Now that you have an Amazon Kindle Fire HD, you’re ready to load it up with apps. The trick is finding the apps in the Amazon Appstore that are "optimized" for the Kindle Fire HD’s display. That list is short and full of mostly games, but it's growing as more apps embrace the world of high-pixel density tablets. The best part: Most of these apps are free, though some require you to tough out the ads or sign up for a service.
Kindles are for reading, right? These apps will enhance your reading experience both by giving you more things to read and more ways to keep track of the things you like to read.
OverDrive Media Console
You can supplement the books in your Kindle library with books from your local library, or one of many libraries across the country that will lend to nonresidents, with the OverDrive Media Console (free). This app lets you browse and check out eBooks and MP3 audiobooks which can be read or played back inside the app. You can also share what you're currently reading with Facebook friends or through Goodreads. The text renders cleanly and is easy to read on the HD screen.
If you're drowning in books that you want to read and want a good way to keep track of them, Goodreads (free) can help out. It's also a great way to see what your friends are reading and get ideas about what you might want to read next. Goodreads renders well on the HD screen with clear, easy to read text.
Formerly known as Read It Later, Pocket (free) is a great way to take the web with you when you don't have an Internet connection. When you add the extension to your favorite desktop browser, you can add articles to your Pocket, which downloads them for offline viewing to your devices. The offline version of the article is stripped of extraneous ads and renders both the text and images well on the HD screen.
We all love to eat. With these apps, your Kindle Fire HD can help you decide what to eat and tell you how to cook it.
If you don't know what you want to eat, the Allrecipes.com Dinner Spinner (ad- supported, free) can help you figure it out. It works with the accelerometer on the Fire to spin through categories of dishes, main ingredients, and time it takes to make the meal slot machine style. Once you have a combination of those three things, Dinner Spinner will list dishes with recipes that fit. While the images may not come out in full HD, the text renders cleanly and should be easy to read from your kitchen counter.
20 Minute Meals—Jamie Oliver
If you need a little more guidance on how to get things done, Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals will give you more in depth recipes, complete with video tutorials showing you how to make things. The app will also put together a shopping list so you can get everything you need in one trip. While the videos aren't full HD, the text and UI elements render well on the HD screen and overall, the app looks really good.
The Kindle Fire HD is a great entertainment tablet out of the box, just using the included apps. You can get even more entertainment out of it with these apps.
Tablets are touted as being a complementary screen to the movie or show you're watching on TV. The IMDB app (free) fills that role by giving you more information about the show you're watching in addition to the characters in it. Text is clear and crisp and the video previews play beautifully.
This one is a mixed bag on the Kindle Fire HD. If you already have a subscription, you may as well download the app. However, if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, I would start there when you want to watch something. When comparing the same show on both Netflix and Amazon Instant Streaming, the quality was significantly better through Amazon's service. I supposed this is to be expected on a device made by Amazon. There's nothing particularly wrong with the app itself—text and images render well—it’s just that the video quality was not up to par, which is especially disappointing on a high-definition screen.
If you're looking for a soundtrack to your reading, or just want some tunes playing in general, the Pandora app (ad-supported, free) is a good place to start. The app itself looks great on the HD screen, although album covers may look fuzzy. Unfortunately it comes with some pretty big ads. The sound quality is good, though, and it will play in the background while you do other things.
There's so much more to read than just books. These news readers will help you keep up with the latest events when you're not engrossed in your current novel.
The official Google Reader app for Android is not available for the Kindle Fire HD, so you'll need something else. JustReader (ad-supported, free) downloads articles from your Google feed and makes them available for reading offline. The app performs well on the Fire HD; images and text are sharp and clear and swiping between articles is smooth.
Another visually pleasing way to enjoy updates to your favorite websites on the Kindle Fire HD screen is the Pulse (free) news reader. Of the news apps I tested, this one looked the best on the high-resolution display, with clear text and sharp graphics.
The Kindle Fire HD is about more than just fun and games. You can get some work done too. These productivity apps look good while helping you get stuff done.
What would an app roundup be without Evernote (free)? It's always a favorite for its ability to organize pretty much any information you throw at it. The app looks great on the HD screen, with text, images, and UI elements all rendering clearly and crisply.
It's good to know what's going on in your life and when. The Kindle Fire HD comes with a calendar app that will sync with Google calendars, but it will only sync with your main calendar. If you have secondary calendars, or subscribe to other calendars, you'll need another app. Calengoo ($5.99) is just that app. It will display all of your calendars in color coordinating, offline available, goodness.
Calculator Plus Free
It's just a calculator, but the Kindle Fire HD didn't come with one, and it’s a useful thing to keep handy on a tablet. Calculator Plus Free looks beautiful, and it does just what a calculator needs to do. The ads that make it free are small and unobtrusive at the top.
While the Kindle Fire HD's main job is to preset you with information and entertainment, there are also several great apps to chat with friends in between chapters.
Skype for Kindle Fire HD
The Kindle Fire HD does have a front-facing webcam, so make use of it with Skype (free). The caller on the other end said the video quality was better than usual although on my end, the video was more pixelated. Audio was great. The interface looks clean and crisp on the HD screen.
If text chatting is your thing, the imo messanger (free) will connect to just about any chat protocol you could want. You can chat with friends through MSN, Skype, Yahoo!, Google Talk, Facebook, AIM/ICQ, Jabber, Vkontakte, Myspace, Hyves, and Steam. The graphics look great, and text is clear.
Back to things you can read, here are some top apps to keep around for reference. You never know when you might need to know just who invented the doorbell and when.
The Free Dictionary by Farlex
The Free Dictionary by Farlex (ad-supported, free) is every dictionary you could ever need and some you never knew you wanted. It combines standard, medical, financial, and legal dictionaries with a thesaurus and an encyclopedia. It will even translate and search other languages. The home screen for this app is full of all kinds of daily factoids including a word of the day, the weather report, and a game of hangman. The pictures are not as clear as they could be on the HD screen, but the text is crisp and easy to read.
The ultimate Internet source for mostly well-referenced facts is available for your Kindle through its official app (free). Text is beautiful, and most images are clear depending on the source image. The only thing I miss is the random page button, which this app doesn't seem to have.
Bible by YouVersion
This particular Bible app (free) provides access to dozens of translations, some of which are available offline. There are also reading plans and a place to take notes. Graphics and text are clear and crisp on the Kindle Fire HD’s display.
Who couldn't use a diversion every now and again? If you get tired of reading and want to try something more interactive, these games look great on the HD screen.
For a more action packed game, Temple Run (free) also has the graphics to go along with the Kindle Fire HD’s display. The Fire is more than powerful enough to render the game smoothly with no skips, and the graphics are clear. Your runner responds quickly to light swipes and tips of the tablet.
Mahjong Deluxe HD
For those who prefer a game you can take your time with, Mahjong Deluxe HD (ad supported, free) looks great on the Kindle Fire HD’s screen. Soothing music plays in the background while you match beautifully rendered tiles. You can shake to reshuffle remaining tiles. The only things that don't look as good on the high-definition display are the ads and a few interface buttons that look stretched.
This story, "20 Favorite apps for Kindle Fire HD" was originally published by TechHive.