle Fire for a few days now and so far I’m very impressed with how smooth it is and how well it works. The developers at XDA have done a great job with it. It’s still not complete yet so not everything works, but it’s about 90% there.

The main things that don’t work as of the 2/24 release are hardware video decoding, so Netflix, HD YouTube videos and other videos won’t run. Wi-Fi can be spotty at times (re-booting usually fixes that), and sometimes the Kindle will freeze up. When that happens, holding the power button for like 15 seconds turns it off so you can reboot.

A few other things that don’t work are Flash video and the light sensor. Here’s the complete buglist for this version of Android 4.0 on the Kindle Fire.

Aside from the bugs, Android 4.0 runs surprisingly well on the Kindle Fire. It’s fast and smooth. Screen transitions are quick and the touchscreen is accurate and responsive. Video games work well, the ICS web browser is really nice, you can add widgets to the homescreen, and drag and drop apps, and create folders. Some non-HD YouTube videos work okay. Google Apps seem to be working well, including Gmail, Maps, Calendar, Market, Search, and Google Reader, among others.

Obviously you lose the Kindle Fire’s stock functionality when running ROMs, but you can still use Amazon’s appstore app, the Kindle app, MP3 app, and shopping app. It’s not exactly the same experience but it’s close. For instance, the regular Kindle for Android app doesn’t have all the text adjustment options the Kindle Fire’s app has, and apps that are specially made for the Kindle Fire won’t show up in Amazon’s appstore when running a ROM, the ones that say Kindle Fire Edition.

Overall Android 4.0 is impressive on the Kindle Fire, even if it’s not entirely finished and ready for prime time yet. CM7 is more polished at this point—for one it has hardware video decoding so videos work—but I like CM9 a lot better. Android 4.0 is more suited for tablets and it’s a better operating system overall.

I don’t need to watch videos on my Kindle Fire so I going to keep running CM9 on it as the primary operating system. Once video gets added it will be even better. The only thing I’m really missing are some of the Kindle Fire Edition apps, but I can always switch back to the stock operating system to use them.

How to Install Android 4.0 on the Kindle Fire

Installing custom ROMs on the Kindle Fire is a lot easier than you think. The entire process can be completed in about 20 minutes. All you need is a rooted Kindle Fire and a recovery tool such as TWRP Recovery installed.

First, follow the directions on the Kindle Rooting guide. Then check out the TWRP Recovery tutorial and you’ll by running Android 4.0 on your Kindle Fire in a no time. You can even flash the Google apps package after flashing CM9 to get the Android Market and Google apps.

Here’s the thread at XDA to download CM9 and the Google apps pack for the Kindle Fire.

Video: Kindle Fire with Android 4.0 Walkthrough

22 Responses to “Kindle Fire Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Review and How To (Video)”

  1. Have you installed CM9 on a Nook Color yet? (I am referring to the original Nook Color…not the Nook Tablet.)

    • That looks like a decent tablet for the price as long as shipping is free, but I’ve never ordered from that website and know nothing about them.

      I recently found myself in a similar situation where I had the choice of ordering the Novo 7 Paladin (review forthcoming) from an unfamiliar Chinese wholesale site for $99 or from Amazon for $130. I chose the latter because if there’s anything wrong with it I can easily return it within 30 days and shipping was a lot faster.

      Unfortunately I couldn’t find the Archon 2 listed anywhere else. But you may be able to find the exact same device with a different name.

  2. Thank you for the info Nathan

  3. @Ken: I’m running CM9 on the Nook Color. Works as smooth as CM7… Or maybe slightly slower. Just don’t forget to overclock to 1200mhz.
    Else flash, YouTube, etc works. No hardware video acceleration yet.

  4. Gemsroadwarrior March 8, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Does the Kindle Fire have the same problems with Ice Cream Sandwich that the Nook Color has. That problem being that not all apps work (such as Mapquest) and videos don’t play on most video apps (Netflix, Vimeo, UStream) but they do play on Flixster and YouTube?

  5. Does KFU work on 6.2.2?

  6. Thanks for the great information. After installing CM9, is there any way to revert back to the original ROM from Amazon? How can we do it?

  7. Hello, i just followed your video on how to root the kindle fire and is was successful! So thank you so much! I have also successfully transformed it to using the ice cream sandwhich OS and i just had a few questions…

    Questions (Im sorry im such a noob..):
    1. Is “play store” the same as android market? Amazon app store?
    2. My kindle fire is brand new, so can i still take advantage of the “1 month free amazon prime”?
    3. Just to make sure.. does the kindle fire NOT play movies anymore when i root it to Ice cream sandwich? I tried mp4, mpg, avi videos and they all studder…
    4. How to i put downloaded (Mobi) books onto the rooted(ice cream sandwich) kindle fire?

    Thank you again!!!

    • 1. Google recently changed everything to the Play Store.

      2. I don’t see why not.

      3. “The main things that don’t work as of the 2/24 release are hardware video decoding, so Netflix, HD YouTube videos and other videos won’t run. ”

      4. The same way you would put them on a non-rooted Kindle Fire: USB, email, dropbox, etc.

  8. Yesterday I utilized your video on how to install ICS to the Kindle Fire. It went successful, but I have some questions. There are certain areas of the kindle that will not function at all. I am unable to resize the apps, and I want them larger on my screen. I also saw your recent reply on the video playback, and I am having trouble the IMDB app, and I am assuming that is the same problem with youtube, ect.??? Thanks for your help!

    • The default ICS launcher doesn’t have app resizing. You can change the size of widgets by holding down on them…

      Other launchers have custom icon sizing such as Go Launcher.

  9. I have installed c9 rom on kindle fire it works smoothly but I cannot transfer my files from my computer onto the kindle through the connecting cable, is there a way out, ….thanks keep it up a real nice work…

    • It’s been a long time since I messed with this so I’m not sure. There might be a checkbox in settings, development for USB connecting. I don’t like USB cables so I don’t generally use them. I mostly use Dropbox and SugarSync for transferring files, and a memory card–still can’t believe Amazon didn’t give it one. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the only Android tablet on the market without one.

  10. Hello again! Recently I just rooted and installed a CM9 ROM on my Kindle Fire and everything is working just fine (I installed a different one from the one you used. It has hardware video decoding, the Google Play Store and etc.!)

    But the power off/power on process is very frustrating. I power it off only to get a blank back-lit screen, showing that the Fire hasn’t completely shut down. I had to press and hold the power button for a few more seconds until the screen goes black. Same with the power on. It takes at least two tries to get it to boot.

    I read somewhere on the XDA forums that every Kindle Fire CM9 ROM has this so called “sleep of death” bug while turning it on or off. I want to know if you are also encountering the same problem. Perhaps you have a better solution for it? Thanks!

  11. any idea when does the official ICS update for Kindle Fire will be hitting the air..?

    • As far as official, probably never. I think the new kernal allows for playing video now and whatnot, but I’m not sure. I kind of stopped paying attention to the progress of development after doing this review, but you should be able to find some info at XDA.

  12. hello friends, I downloaded this version Kindle ICS Fire and installed it on my toshiba tablet semp “myPad STI.”
    But the 3g internet does not work at all, does anyone know of any solution for this?
    Thank you for your friends.