In regards to the educational setting, I want to break the apps into three distinct categories: 1) Apps for Instructional Use, 2) Apps for Administrators, and 3) Apps for IT Technicians. Add in the personal apps that I think ANYONE could use, and there are a total of four categories I would place these apps in. Here they are, in order from most favorite to least favorite (I started to do the list in descending order as I thought it would build suspense, but I quickly realized that there were some lower rated apps that were extensions of more favorite apps, and it made more sense to go in this direction).
By the way, some of the apps below require "sideloading." That is, you won't find them in the Amazon App store, and you'll have to search through the web and find the installer files (with the extension .apk) before you'll be able to use them.
USERS: Administrators and Technicians
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/NitroDesk-Inc-Exchange-By-TouchDown/dp/B004SKASNW/ref=sr_1_1?s=mobile-apps&ie=UTF8&qid=1330376514&sr=1-1
WHAT IT IS: Exchange by Touchdown is the only app in the Amazon App store I could find that has full support for a Microsoft Exchange environment. If you want to keep tabs on your Exchange email, including Contacts, Calendars, Tasks, and Notes, this piece of software is essential. In fact, if you're looking to purchase a Kindle Fire for work-related purposes as a public school teacher in the state of Kentucky, then factor the $19.95 for this product into the purchase price...because you're going to want it.
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/Evernote-Corp/dp/B004LOMB2Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=mobile-apps&ie=UTF8&qid=1330614417&sr=1-1
WHAT IT IS: Evernote is a note taking application. It's not unique--there are lots of other note taking apps in the Amazon app store. What makes Evernote stand out, though, is 1) its feature set AND 2) it's omnipresence. First, it's feature set: Evernote "notes" include typed text, of course, but the Kindle Fire app includes some really advanced formatting features, too, such as the ability to bullet and number text, and boldface, italicize, and underline text. In fact, if you're too cheap to purchase on office suite app (See #6 below), you can user Evernote as a basic word processor.
But that's not all Evernote can do. In addition to typing information into an Evernote app, you can also add attachments to the note, including sound files and pictures (Alas, since the Kindle Fire doesn't have a camera nor a microphone, so you can't record audio or take pictures on the fly, though the app allows for that if Amazon ever includes that in Kindle Fire 2.0).
And then, as I mentioned, there's the omnipresence of Evernote. Every major platform (Windows, Apple OS, Android, iOS) has an Evernote application or software install. There's even an online version of Evernote if you sit down at a computer or tablet that doesn't have Evernote installed. And every note you take--whether online or on your Kindle Fire or on your computer--is saved in the cloud and synced onto every one of your Evernote installs. So you can write a note in a meeting on your Kindle Fire and it will be waiting for you on your desktop Evernote software when you get back to your office.
This app made number 2 on my list because--outside of Touchdown--it is the app I most often use for work.
3. Mobicip (beta)*
USERS: Instructional Use
MORE INFORMATION: http://content.mobicip.com/category/tags/android
(NOTE: See important update by CLICKING HERE!)
WHAT IT IS: Mobicip is a web filtering and app blocking software for Android devices. It's the first product on this list that has to be "sideloaded." That is, you won't find it in the Amazon App store and you'll have to find the .APK file yourself to install it. But don't worry--the link above includes a link to the APK file.
I've already written an entire blog post about Mobicip, so rather than repeat that here, I'll just say that if you're planning to hand a Kindle Fire to a student then you'll need this app, and I'll send you to my prior post for more information.
4. Wif-Fi Analyzer
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/farproc-Wi-Fi-Analyzer/dp/B004EBZX6W
WHAT IT IS: Wi-Fi Analyzer is a FANTASTIC tool for analyzing a school's Wi-Fi network. Not only can a user walk around the school and see the strengths of the various SSID's in the building, the user can also see the actual access points operating on that SSID (in my high school I can often see 8 or more access points at one time operating on the same SSID) and what channel they're operating on. It's an easy way to get lots of information about your wireless network.
5. Calorie Counter by myfitnesspal
USERS: Personal Use
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/Calorie-Counter-Diet-Tracker-MyFitnessPal/dp/B004H6WTJI
WHAT IT IS: I've kept a food journal on and off for most of my adult life (mostly because of genetically high cholesterol), and I've never found an easier way to do it than with this app. Users can search for specific brand name foods (Oreos or Quaker Instant Oats) or specific foods from restaurants (McDonald's French fries or the Bourbon Salmon from Friday's), and I've yet to find a food or a meal from a nationwide company that wasn't in the database. And if it isn't, you can create your own foods as well. There's also an option for adding exercise so you can track that as well, and like the Evernote application above, everything is saved in the cloud and available on other Calorie Counter apps or at the myfitnesspal.com website.
6. Documents to Go (or some other Office suite)
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/Documents-Go-Full-Version-Key/dp/B004SDSSFY
WHAT IT IS: Documents to Go is a Microsoft-Office compatible suite with a Word-like word processor, an Excel-like spreadsheet application, and a PowerPoint-like presentation application. There is a free version available in the App store, but it's view only.
