Yesterday, Amazon launched it’s Amazon AppStore for Android phones. My original thoughts when this was rumored to be coming was “Big Wup”. I mean really, what is Amazon going to offer that Google itself isn’t going to offer? Well, “free stuff” is a hugely compelling thing that Amazon could offer to make we want to use their AppStore. They also have a paid version of Angry Birds available which, presumably, would be ad free. I don’t think I mentioned it on this blog but Angry Birds’ Ads almost break several levels since they cover part of the screen and make it hard to time certain attacks.
The problem I quickly discovered was that for some reason AT&T android Devices are not supported by the Amazon AppStore. My first instinct was “well, I guess I’ll have to Root my phone”. Rooting is basically the same as the iPhone term “Jailbreaking” which means to unlock the junk your carrier locked up. The term “rooting” is a reference to the Linux “root” user which is essentially the super user with access to everything.
It turns out that I don’t need to Root my phone after all. I’ve summarized how to get the Amazon AppStore working on an AT&T Android Phone. It is adapted from this thread in the Android Central forums though I’ll add a few details I’ve ironed out through actively doing the process. You will need to register for the Android Central forums to get the software needed for this procedure.
Firstly, download the Appstore APK file to your PC. You can get it here. You may have already downloaded this on your phone and gotten an error message about not being allowed to install it. if you want to hassle with digging this copy off your phone you can but it ultimately needs to be on your PC so you may as well just download it again. Also of note, an APK file is essentially an Android install file. It’s similar to an EXE in Windows or if you want a better analogy, it’s more like a Linux RPM Package.
Next download the Android Central Sideloading Wonder Machine. It’s a zip file. Open it, drop the folder inside named AC-SWM. Drag and drop it on your desktop for now. If you want later you can sort it off somewhere else but you’ll need to know where you put it if you want to make shortcuts to the launcher or run it from another location in the future. I’m not getting into the details of sorting Windows files here.
Third step here, this may already be done. Install the sync software for your phone. If you’re more technical like I am you probably tend to throw these disks in a drawer somewhere and disregard them as not necessary. If you really want to get technical you don’t need the software, you just need the driver from your phone which is probably on the disc. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about drivers etc, just install the software off the CD that came with your device. If you don’t have the CD, open Google.com, in the search box type <Device Name Here> drivers. Chances are the first result will be the manufacturer’s page where you can download the software. For example, since I didn’t have my disc with me I searched for ‘HTC inspire Drivers” and the first result was HTC’s website.
Now, this may vary on your phone slightly. You need to enable USB Debugging under Menu –> Settings –>Applications –> Development –> Enable USB debugging. I have not found any trouble in simply leaving this on with normal charging or USB Drive mode so I’d say just leave it on.
Now, using the USB cable for your phone, hook the phone to the computer.
For my Inspire, when I connect it, I have to chose which mode. This works in Sync mode. EDIT: Nevermind, it works in Drive Mode, just connect in Drive mode, get the .apk off and then move on to running the Sideloader. Also of note during this process, you may get some complaints from the native sync software about loss of connections. Just ignore this. Basically, the Sideloader is taking control of the pipe.
Now, go tot he folder we created on the desktop earlier, AC-SWM. There should be some files there including AndroidCentral-SWM.exe. Now we have to move the AppStore apk file to the same folder as the Sideloader. Unless you saved it elsewhere, it’s probably in your downloads folder. Hit Start, then either My Documents (XP) or select your Username (Vista, Win 7). Then go to the Downloads folder. Find the file in the downloads, it’s called Amazon_Appstore-release.apk. Drag and drop this from the Downloads window to the AC-SWM folder.
Next Double click AndroidCentral-SWM.exe. You’ll get the following Window:
Select “Choose a file”, then select the Amazon.apk file. Now select “Go”. You’ll see a DOS style text window show up. You’ll know it’s going to work if you get an ID code in the middle area of the box. You’ll need to press Enter a few times and the DOS window will close. The Amazon App Store should now appear in your list of Applications.
The slight bit of hassle now comes when you get a new App through the store so until it becomes natively supported, I recommend buying or getting most apps through the native store. As for paying for Apps, there are up and downsides on this. On one hand, this may not always work so you may lose access to the apps you’ve bought. On the other hand, you still own the apps and there are signs pointing to this becoming a legit outlet for Apps on AT&T so you should still be able to keep the stuff you buy.
Anyway, loading the Apps themselves have to be done essentially the same way using the Android Central Sideloading Wonder Machine. The key is how to get the apps themselves.
First, you go through the App store on your phone and purchase the app as you normally would. After it downloads you’ll get the message about how it can’t be installed for security reasons etc. Now, hook the Device up to your PC in Drive Mode and open it up in Explorer. Navigate to the folder Android –> data –> com.amazon.venezia –> cache. Inside should be your .apk file. If not you may need to redownload it. It will have a funny name, for example, the Angry Birds RIO Free App from the launch day has the file name, vnz20746.apk. Drag and drop this file from the Phone into the AC-SWM folder mentioned earlier. I’ve found that the .apk files must be in the same folder as the Sideloader Program.
Now all that’s left is to follow the same steps listed above starting below the graphic from when you loaded the AppStore. The difference of course is that you’ll select this new .apk file instead of the AppStore.apk file we used earlier. EDIT NOTE:
I’ve only ever seen one .APK file in this folder, I suspect that the AppStore only cache one download at a time. So you may have to download an app, load it, then download another app. You can buy more than one app since the store keeps track of everything you own.
UPDATE AGAIN: So I tested this out. After installing an app, the appstore removes the temporary .apk files. So download all you want at once. The real problem comes when you try to figure out which is which based on the cryptic file names. On this note as well, I’ve also tested out renaming the files. You may rename the files to something meaningful for archival/storage purposes. Even files with spaces will still work in the AC-SWM program though you do need to keep the .apk file extension.