One of the more common criticisms lobbed at Apple when it comes to iOS is its restrictive application approval policies. Apps that contain racy content, include features that compete with Apple’s own core functionality or that don’t adhere to their user experience guidelines are often rejected. To some extent, the criticism is warranted, although Apple has grown more accommodating over time.
Take browsers, for example. When the iPhone App Store first launched, you couldn’t dream of getting a Web browser other than Safari onto the device. For similar reasons, there was a long wait to get the official Google Voice app approved by Apple, since it duplicated some of the functionality of the phone. Over time, Apple loosened its restrictions and apps like Google Voice and the Dolphin Web browser are readily available on iOS.
Owners of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire who want to use third party browsers are facing limitations reminiscent of those early iOS days. Even though the Dolphin Web browser was originally developed for Android, on which the Fire runs, installing the app is apparently no easy task.
It’s Android, But With Some Limitations
The tablet runs on a modified version of Android 2.3 (also known as Gingerbread) and has access to Amazon’s own Android app store, which features fewer apps than the broader Android Market. Although its selection is more limited, the Amazon Android App Store does include Dolphin, Opera and a number of other third party browsers. Evidently, loading them onto one’s Kindle Fire requires tinkering with settings and, in some cases, side-loading apps directly onto the device using the USB port.
Amazon evidently prefers that Kindle Fire owners use its own Silk browser to access the Web. Silk, which uses Amazon’s cloud backbone to accelerate the loading of pages and predict your browsing habits, recently got the thumbs up from the Electronic Frontier Foundation after some initial privacy concerns.
At first glance, the Kindle Fire is a bit more restrictive about third party apps than Apple or other Android devices. However, it is possible to open the device up to a more expansive selection of apps, and doing so is easier than jailbreaking or rooting the device. Unlike the iPad or iPhone, the Kindle Fire has a toggle in its settings that lets users install apps from any source beyond Amazon’s store, including GetJar.