How to Use Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, and Other Google Apps on Amazon’s Fire Tablet

By Chris Hoffman on November 7th, 2015

Amazon’s Appstore has quite a few big-name apps, including Microsoft’s. But Google hasn’t put its own apps in the Amazon Appstore. It’s still possible to access Google’s services in other ways — or even use Google’s actual Android apps on your Fire Tablet.

Fire OS is based on Google’s Android — it’s a “forked” version of Android that’s under Amazon’s control instead of Google’s — and Google doesn’t like or want to encourage that. The lack of Google’s apps is one of the most noticeable issues with Amazon’s app store.

Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts

Amazon’s Fire Tablet advertises compatibility with Gmail. You won’t find the Gmail app available in Amazon’s Appstore, but you can still access your email account on the tablet.

To do so, open the “Email” app icon on your home screen. It’ll open to the “Add Account” screen by default — enter your email address and tap Next. (If you’ve already added an account, tap the menu button at the top-left corner of the Email app and tap “Add Account” to add a new one.)

You’ll be prompted to sign in and give Amazon access to your Gmail account, your Google Calendar calendars, and your contacts.

The included “Email” app will now allow you to access your Gmail email account, the “Calendar” app will show your Google Calendars, and the “Contacts” app will list the contacts you have associated with your Google account.

Web Apps From the Amazon Appstore

Amazon’s Appstore does contain some Google apps — kind of. Open the Amazon “Appstore” app and search for “Gmail,” “YouTube,” “Google Maps,” “Google Calendar,” and other Google services. You’ll see installable “bookmarks” that “provide a direct link to a mobile optimized website.” These are actually just the web versions of Google’s apps.

While these apps aren’t quite as slick as Google’s typical Android apps, they do work fairly well for watching a few YouTube videos or poking around on Google Maps. Install the apps and these web apps will get their own icons on your home screen. This is the big advantage over simply loading these websites in the Silk web browser.

The Appstore may also have third-party, unofficial apps for accessing services like YouTube and other Google’s services. As with the third-party apps available for Windows 10, where Google also doesn’t provide apps, these apps will be a mixed bag and some will work better than others. Be careful before spending  any money on an app that may or may not work well.

Normal Web Apps

You could also open the “Silk Browser” app included with your Fire tablet, head to Google.com, and use the web-based versions of these services.

To make it easier in the future, you can tap the bookmark icon in the address bar and bookmark Google’s different services for quick access in the future. Just open the Silk Browser app, tap “Bookmarks,” and tap the website you want to go to. The Silk Browser can’t add home screen icons for websites, so you’ll have to go to the browser first.

Change the Silk Browser’s Search Engine to Google

By default, the Silk Browser app uses Microsoft’s Bing search engine to search the web. You can make it use Google instead.

To do so, tap the menu button at the top-left corner of the Silk Browser, tap “Settings”, tap “Search engine”, and select “Google”. You could also choose Yahoo, if you like. These are the only three available options.

Get the Google Play Store and Google’s Apps on Your Fire Tablet

Amazon’s Fire OS allows you to “sideload” apps from outside the Amazon Appstore. This means it’s possible to install Google’s apps. However, many of these apps depend on Google Play Services and won’t work properly without it.

Rather than attempting to install Google’s apps one-by-one, you can install the entire Google Play Store and supporting packages like Google Play Services. After you do, you can open the Play Store on your Fire Tablet and install Android apps from there. You’ll have the choice of using Amazon’s Appstore of Google’s Play Store. This gives you access to every Android app in the Play Store, including Google’s own Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Hangouts, and every other app available in the Play Store.

This isn’t officially supported by Amazon — or by Google — but it’s possible to install the Google Play Store on your Fire tablet.


While Google hasn’t made its own apps available for Fire OS yet, you can still have a great experience with Google’s services on a Fire Tablet. It’s possible to simply access your Gmail and watch videos on YouTube without hacking around, and you’ll have a fine experience.

If you want more of Google’s apps — or just other Android apps — you may want to install the Google Play Store. After you do, you should have the same experience with Google’s apps that you would a typical Android tablet.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 11/7/15
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