I’m well aware that this entire post could be filed under “First World Problems”. There are more important, tragic and sinister things happening in the world than my struggles with my tablet. For more news on that and, more importantly, how you can HELP, visit The Red Cross Website
I’m not usually an Early Adopter. My family has a bad history with technology, and it’s not safe for me to get the latest gadget until it’s become the household staple for everyone else. However, a couple of years ago, I asked for a Kindle Fire for Christmas.
I didn’t have much need for a tablet (I’m still not sure there is a NEED for tablets at all – they’re essentially fun devices, not work tools) but I had recently added the Kindle app to my phone and was enjoying it. How much better would it be on a bigger screen? The Fire came with the ability to play videos and music too, and access the web, plus there were all the apps and games it promised. This would be better than a regular Kindle, and cheaper than an iPad.
But at that time, you couldn’t buy one in Canada. Lucky for me, my Sister-in-Law lives in the US, and I got my Fire for Christmas. It had all my kindle books waiting for me, and it did access the internet and play videos and movies… But there were some things it couldn’t do. Or rather, it WOULDN’T.
Because I wasn’t in the US, and didn’t have a US billing address, I couldn’t access the “Purchase tv shows and films” part of the Kindle. I couldn’t buy music from the online store. I couldn’t buy apps from the Amazon appstore. I could access third-party apps, but the sites offering these seemed dodgy, and more than one arrived along with a virus warning or something equally shady. I couldn’t go to the Google Play store, because you need to install the Play App, and that comes from the Amazon appstore which I couldn’t use…
None of this stopped my buying new ebooks (including my own!). I used the web on the kindle and took it on holidays as an additional entertainment centre with the pre-loaded movies and songs. I had audio books on it. But time and again I tried to find solutions to the locked areas of the Kindle – could I root it? No, I’m not tech-savvy enough. Could I get a US credit card billing address? No, that sounds too much like fraud. All I could do was wait for the day when Amazon decided Canada warranted an appstore of its own.
When that day came, I eagerly visited the appstore and purchased a few things I had been missing. Angry Birds, Netflix, the important things in life…. But although I got confirmation that I had bought them, and it said they were delivered, they did not appear on my Kindle Fire. I had no idea why.
Eventually, I had enough and risked hitting the “Factory reset” button. I wasn’t sure if this would help, but my various attempts to delete and re-install the Amazon Appstore app had caused all kinds of trouble. Miraculously, it DID work. When I rebooted the Fire after the reset, all the apps I had purchased were available for me to install. I still couldn’t use the appstore app, nor could I buy music or video from the dedicated stores (They’re still the US ones, still require a US billing address, and I can’t find a way to change that), but I could visit the appstore online using the web browser and purchase anything I liked.
It feels like my Fire has got a new lease of life. Though I haven’t gone nuts in the appstore, I’m sure I’ll find some apps that will add to my experience and help me in my work – maybe something for adding notes to pdfs for my script reading. I don’t regret the years without the extra access – I read many, many great books on the Fire, and enjoyed the movies, music and audio books I put on there. It’s been a useful addition to the household tech – but I’m glad it can do more now.