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Build Apps for Amazon Mobile Devices with AWS

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My colleagues launched the new Fire phone last week and the reception from Amazon customers and the tech industry has been incredible. As a long-time user of an Android-powered phone I am looking forward to receiving a Fire phone of my very own sometime soon.

Although I have yet to build an actual mobile app of my own, I am thrilled by the possibilities offered by the Fire phone. With features like Dynamic Perspective, Firefly technology, and an advanced camera system (my iPhone-toting wife is jealous), coupled with a fast, quad-core processor and exceptional audio, there is plenty of room for innovation and creativity.

If you, unlike me, have the talent and the skills to build mobile apps, I believe that you will find the Amazon lineup of devices, services, and developer tools to be of great interest. In addition to all of the amazing stuff that you can find and access directly from the device, there’s an equally amazing set of developer frameworks, app services, and web services. I’m writing this post to make sure that you have a full and complete understanding of the opportunity that’s in front of you!

Let’s start by taking a look at the range of devices in the Amazon ecosystem. As you read this and start thinking about apps to build, remember that you can build an app, submit it to one store, and make it available to the owners of tablets, phones, and televisions. The apps that you build and submit are stored in the AWS cloud, where they are easily accessible and can be downloaded at any time.

First up, your app can run on Kindle Fire tablets. The HD and HDX tablets are available in 7″ and 8.9″ models and feature high-quality displays and fast processors.

Second, your app can run on the new Fire TV. This streaming media player connects to your HDTV and supports 1080p video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. It runs many free and paid apps, with more coming all the time. If you are interested in building apps for the Fire TV, start here (but please, finish reading this post first)!

Third, your app can run on the Fire phone. As I mentioned earlier, this feature-rich phone is jam-packed with awesome features. If you are ready to start building apps for it, you should start here.

Finally, apps that you upload to the Amazon Appstore can run on hundreds of Android phones, tablets, and so forth. Start with our Amazon Apps & Games Developer Portal. Once your app is ready to distribute, check out Appstore Developer Select program and learn how to promote your application through the Amazon Mobile Ad Network.

Developer Frameworks & App Services
At this point it should be clear that the Amazon Appstore offers a strong, diverse market for your Android apps. Let’s take a look at some of the developer frameworks and app services that we make available to you so that you can build cool and powerful applications. Before we dig in, I should note that all of these services run on highly scalable Amazon Web Services such as Amazon EC2 (virtual servers on demand), Amazon RDS (relational databases in the cloud), and Amazon Redshift to name a few.

Here are some of the most popular and relevant services for mobile app and game developers:

  • Monetization – The In-App Purchasing, Mobile Ads, and Mobile Associates frameworks will help you to convert users and usage into revenue. You can sell virtual goods within your games, participate in our ad network, and earn commissions from the sale of physical goods, all from within your app.
  • Testing – History has shown that the feature set of many of the most popular and successful apps was driven by analytics and honed by A/B testing. Fortunately, we have the Mobile Analytics and A/B Testing services ready for you.
  • Game Services – If you are building a game, don’t waste time reinventing the wheel. Use Amazon GameCircle to implement achievements and scoreboards, and focus on your artwork and your game mechanics instead. Use GameCircle’s WhisperSync feature to synchronize data between devices and across platforms, either online or offline.
  • Device Messaging – Use Amazon Device Messaging (ADM) to send push notifications from the cloud to the Kindle Fire devices that run your app.
  • Device Management – Amazon Mobile Device Management will help out with network configuration, device security, app management, device feature control, and device inventory.
  • Maps – Build a location-sensitive app and display location data using the Amazon Maps API.
  • Authenticate – Connect with millions of Amazon customers and personalize their app experience by using Login with Amazon.
  • Promotion – Use Amazon Developer Select and the Promotions Console to promote your app, while also taking advantage of the Free App of the Day opportunity.
  • HTML5 – Build a mobile web site using HTML 5 and the Amazon Mobile App SDK, then submit it as an app.

All of these services are available to you at no charge!

Last But Not Least
Finally, I would like to make one final mention of the broad range of Amazon Web Services that you can use to implement a robust and scalable backend for your mobile app. As I mentioned earlier, EC2 gives you access to pay-as-you-go servers running Linux or Windows Server. You can use Auto Scaling to bring additional servers online at peak times and to shut them down afterward.

If your app needs to store large amounts of data in the cloud, you have many options. Amazon S3 can store any amount of unstructured data. You can host a MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, or SQL Server database using the Relational Database Service, and forget about wasting time on administrative chores like patching, backups, monitoring, failover, and scaling. DynamoDB is the high-performance key-value store of choice for mobile applications, with easy scaling up to hundreds of thousands of reads and writes per second.

You can access the AWS services described above (and many more) through the AWS SDK for Android.

Already Have an App?
Submitting your app to the Amazon Appstore is easy; 75% of the Android apps and games we’ve tested required no changes before going live. If you are interested in submitting your app, test it now and get feedback in seconds.

Time to Build
I hope that this whirlwind tour of the opportunities that are open to you as a mobile app developer has given you some ideas. You can get started by registering for a free AWS account and reading our Android SDK Tutorials.


Modified 1/25/2021 – In an effort to ensure a great experience, expired links in this post have been updated or removed from the original post.
Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr is Chief Evangelist for AWS. He started this blog in 2004 and has been writing posts just about non-stop ever since.