Honestly, the Documents to Go app isn't necessarily any better than the other paid Office suites that are available in the Amazon App store. They're all about the same, with the the ability to create very basic files that can be modified on a computer later. I chose Documents to Go over an upgrade to QuickOffice, the app that comes pre-installed on the Kindle Fire, only because Documents to Go was one of the Amazon Free Apps of the Day.
7. Gemini App (or some other application management app)
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/SEASMIND-Gemini-App-Manager/dp/B004UT6RE0
WHAT IT IS: Gemini is an application management program that allows a user to 1) see what apps are currently running on the Kindle Fire, 2) see the amount of memory that those apps are using, and 4) kill any running apps that aren't desired. There are other apps like it in the Amazon App store (Advanced Task Killer being the other one that I'm most familiar with). Any will serve the purpose, but you're going to want to have at least one for those times when your battery seems to be draining for no reason and/or your Fire seems to be dragging for no reason.
8. Google Docs*
MORE INFORMATION: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.google.android.apps.docs&hl=en
WHAT IT IS: For those people too cheap to fork out fifteen bucks for #6 above, they can download the Google Docs Android app and do at least some basic office-suite work using the Google Docs app. It's not nearly as feature-rich as the web version of Google Docs, but in a pinch it'll get the job done.
There's a huge catch here, though. Amazon intentionally left all Google applications out of the Amazon app store, and though users can browse the Android market on their Kindle Fire, they can't actually install apps to their Kindle from the Android store. In order to install Google Docs, you'll need to search the Internet for the Google Docs .apk file (which I've already done for you: Download it here--once the page loads, just scroll down and click the link underneath the barcode).
MORE INFORMATION: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.google.android.gm&hl=en
WHAT IT IS: The Android app for Gmail. It's preinstalled on most Android devices, but the Kindle Fire removes it. Yes, you can setup a Gmail account in the mail app included on the Fire, but I like the original Android app better. It looks more like the familiar web version of Gmail, and it pulls emails in more quickly than the Fire's built in mail app.
Like Google Docs above, you have to "sideload" it, but I've done the footwork and you can just visit this page from your Kindle Fire and download the file here.
USERS: Personal Use
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/Pandora-Media/dp/B005V1N71W
WHAT IT IS: Does anybody really need me to describe this app? Pandora is the most popular Internet radio site in the world. It works great on the Kindle Fire. You'll want to have headphones or external speakers to connect your Fire to, though, because the speakers on the Fire are infamously weak.
11. USA Today
USERS: Personal Use, Instructional Use
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/USA-Today-24-Free-App/dp/B006PJ3UKC
WHAT IT IS: I am not a fan of the print edition of USA Today. It's always struck me as being written at about a third grade level, appropriate for fans of the Weekly Reader magazine. And with plenty of other free news apps in the Amazon market, you may wonder why, then, that I selected this one. The answer: because it's awesome. The number one thing that makes it awesome is that--unlike most apps--which are really just links to mobile versions of websites, this is an actual app. Yes, you have to be connected to the Internet to get the latest content, but once you've synced the latest content, whatever "section" of the paper you're in (Top Stories, Entertainment, Sports, etc.) will continue to be available once you go offline. That's right--if you're somewhere where there's no Wi-Fi signal, you can continue to read the section you were on the last time you WERE on the Internet.
12. Alarm Clock Extreme Free (or some other alarm app)
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dmobile-apps&field-keywords=alarm+clock+extreme+free
WHAT IT IS: Like numbers 6 and 7 above, this is really more of a You-Need-this-KIND-of-App more than it is You-Need-this-PARTICULAR-App. There are plenty of alarm clock apps for free in the Amazon app store. I settled on this one because (and this may sound stupid but it really does matter to me) the icon of the app actually looks like a clock so that I don't have to try to remember what it is that this app does, and because this app allows you to save multiple alarms and wake up to specific music on your Kindle Fire. But really, one alarm clock program is pretty much the same as all of the others.
13. ES File Explorer (or some other file explorer app)
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/EStrongs-Inc-ES-File-Explorer/dp/B004HN2FY0/ref=sr_1_1?s=mobile-apps&ie=UTF8&qid=1330704951&sr=1-1
WHAT IT IS: Ditto #12. ES File Explorer is an app that allows you to browse the folder contents of your Kindle Fire. You don't necessarily need THIS file explorer app--so long as you have SOME file explorer app. You'll need them for those occasions when you download a file to your Fire but can't find it, or when you need to delete some files quickly. This particular one works for me. Choose it or choose your own, but make sure you have one.
