Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will release the Kindle Fire HDX the week of Oct. 21, and the updated tablet’s specs match up nicely to similarly priced Android slabs. Amazon has also updated the Silk browser on “startlingly light” Fire HDX models, which range in price from $229 to $424, as well as the Fire OS.
Since Amazon's Fire OS is a “forked,” or customized, version of the Android operating system, Kindle Fire HDX tablets will not have access to the Google Play app store. Many apps, such as Netflix and Minecraft, are now available on the Amazon App Store, but several popular developers have not made their app available for the Kindle Fire HD, or upcoming HDX.
If you are thinking about pre-ordering a Kindle Fire HDX from Amazon, or picking one up when it's released later this month, keep in mind that a few of the most popular apps available on Google and Apple devices will be missing.
1) Google Maps
The Kindle Fire HDX will not have access to Google Maps, or any mapping software for that matter, since the newest Amazon tablets will not have GPS built into either the 7- or 8.9-inch models. That means no Waze for drivers looking to avoid traffic, either.
Since Kindle Fire tablets lack access to the Google Play Store, this means they also cannot use Google Earth, or any Google apps, for that matter.
2) Candy Crush Saga
Whether you enjoy the occasional bout of Candy Crush while waiting in the doctor’s office or are a full-blown addict, you will not get your fix on a Kindle Fire HDX. The game, famous for its free-to-play model of purchase, offers in-game purchases for items and extra moves for those who are willing to pay to beat a level. There are workarounds for installing Candy Crush Saga on the Kindle Fire HD (and probably the HDX, when it is released), including the option to side-load the game or play through a Web browser, but it is not available to download as a full-fledged app.
While Twitter and the short video creator app Vine are now available in the Amazon App Store, Instagram is absent. There are several imitation apps that will eventually be available for the Kindle Fire HDX, but the real thing is not accessible.
4) Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox
Amazon does not allow Kindle Fire owners to set a default browser other than Silk. Amazon developed Silk specifically for Kindle Fire tablets, and does not want all of that hard work to go to waste.
This means that, although you might enjoy using Google Chrome on your PC or Mozilla Firefox at work, you will be using Silk on the Kindle Fire HDX.
5) Google Drive
Another one of the useful Google apps that are not included in the Kindle Fire ecosystem, Drive cannot be installed on a standard Amazon tablet. Google Drive integrates cloud storage with a suite of Office-like apps, including a spreadsheet editor and a document creator, that allow Android phones and tablets to perform many enterprise tasks.
Amazon will offer a competing service on the Kindle Fire HDX, however, called OfficeSuite.
YouTube is another app that, while extremely popular, will be absent from the Kindle Fire HDX. Android's widgets will also be missing from the Kindle Fire HDX. While YouTube's mobile site will work with Amazon's tablets, Kindle Fire HDX owners will have to install a custom launcher to enjoy Android widgets.
While most of these issues can be addressed with the inevitable unlocking of the Kindle Fire HDX and installation of stock Android or other custom apps, there is no guarantee that doing so will not ruin the device, a process known as "bricking," or otherwise impair function -- like accessing Amazon Prime videos. Also, potential buyers should note that while custom ROMs probably will become available for the Kindle Fire HDX that offer access to the Google Play Store, doing so will either incur extra cost, or a great deal of free time.