[GUIDE] New Fire Phone with FireOS and Google Apps - A Start-to-Finish Walkthrough

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By munkymack, Member on 20th September 2015, 06:58 PM
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I just got a Fire Phone via the Ebay sale, and like many others, I wanted to set it up with Google Apps. I also wanted to keep the working camera and NFC, so I decided to stick with FireOS. Doing that took a lot of searching, and flipping through multiple threads. It can get a little confusing. So I've collected all the steps here to help others (and myself, in case I need to do this again in the future, when I inevitably break something while tinkering). I've written this from the perspective of someone who has purchased a brand new Fire Phone from a third-party seller.

PLEASE NOTE: Much of this is the work/discoveries of other forum members. I'll link out to the original posts whenever possible. Please thank those people accordingly!

1. When you first start up your phone, connect to WiFi, and let it go through the upgrade process to 4.6.4. Now is the time to register your phone with Amazon (by signing in with your Amazon account). You want that year of Prime, don't you?

2. SIM Unlock the phone (if you aren't using AT&T). It's easy!
a. Use a paperclip to pop out the SIM tray
b. Insert a non-AT&T nano-sized SIM card. (Mine came with an AT&T SIM in it. You can't use this card to SIM unlock)
c. A window should pop up, prompting you to enter the code that is on your box. Enter it.
d. Done!
3. Open Settings>Applications & Parental Controls>Prevent non-Amazon app installation. Turn App Installation to ON

4. Make sure ADB is set up on your computer. (this is an easy guide to follow if you don't already have it: http://lifehacker.com/the-easiest-wa...-to-1586992378 )

5. Download the following file to your desktop computer:
GSM Unlocked Firmware (this is a 1.2gb file) (http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...12&postcount=2). Rename this update.bin, and put it into the folder where ADB is installed.
Now we get our hands dirty:

6. If you are using Windows (I'm not), follow the directions that @Bingo Bronson posted here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...12&postcount=2. @DePingus also has an illustrated guide for ADB on Windows here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...1&postcount=14

6a. If you aren't using Windows, you can follow my steps (the same, just without all the Android SDK stuff, assuming you installed ADB in step #4)
a. Connect your phone to your PC & boot into recovery: When the phone is off, hold PWR + VOL. UP until the recovery screen appears
b. From the list, choose "Apply update from ADB"
c. In the command prompt, enter the following:
Code:
adb sideload path/to/update.bin
d. It should take a few minutes. When it's done, reboot your phone
NOTE: If for some reason this isn't working for you, @jack9955 has posted steps on how to downgrade via Safestrap here.

7. Open Settings>Device>Get Info About Your Fire Phone. Your current version will be listed under Software Version, and it should now be 4.6.3

At this point, you may need to repeat step 3. I didn't, but it's worth checking.

8. Open the Amazon app store (one last time) and download ES File Explorer.

9. In the Silk Browser, open up the following links and download the files:
KingRoot (http://forum.xda-developers.com/fire...4-6-3-t3173322)
Updated Google Play Store files: (http://forum.xda-developers.com/fire...-apks-t3098592)
10. Open ES File Explorer, navigate to Download, and install KingRoot. Follow the directions to achieve root.

11a. At this point, some people like to remove KingRoot (out of security concerns) and replace it with SuperSu. I haven't done that yet, but you can follow the directions from @najoor here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/fire...persu-t3105546

12. Open ES File Explorer, navigate to Download, and unzip play.zip. Be sure to install the apks contained in the play.zip folder in the proper order (Thanks to @escape75 for these files)
1) Google Account Manager 4.4.2 (940549)
2) Google Services Framework 4.4.2 (940549)
3) Google Play Services 7.8.99 (2134222-036) - Updated
4) Google Play Store 5.8.8 - Updated
13. After installing, I rebooted into recovery again, and wiped the cache partition. I don't know if you need to, but engaging in good housekeeping is never bad.

14. You should have a Play Store icon in your app drawer now. Click it to open, and holy crap!! It works. Plug in your google account details.

Now it's time to keep Amazon from wrecking all your hard work. Steps 15 or 15a will block OTA updates of the OS.

