As the Apple iPad 2 continues to maintain its enormous popularity, two of this season’s hottest tablets, the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet are giving the iPad 2 a run for its money. Both the Nook and the Fire run customized versions of Android which only allow a limited number of apps to run. Removing this restriction involves gaining “root” access to operating system or “rooting.” Rooting is not sanctioned by Amazon or Barnes & Noble but as far as we know it’s not illegal either. You just have to be aware of the fact that you root at your own risk. It does appear that Barnes & Noble may be a little friendlier to rooters and their higher capacity tablet may be a better choice for rooting. In any case here’s what you need to know about why to root and how to root one of these new tablets.
Access to Google Android Market
Without access to the Google Android Market you are limited to either the Amazon Appstore or the Barnes and Noble “Nook for Android” market. Amazon has the greater number of Android apps for its Kindle Fire but neither has nearly the number of apps as Google’s market which you can access on rooted Android devices like these tablets.
Google Maps and Google Apps
One of the main reasons to root your Nook or Fire is to get access to all the great free Google apps like Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google+, Google Reader, Google Music, and more. We don’t know which ones work correctly but we’ve read that many of them work just fine. Of course both of these tablets lack things like GPS and gyroscopes so location-based apps, games and other apps that rely on those sensors may not work. Here are some tips on how to install Google apps on the Fire.
More Reasons to Root
Not only can you load up a suite of Google apps on a rooted Kindle or Nook you can replace the stock soft keyboard with a different one like Swiftkey or Swype, replace the default carousel launcher with another launcher like “go launcher,” load new widgets, play lots of different games and much more.
More Storage on the Nook Could Be an Advantage for Rooting Despite the fact that the Fire is $50 cheaper, the Nook Tablet has twice as much Flash RAM and an SD card slot to boot. That extra storage may not be a big advantage on a stock tablet but when you start adding apps and possibly upgrade the OS to Ice Cream Sandwich (when it becomes available soon) that extra memory may make a substantial difference.
How to Root Your Tablet Rooting your Nook or Fire does not come without tradeoffs. You risk creating an unstable platform that may require you to reload apps when you incorporate updates from Amazon or B & N. Amazon is apparently delivering updates automatically over Wi-Fi that may undo the rooting modification. It is also looking like Barnes & Noble is taking a “friendlier” position about rooting. In any case, we understand the whole rooting process is quite straight forward requiring a minimal amount of technical expertise and less than an hour’s time. If you know what you’re doing one of these tablets can be rooted in mere minutes.
Instructions on how to root a Nook can be found here while instructions for the Fire are over here or here or here or you can watch these videos:
How to Root a Kindle Fire:
How to Root a Nook Tablet:
No Amazon Streaming With Rooted Fire As we go to press it appears that Amazon is making life difficult for rooted Kindle Fires. Not only does the recent automatic update appear to un-root a Fire but we read that video streaming doesn’t work after rooting. It looks to us like a cat and mouse game is underway between Amazon and the rooters
Can You Un-Root a Fire or Nook? There are slightly different opinions on this topic however, in general, most agree that you can get either device back to, or close to, factory settings. The Fire appears to get reset when a software upgrade gets automatically downloaded or you can watch this video to see how:
Un-Rooting a Nook is Cinch Un-rooting the Nook Tablet is even easier; you just download a script for Windows and run it on the Nook in USB debugging mode.
Which Tablet is Best for You? In case you’re trying to decide which tablet to buy, you might want to check out this article that compares the Kindle Fire against the Nook Tablet and iPad 2.