What's what with Amazon's Fire OS 3.x

What's what with Amazon's Fire OS 3.x

Summary: Amazon has a new Android-based operating system for its new line of Kindles - for business as well as fun.


Believe it or not, the most popular Android tablets are Amazon Kindle Fire devices. And, if you're still thinking of the Kindle Fire line as just being a fancy e-reader, think again. Its new operating system, Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito" is being designed not just for home-users but for business professionals as well.

Kindle Fire HDX
Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX might just be your next business tablet. (Credit: Amazon)

Fire OS 3.0 is based on Android 4.2.2, not Android 4.3 as widely reported. Like previous versions of Fire OS, Amazon has customized Android to use its online store and services' functionality. Unlike earlier versions, Fire OS 3.0 will only work with the new Kindle Fire HD and HDX series devices, and only the higher-end HDX will be able to fully use all Fire OS's new features. In addition, Fire OS 3.0 is only an interim release. The full capabilities of Fire OS will only come in mid-November with the release of Fire OS 3.1.

Amazon debuts revamped Kindle Fire HDX range, Fire OS 3.0 (pictures)

When all of Fire OS 3.1 is here, both home and business users will find a lot to like.

For home users, the top features include integration with Goodreads, an online social network for readers; Second Screen, which will enable you to stream your Amazon video content to your PlayStation 3 and Samsung TVs; and Quiet Time, which will mute the device during user-determined times or activities, such as reading.

That's all nice, but none of it's all that exciting. For example, Google's Chromecast does the Second Screen trick better by already supporting any video that can be played on a Web browser.

The business-class features are actually what's most interesting in Fire OS 3.1. The top-end Kindle Fire HDX, which will list for $379 for the 8.9-inch 16GB Wi-Fi and starts shipping on November 7 and the similar equipped 4G version that will cost $479 and start shipping on December 10, really are potential Microsoft Surface 2 competitors.

The MayDay feature will bring you technical support for your HDC whenever you need it. And, when the Web retail giant says whenever, they mean "whenever." Amazon promises 24-hours a day, 365-days a year live support in 15-seconds or less.

That's the good news. The bad news is that Amazon can control your device if you use MayDay. Now that may be fine if you end up using a HDX in a small business or BYOD situation. But, if you're working for a bigger or more security cautious, business, your IT department will have doubts about using an HDX tablet in the office.

On the other hand, the Fire OS 3.x includes management application programming interfaces (API)s so IT staffers can manage them via Mobile Device Management software vendors AirWatch, Citrix, Maas360, MobileIron, and SOTI. It's not the same as having say Active Directory (AD) on them, but it will still be enough for many shops.

The revised operating system also finally supports some threading in its built-in e-mail client. In addition, you'll finally be able to print wirelessly from the new Kindles.

Fire OS 3.x also supports encryption for the user partition to secure data on the device. Users will also be able to connect to secure enterprise Wi-Fi networks at work via a native or third-party virtual private network (VPN) client.

Which VPN protocol? Good question. Amazon hasn't answered it yet.

All-in-all Fire OS 3.x looks promising for business. Unfortunately until we have it our hands in a few weeks, that's about as much as we can say.

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Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Android, Linux, Mobile OS

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  • Please replace my 3 22" screens

    with a dopey 8.9" toy
    • Please,

      Take your three 22" screens and use them while on a train commute.
  • Fire HD

    Does the new Fire HD offer the same OS? If so, then this is an IMPORTANT product for school children. Instead of schools buying iPads, parents can happily buy the Fire HD and the tablets could run "safely" on school networks. Schools save money. Don't do the LA Unified scam of 30 M$ for iPads.
    • surface is the only device with a Capacitive Stylus

      all other tablets are worthless for schools without this, the crappy eraser tip pen that itoy and droid use is such crap.
  • Is It Just Me...

    ...or does $379 seem like a lot for that size?

    ...or does it seem like lots of devices get orphaned in the Andoid ecosystem because 6 months after they're released, the next version of the OS won't run on your device? I'm not trying to start a fight, I just find it really odd that the current KF's that were just sold are not upgradable.
  • Is it, or isn't it?

    From the article:
    "Summary: Amazon has a new Android-based operating system"
    "Believe it or not, the most popular Android tablets are Amazon Kindle Fire devices."

    Amazon's Fire OS is indeed AOSP-based, but is it Android?

    At least one popular Android blogger (JR Raphael of "Android Power" at Computerworld) has stated unequivocally that "Amazon's new tablets are not Android devices" based on (1) absence of the traditional Android home screen, (2) no access to Google Play apps including popular Google services and (3) no access to Android's core services. More here:


    P.S. It's quite funny that Amazon's Android-based devices are more popular than Android tablets manufactured by members of the Open Handset Alliance. I wonder whether the same might happen with Amazon's RHEL-based Amazon Linux AMI for EC2 relative to Red Hat's Cloud business.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • but are they more popular?

      Just because a press release or position on a chart states something doesn't mean it's really accurate.

      You know the old saying, Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics. I'd like to see the underlying numbers that support the best seller claim. Something smelleth if you know what I mean.

      On Amazon, it might really be a best seller because Amazon sells books and it is marketed as a reader.

      Overall market is quite different. So, what are the real numbers?? I haven't been able to find them.
      • Cynical99: "Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics"

        There's a lot of truth in your statement. If one looks at devices/tablets in the hands of users, Localytics' data (January, 2013) puts Amazon's Fire devices at the top with an Android market share of 33%. Both Barnes & Noble Nook devices with 10% and Samsung with 9% trail Amazon. More here:


        If one looks at device/tablet shipment data for 2013 Q2 (includes Apple's iPads), then Samsung wins with 21.6%, with Amazon trailing at 4.5%:


        So, depending on one's source, Steven's statement in the Article does have some validity. In any case, it seems clear that OHA-manufactured tablets are in the process of catching up with Amazon.

        P.S. Localytics' data are based on app usage where apps have Localytics analysis and marketing data installed. According to Localytics', there were, at the time, over 500 million unique devices running its software.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • 500 million unique devices

          With numbers like that, how you count is incredibly important. I must wonder if Amazon is just counting sales through Amazon, so naturally the Kindle sales would skew higher in their survey than any other survey.

          Also, what time period are they using? 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or more?

          One must admit that if it's an Amazon best seller, it is selling well, provided Amazon is releasing accurate numbers of course. but it seems no one can really say how well -

          Statistics, the most confusing field, and designed to be that way.
  • Android Apps via Google Play!

    Does it support Android Apps via Google Play?