The Amazon Kindle Fire is the first Android device to ship with the new Amazon Instant Video app. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can use it to watch thousands of TV shows and movies for $79 per year. You can also pay to rent or purchase movies on a case-by-case basis.
But it turns out the app is just a regular Android app… which means it can run on other Android devices. There are a few caveats.
First, it only seems to be optimized for 1024 x 600 pixel displays a the moment, which means that most Android phones and tablets could have some problems displaying content.
Second, you can install the app on any tablet, but it won’t stream video over 3G or if you’re using a rooted device.
Third, in order to login to your account you’ll need to either have an Amazon prime subscription or be willing to spend a few bucks to rent or purchase a video.
That’s because when you use the Instant Video app on the Kindle Fire you’re already logged into your account. But when you try to use the app on a different device the only way to login is to purchase a video — at which point the app will notice that you’re not logged in and ask you to enter your Amazon username and password. If you’re a Prime subscriber you can do that for no additional fee by clicking on an Amazon Prime video selection.
I tried installing the app on my HP TouchPad and it wouldn’t stream videos because the device is rooted. I got the same error message that appears when you try to stream Instant Video on a rooted Kindle Fire.
But the app works pretty well on the Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet. Like the Kindle Fire, it has a 1024 x 600 pixel display. I had no problem streaming a couple of TV episodes from the start of the show… but I got “force close” errors a few times when trying to resume a video I’d previously been watching.
I also wasn’t able to stream any of the videos I’d purchased. Prime videos worked well, but purchased videos… not so much.
If you don’t have an Amazon Kindle Fire to extract the Instant Video app from you can download the ATVAndroidClient.apk installer from the xda-developers forum.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon eventually released a version of this app for devices other than the Kindle Fire. Amazon makes money from your video purchases whether you’re a Kindle owner or not. But until then, it looks like you can run an unsupported version of the app on many non-Kindle phones and tablets.