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Microsoft is helping Amazon make its dirt-cheap Fire tablets less dumb

By Nadeem Sarwar April 27, 2021, 8:15 pm
fire JD Amazon Microsoft

Amazon introduced an updated lineup of tablets earlier today – including the Fire HD 10 and its Plus variant. The new tablets are claimed to be slimmer, lighter, faster, brighter, and are still pretty affordable. However, what truly holds them back is the limited app ecosystem because they lack access to Google Play – and with it, access to a whole bunch of productivity apps that can add more appeal to their value. That is about to change with the arrival of Microsoft’s unified Office and OneNote apps on the Fire tablets.

With Office, OneNote, and Outlook app support, the Fire tablets can get some 'real' work done

To recall, the Fire lineup of tablets by Amazon runs a forked version of Android called Fire OS that lacks access to Google Play, something that makes their software extremely constrained – especially considering that the fact Amazon’s own app repository has a very small selection of apps. Yes, there is an unofficial workaround to install Google Play on the Fire tablets, but the target audience is not universally tech-savvy enough to pull it off.

Fire tablets amazon microsoft dumb

However, with the arrival of Office and OneNote apps, one can actually consider using these dirt-cheap tablets for more than just watching videos, surfing the internet, reading, and doom-scrolling social media. While OneNote is good for taking apps that are accessible on other devices too via cloud sync, the biggest productivity upgrade for Amazon’s Fire tablets comes in the form of Microsoft’s Office app.

The hardware and software requirements of Microsoft's apps are quite low, which is a huge plus

The latter combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in a single app, complete with cloud sync support. Aside from the usual job of creating new documents (as well as editing and sharing them), the Office app comes with a handful of other useful features such as the ability to scan pictures and adding them to documents, turning pictures of tables into spreadsheets, ability to sign PDFs with your finger on the touch-sensitive screen, etc.

amazon fire hd10 tablet title

And to go with the whole productivity aspect of using the Office app on its Fire tablets, Amazon has also launched productivity bundles that include a magnetically detachable keyboard case made by Fintie, and a 12-month subscription to Microsoft 365 service that offers access to Office apps and 1TB of cloud storage. And the best part is that the bundle is still relatively affordable at $219.99. Another advantage here is that the Office app can run on Fire tablets with as little as 1GB of RAM and Android 8 (or a later version) handling things on the software.

The new Fire HD 10 tablets also get a keyboard case to make the best out of these Microsoft apps

Plus, the app download size is less than 90MB, which is another hurdle taken care of. So, unless you have a really, really old Fire tablet, you can download and run the Office and OneNote apps on the device. The Outlook and OneDrive apps have already been available on the Amazon app store for a while, adding more to the whole ‘productivity on Fire tablets’ discussion here.

amazon fire tablet microsoft

Of course, your mileage will vary depending on the tablet’s innards and the kind of files you’re handling, but for the most part, at least the new Fire HD 10 and its Plus model – both of which come equipped with an octa-core processor and at least 3 gigs of RAM – will handle your workload with ease. The Amazon Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 10 Plus are now up for pre-order from Amazon, and will start shipping next month.

Pre-order Fire HD 10 tablet at Amazon

Pre-order Fire HD 10 Plus tablet at Amazon


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