14. Wi-Fi File Explorer
PRICE: Free (or 99 cents for paid version)
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/Dooblou-WiFi-File-Explorer/dp/B004KA1YE2/ref=sr_1_1?s=mobile-apps&ie=UTF8&qid=1330705238&sr=1-1
WHAT IT IS: The Kindle Fire comes out of the box with a built in USB port for charging and for connecting to a computer so that you can transfer files. However, the Fire doesn't come with a standard USB cable, so if you DO want to transfer files from a computer to the Fire you need to go out and purchase one.
Unless you have this app...
Connect to Wi-Fi, open Wi-Fi File Explorer, and you're presented with a web address. Type that address into your computer's web browser and a web page will open up that lists all of the files on your Kindle Fire. You can browse, upload, and download files.
Some advanced features (such as bulk uploading and downloading) require the paid version, but if you need it, it's only 99 cents. Good luck finding a USB cable for that price.
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/Overlook-Fing-Network-Tools/dp/B005VT42BS/ref=sr_1_1?s=mobile-apps&ie=UTF8&qid=1330706310&sr=1-1
WHAT IT IS: Fing is a network information tool. Ever wonder how many different devices are on your network? What their MAC addresses and IP addresses are? What operating system they're running? This app quickly scans your entire network and presents you with this information. And it learns as you use it, maintaining a database of devices on the network as time goes on, so that not only can you see who's ON your network, but who USED TO be on your network but no longer is.
16. Kenton County Library/Overdrive Media Console
USERS: Personal Use, Instructional Use
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/Boopsie-Inc-Kenton-County-Library/dp/B006RA152Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=mobile-apps&ie=UTF8&qid=1330706407&sr=1-1
WHAT IT IS: Okay, so maybe this app is only useful if you live in Kenton County, Kentucky. But wherever you live, it would be a good idea to search the Amazon app store to see if there is a library app for your local library. With the Kenton County Library app I can not only browse my local library catalog, see if I have any books due or fines to pay, but I can also--using an app called the Overdrive Media Console (instructions for downloading and installing this app are in the Kenton County Library app)--check out ebooks and audio books on my Kindle Fire and read them using the Overdrive Media reader. That's right--I can install and utilize a competitor to the built in Kindle reader, and get books and audio for free! It's an inferior reader compared to the Kindle Fire (though I do like that--in addition to tracking where I am in the book--the Overdrive reader also tracks where I am in the specific chapter I'm reading!), but it does work on the Fire. Speaking of which...
17. Nook for Android*
USERS: Personal Use, Instructional Use
MORE INFORMATION: https://market.android.com/details?id=bn.ereader&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImJuLmVyZWFkZXIiXQ..
WHAT IT IS: ...I can also download the Barnes and Noble Nook reader and use it on the Kindle Fire. So if an ebook is cheaper on the Barnes and Noble device than it is on the Kindle device (99% of the time the prices are the same, and that 1% of the time when they're not it always seems to me that Amazon's prices are cheaper. But still...), you can purchase the book on your Kindle and read it in the Nook Color program.
As you might expect, the Nook Color app isn't available in the Amazon App store, so you'll have to sideload it, but again I've done the work for you. Just click this link.
18. PG Calculator Free (or some other calculator)
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/Piotr-Gridniew-PG-Calculator-Free/dp/B0052N5GLI
WHAT IT IS: Another app where you want to have one of these types of apps but don't have to necessarily choose this one. I like this one because, more than any other calculator app I tried (and I tried about 7 of them), this one looks like a real calculator. Plus, and again I know this silly but don't really care, the icon of the app is a calculator as well!
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/Evernote-Corp-Skitch/dp/B005TBWN0K/ref=sr_1_1?s=mobile-apps&ie=UTF8&qid=1330707637&sr=1-1
WHAT IT IS: Skitch is a whiteboard drawing app. Yes, there are a number of those on the Amazon app store, but I like Skitch because it is designed by Evernote (See #2 above), and it integrates perfectly with it.
20. Stopwatch (or some other timing app)
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.amazon.com/coolcode-org-StopWatch/dp/B004X85GMC/ref=sr_1_1?s=mobile-apps&ie=UTF8&qid=1330707855&sr=1-1
WHAT IT IS: A free stopwatch program. It's about the same as any other stopwatch program, no better, no worse. Again, it's the icon that drew me to this one (and the positive reviews).
Okay, I couldn't narrow it down to just 20 apps. here are two more that at least deserve honorable mention.
21. Web Snapshots: Have a web page you want to either preserve or share? Open your browser to the web page and then open Web Snapshots. You can use the program to save whatever page you're on as a PDF file or export to Evernote or your email system or several other programs on your Kindle Fire.
22. Blogger*: I use Blogger quite a bit (THIS blog is a Blogger blog), and this app would rate higher if you could use it to edit any blog entry ever made in a Blogger blog. Alas, you can create new blog entries in the Blogger app, but you can only edit entries that you originally began with the app. Started a blog entry on the web? Sorry. You're out of luck. Otherwise, I'd be using this app all of the time. It's still a nice tool to have, though, if I need to make a blog entry and there's no computer around.