When Amazon first released their first generation Kindle Fire, the tech world seemed to be very curious as to why they would use their own customized flavor of the Android platform.
Straying from the norm of other tablet manufacturers, Amazon felt that it was best to develop and maintain a slightly different version that is specific to their ecosystem.
The first version of the Kindle Fire operating system used a customized Android 2.3 Gingerbread as the base. Amazon felt that there were some user specific issues that they wanted to address. Specifically, they wanted users to user their version of an app store and not the Android app store which is today known as Google Play.
I guess this makes sense from Amazon’s perspective in that as an Amazon user, my purchasing decisions can be more tightly funneled to Amazon’s services.
The newest version of the operating system used on the now brand new Kindle Fire HD uses Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as it base. In terms of competition, this is where the Kindle Fire HD may lose an edge to the Google Nexus 7 because it is running the very latest OS called Jelly Bean and for tech enthusiasts this can be a show stopper.
So, what is really different?
At the core level, nothing really. Amazon uses the Android OS to do the work as it was originally designed. No big deal I suppose.
The user interface, however, is where most of the changes have occurred. Amazon’s Android flavor doesn’t use Google’s interface or even the standard apps. Rather, it uses its own UI with it own app store by which users can more easily consume online media content.
In fact, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said when he introduced the Fire HD that “The Kindle Fire is a service.” This gives us a little insight as to the direction that Amazon sees the Fire going forward – a pathway to all that Amazon has to offer.
What about speed?
The new Fire HD is faster than its predecessor. However, is it faster than the Google Nexus 7 which by all accounts is its stiffest competition due to price and physical size?
Wired performed a comparison and concluded that the Nexus 7 was faster “in terms of pure speed” and felt that it was probably due to the fact that the Fire HD version has been customized while the Nexus 7 version is “native”.
Food for thought.