Amazon Instant Video on Android is a fucking joke. It is worthless in so many ways. Amazon wants to crow about how they are going to do amazing things for video quality like stream their exclusive shows in high dynamic range, but they can’t even give a fully functional app to a huge segment of the market: Android users.

Amazon’s Fire tablets and phones run a modified version of Android with a custom interface and all of the Google stuff stripped out. On any Amazon tablet with HD or HDX in the name, you get an Amazon Instant Video app very much like how one would expect such a thing to act: you can use the app to browse for content, and watch it in full HD quality.

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But if you have a regular, not-Amazon Android device, Amazon is fucking you over.

Installation

You can’t install Amazon Instant Video through the Google Play Store, even though Amazon puts all their other apps there. You can only install Amazon Instant Video through the Amazon Appstore. Assuming your particular device didn’t come with the Amazon Appstore pre-installed, here’s the process for installing Amazon Instant Video:

  1. Open your device’s security settings and check the box to allow installing apps from unknown sources (i.e. outside the Google Play Store).
  2. Go to the Amazon Appstore Getting Started page and download the .apk file for Amazon Appstore.
  3. Install the Amazon Appstore.
  4. Using the Amazon Appstore, search for Amazon Instant Video and install it.
  5. Go back to your security settings and un-check the box for allowing apps from unknown sources. This breaks automatic updates of Amazon Appstore apps but at least it doesn’t leave you as vulnerable to malware.

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Fucking hell.

Choosing Content

Ok, so the app’s installed, let’s pick something to watch! But the Amazon Instant Video app doesn’t have an interface for browsing content.

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On a phone, when you open the Amazon Instant Video app, it takes you to the Instant Video section of the main Amazon app. Why this couldn’t be within the Instant Video app, I dunno, but at least it works for the most part.

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On a tablet, you have no such luck. There’s no Instant Video section in the Amazon app for tablets. When you open the app it opens the desktop version of the Amazon Instant Video website in Chrome. You hit a ‘watch now’ link which opens the video in the Instant Video app.

Video Quality

On every Android device I’ve tried to use this stupid app, video looks like shit. That’s because Amazon Instant Video on Android only supports SD video. It does not look good. Click to expand the screenshot below, and you’ll see all the glorious pixelization and lack of detail that you’d expect from an SD video stream.

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Come on Amazon, the app we Android users want ALREADY EXISTS. Quit this bullshit game of keep-away and put it in the Google Play Store already. You’re never going to convince me to buy a Fire tablet this way.