15. Go to Settings>Applications & Parental Controls>Manage Applications. Click Filter By and select All. Find each of the files listed below, click it, and then click the "Disable" button on the next screen. Repeat for the other three files. (thanks @Bingo Bronson)
Amazon Device Client
DCP Platform Contracts
System Update
System Update (yes, there are two different files named system update. Freeze/Disable both)
15a. If you'd rather, you can do like I did, and use Titanium Backup Pro to freeze the above files.

16. Don't like the Launcher? Neither do I. I followed these directions to change out my launcher: http://spinyourfire.com/fire-phone-t...hone-launcher/ I use Home Switch from the Play Store. It will allow you to set your new launcher.
If you decide to use a new launcher, here's some info (courtesy @Bingo Bronson) which may help:
1. Settings>Display>Show Status Bar allows you to turn on the Status Bar at the top of the screen. This will help some launchers display properly.
2. Miss your NavBar / want some way other than Amazon gestures to navigate your phone? Try installing Ultimate Dynamic NavBar or Pie Controls.
NOTE: The new launcher will disable Tilt Left/Right on your home screen. In Amazon apps, the gesture will still work.

17. To sync your contacts/calendars/etc, go to Settings>My Accounts>Manage Email Accounts and add your Google account info.
a. Select that account, check sync calendar and sync contacts.
b. Set Inbox Check Frequency to manual.
c. In Email Settings, set everything to off, then click email notification settings, and set all of those to off.
BEWARE: HERE BE DRAGONS

Hi. Are you new to phone hacking? Then you should probably stop reading here. Following any of the links or info could (pretty easily) lead to bricking your phone. I won't even mess with most of this stuff, I'm just providing links for intrepid explorers who know what they are getting into, and are willing to risk it. SERIOUSLY, TURN AROUND HERE!

Seriously, you did all that work, and now you want to risk breaking it? Well yeah, me too. So let's cover our asses.

Backing Up with SafeStrap

First, let's back up what you've done. @ggow (to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude) has gifted us with SafeStrap, which allows us to boot into a version of TWRP recovery. From there, you can install his CM11 or SlimKat Roms, or use the backup feature, which is what we are about to do.
1. Install Safestrap from here http://forum.xda-developers.com/fire...4-0-1-t3149888. In ggow's directions, it talks about 4.6.1, but I can confirm it works properly on 4.6.3.

2. Once you have booted into Safestrap, Click Backup and then back it up! (it took about ten minutes for me)

3. Of course, a backup won't do you any good if you don't have multiple redundancies. So plug your phone into your computer, open up a terminal/CMD prompt, and enter the following:
Code:
adb start-server
then
Code:
adb pull /sdcard/TWRP/ /path/to/your/backup/folder
after that runs for a while, you should see a message that says something along the lines of "12 files pulled. 0 files skipped"
Good! Now we are backed up, and we can start breaking stuff.

Turn on USB Debugging
1. Go to Settings>Device>Get info about your Fire

2. Tap "Model Number" seven or eight times, until the "Developer Options" button appears at the bottom of the list

3. Tap "Developer Options" and enable USB debugging
Installing Xposed Framework
Xposed Framework allows you to install different modules that can change the look, feel and operation of your phone. Xposed works best on Vanilla Android, but we can definitely put it to good use here. Lifehacker has a great overview on Xposed. I'll just give you the basics here.

What you'll need: Root
1. On your phone, visit http://repo.xposed.info/module/de.ro...osed.installer. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Show Older versions. You want the APK for version 2.6.1 (the most recent stable version)

2. After downloading, navigate to your Downloads folder and install the Xposed Apk.

3. Open Xposed and click Framework. It will show you that Xposed is currently inactive. Tap the install/update button.

4. Once installed, you must reboot your phone for Xposed to work.
Congrats! Now with Xposed, you can really start customizing your phone. Check the forums...there is tons to discover and lots of people who know far more than I about how to use it. Just remember that a lot of the cosmetic stuff might not work on a Fire Phone. The modules I use are: ACDisplay, Amplify (paid version), AppOppsXposed, GravityBox, Greenify (paid version), PowerNap.

