Amazon’s Kindle Fire is perhaps the best deal in tablets. Priced at a mere $200, you could buy a Kindle Fire for yourself and your best friend, and still have not spent as much as you would by purchasing an Apple iPad 2. But this low price does come with some downsides; namely, you are stuck with a highly modified version of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) that leaves no trace of the Google-made operating system.
Now, that might not necessarily be a bad thing. We actually found the Amazon-modified UI to be easy and enjoyable to use — more so than Android itself, in some ways. That said, it still lacks the full functionality of an Android tablet that some users are looking for. Most troubling is its omission of the Android Market, which has far more apps than the Amazon-controlled alternative. But thanks to a hacker known only as Stephen, brave Kindle Fire owners could soon have not just Android, but the newest Android available, version 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich.”
In a video posted to YouTube (see below), Stephen shows ICS working fairly well — which is something, as the open source software could have not worked at all. This shouldn’t be a surprise, however, as the Kindle Fire has fairly solid specs, like a 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4 processor, and 512MB of RAM, making it a perfect candidate for this kind of hack.
As Jared Newman at PC World reports, Amazon has so far not battle back against hackers messing with their newest gizmo, which was specifically designed to make people buy more stuff from Amazon (thus the modified UI). Still, it’s possible that Amazon could crack down on this kind of tinkering, which is why anyone who’s serious about upgrading to ICS should replace the Kindle Fire’s ROM, making it impossible for Amazon to automatically update the device with its own software.
Even with ICS installed, the Kindle Fire still lacks some of perks a fully loaded tablet, like a camera, SD card slot, or 3G/4G connectivity. But for $200, there’s not much room for being picky.
See the Kindle Fire running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) below: