Missing from the Kindle Fire: Your Photos

The Kindle Fire gives you a lot for under $200, but compared to the iPad, it is missing a lot of things.  Some of those things, like the smaller screen, less storage, lack of GPS, slower GPU, lack of volume buttons, are inevitable tradeoffs for a device that costs less than half the price of an iPad, but there is something else, something more personal that the Kindle Fire is missing: Your Photos.

On the iPad, its clear that Apple knows you value your photos. There is an option to jump directly to your photo gallery from the lock-screen.  Photos on your computer can be automatically synced to your iPad, and new photos taken with an iPhone flow directly to your iPad too via the iCloud Photostream.  You can even get a camera connection kit that lets you copy photos to your iPad directly from a digital camera over usb, or from a memory card.  Once your photos are on your iPad, browsing them is smooth and easy.  You can quickly scroll through thumbnails from thousands of photos, or you can browse photos grouped by time, location and if you loaded the photos from  a Mac and iPhoto, by the faces of people in the photos.

Amazon, on the other hand, doesn’t make it easy to get photos onto the Fire.  You can drag them over from your computer, but you’ll need the right USB cable, which isn’t included with the device. You’ll have to do the same thing every time you want to add more photos.  Once photos are on the Fire, it sounds like the experience of actually using them is anything but silky smooth.

It gets worse too, Amazon’s Cloud Drive service can store photos, but it requires you to upload the photos with a web browser, a tedious task for more than a select group of photos. Most incredibly though, there is no easy way to access photos stored on Cloud Drive from your Kindle Fire.  It doesn’t appear to integrate with the built in Gallery application at all.

This seems like a tremendous opportunity for Dropbox, which makes it ridiculously easy to get access to photos and other files from multiple devices.  Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t seem to make Dropbox available in the Kindle Fire App store, so you’ll have to “sideload” it, but it is still (relatively) easy to do.

  1. Sign-up for a free Dropbox account with 2GB of storage, if you don’t already have one.  Use this link and we’ll both get an extra 250MB of free storage, while you are at it, download and install the dropbox client on your Mac or PC.
  2. On your Kindle, visit the download page for the Dropbox Android App and tap the download link.
  3. While you are waiting for the download, turn on the ability to install applications that you didn’t find in the official Kindle Fire app store.
  4. From the Kindle Fire home screen, tap the gear icon in the upper right corner to call up the settings panel.
  5. Click the “More” button on the right hand side of the settings panel
  6. Scroll-down and tap “Device”
  7. Switch “Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources”  from “OFF” to “ON.”
  8. Return to the browser to check on your download.
  9. Look for the notification in the top-left corner that the download is complete.  Tap the notification and find the Dropbox.apk file in the list.  Tap the file.
  10. You follow the prompts to install the application.
  11. Launch the Dropbox application and log in.
  12. Any files you put in your Dropbox on your Mac or PC will be automatically uploaded to the cloud, and available through the Dropbox app on your Kindle Fire.

For more detailed instructions…

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