Installing a custom Lock Screen

Many of us on Android are used to custom lock screens, and haven't been thrilled with the Amazon Lock Screen. Through some trial and error, I've discovered how to swap out the Amazon Lock Screen for my lock screen of choice, ACDisplay. I haven't tried this with other 3rd party lock screens. Try following (and contributing to) this lockscreen thread to see any developments on other lock screens.

What you need: Xposed, Root, ES File Explorer (or another file explorer with root access)
1. Install ACDisplay (I sideloaded the APK, but it seems to work from the Play Store)

2. Open ES File Explorer, tap the hamburger menu, scroll down to Tools, and turn on Root Explorer

3. find the installed apk (com.achep.acdisplay-1.apk) in /data/app

4. rename it LockScreen.apk and move it to /system/priv-app/

5. Reboot

6. Open up AC Display and grant it access to Accessibility Settings and Notifications

7. In ACDisplay>Settings>Lockscreen move the slider to On and make sure that "Enable when no notifications" is ticked

8. Open Xposed and activate the ACDisplay module.

9. Reboot

10. I don't know if you need to, but I went to Settings>Lock Screen> Turn on Notifications... and made sure that notifications were off.
The Xposed integration seems to be the key. Now, when I reboot my phone, I'll get the original Amazon Lock Screen once (sometimes) and then ACDisplay pops up from that point on. Apparently, if you want a pin/password on the lock screen, you can still use the security features of the OS lockscreen.

Launchers with Widgets
One of the problems with custom launchers is that widgets don't seem to work on the Fire Phone. But @hmoobguy and @DePingus have figured out how to beat that in this thread. Just like with the lock screen, you'll have to move some files.

What you need: Root, ES File Explorer (or another file explorer with root access)
1. Install your launcher from the Play Store.

1a. If you haven't already, visit the Play Store on your desktop, look at the page for the launcher you just installed, and take note of what comes after 'id=' in the URL. That's the file name you'll search for.

2. Open ES File Explorer, tap the hamburger menu, scroll down to Tools, and turn on Root Explorer

3. find the installed apk for your launcher of choice in /data/app by searching for what came after 'id=' in step 1a.

4. move it to /system/priv-app/

5. Reboot
Note: you can also use Titanium to convert your launcher of choice into a system app.

Other Stuff

@Bingo Bronson has a ridiculously extensive list of Fire OS apps that can be disabled/frozen or deleted. Use at your own risk: http://forum.xda-developers.com/fire...emove-t3132008

Hopefully this is helpful to others. I can add information as I go if new info (and new annoyances) come to light. Please let me know if there is anything I missed!
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21st September 2015, 06:49 PM |#2  
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Thanks man! That's a good list there!

I gathered much of the information you have posted there last night and I have it at 4.6.3 with Google Play and a custom launcher.

My next challenge is a single lock screen. I have yet to actually root it however.
Which seems it will be required to get any further with the lock screen deal based off what I've read thus far.

Cheers!

"curious what adds the extra slide lock, is it the adding of a different Launcher or Home Switch? Even when using the FirePhone launcher again it remains."
21st September 2015, 07:58 PM |#3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natet2003

"curious what adds the extra slide lock, is it the adding of a different Launcher or Home Switch? Even when using the FirePhone launcher again it remains."

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I'm messing with the lock screen myself, haven't quite got it figured out yet. I use AC Display, and have been trying to freeze various apps listed in the App List post (at the bottom of the walkthrough under "HERE BE DRAGONS"). I can shut off the Amazon lock screen, but for some reason, my lock screen only works every other time. If I let it sit for a while and then unlock it, I just get the woven graphite background and nothing else. I have to turn off the screen, turn it back on again, and then my lock screen will work. I'm assuming it has something to do with the system putting the app to sleep.
21st September 2015, 08:39 PM |#4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natet2003

My next challenge is a single lock screen. I have yet to actually root it however.
Which seems it will be required to get any further with the lock screen deal based off what I've read thus far.

This thread has info on changing the lockscreen.
http://forum.xda-developers.com/fire...t2982798/page5

You do need root. Install the new lockscreen (many people were using Next Lock Screen). Use a root file explorer to delete /system/priv-app/LockScreen.apk (make a backup first). Then move whatevernewlockscreen.apk from /data/app to /system/priv-app, rename it to LockScreen.apk and reboot.

I was having issues with the alarm clock and then I screwed up all the lockscreens. I gave up trying to fix my mess and just took the opportunity to install 4.6.3. That fixed all my issues and put me back to the stock crappy lockscreen, which I'm still running.
21st September 2015, 08:54 PM |#5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by munkymack

I'm not quite sure what you mean here. I'm messing with the lock screen myself, haven't quite got it figured out yet. I use AC Display, and have been trying to freeze various apps listed in the App List post (at the bottom of the walkthrough under "HERE BE DRAGONS"). I can shut off the Amazon lock screen, but for some reason, my lock screen only works every other time. If I let it sit for a while and then unlock it, I just get the woven graphite background and nothing else. I have to turn off the screen, turn it back on again, and then my lock screen will work. I'm assuming it has something to do with the system putting the app to sleep.

I think I found what it was. I had "C Launcher" installed. It does an iPhone styled sliding lock screen that even when I swapped to another Launcher the lock screen kept activating. (So I had two screens to bypass) When I had experimented with GO Locker it added yet another screen to those so 3 screens!
So once I've removed CLauncher and GO Locker I've not just have a single screen, which is FireOS default lock screen.
22nd September 2015, 08:29 PM |#6  
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Great instructions, well consolidated--thanks!!
Questions: 1. What's the reason you went through all the updates, all the way to 4.6.4 and then downgraded to 4.6.3. Could you just not have installed 4.6.3 from the beginning? 2. Also, why version 4.6.3? Is that the version on which google play works the best?--the reason I ask is because I too have read so many posts on this site and I have come to perceive that Google play still does not work perfectly on any of the versions!. Hopefully my perception is wrong and I can proceed with your consolidated instructions. Can you please post updates as the days go by on how its all working. Thanks.
22nd September 2015, 08:45 PM |#7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannyol

Questions: 1. What's the reason you went through all the updates, all the way to 4.6.4 and then downgraded to 4.6.3. Could you just not have installed 4.6.3 from the beginning? 2. Also, why version 4.6.3? Is that the version on which google play works the best?--the reason I ask is because I too have read so many posts on this site and I have come to perceive that Google play still does not work perfectly on any of the versions!

I went to 4.6.4 simply because my phone automatically updated from 3.5.0>4.6.1>4.6.4 when I connected it to wifi, and the directions I'd found showed how to downgrade from 4.6.4 (which is AT&T specific) to 4.6.3 (gsm unlocked).

The reason I chose to downgrade is because Play store doesn't work on 4.6.4...it keeps breaking. On 4.6.3, that's not the case (so far); Play Store (and even more important, Play Services, which is necessary for most Google apps) is working exactly like it should be. Might it break in the future? Yeah, probably. But if / when it does, I'll try and update the post (assuming that a fix gets found).
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22nd September 2015, 10:52 PM |#8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DePingus

This thread has info on changing the lockscreen.
http://forum.xda-developers.com/fire...t2982798/page5

You do need root. Install the new lockscreen (many people were using Next Lock Screen). Use a root file explorer to delete /system/priv-app/LockScreen.apk (make a backup first). Then move whatevernewlockscreen.apk from /data/app to /system/priv-app, rename it to LockScreen.apk and reboot.

Just a heads up, DePingus and I have been discussing this on the linked thread, and the above instructions DO NOT work. LockScreen.apk does not exist in /system/priv-app/ on 4.6.3. At this point in time, there is not a way to completely replace the Amazon lock screen with a custom lock screen.
24th September 2015, 02:32 AM |#9  
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This is a good guide.

Just FYI, you don't have to enable USB debugging to root with KingRoot. And, more importantly, you don't have to be rooted or enable USB debugging to install 4.6.3, Google Play Services, or alternate launchers. Instead of adb push, you can just copy the apks over using your favorite method (USB, OneDrive, direct download) and then run to install. Come to think of it, you probably should move rooting and USB debugging into the "here be dragons" section.
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24th September 2015, 07:57 PM |#10  
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Is it safe to update the play store when it asks?
Bingo Bronson
24th September 2015, 08:58 PM |#11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrPaulAR

Is it safe to update the play store when it asks?

Yes, as far as we know (for v. 4.6.3) Play Store can be updated and will still work, same with Play services.
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