Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tips and Tricks: Speeding Up the Silk Browser and Changing Your Home Page

Our first piece on getting the most out of your Kindle Fire, we're going to get into how to make your device work faster and look better. First though, there's a bit of news worth mentioning. There's been a lot of speculation about how much the components of the Fire cost Amazon and how much they are losing with their shocking $199 price tag. According to the research fir IHS iSupply, the total cost of each Fire is $201.70, meaning Amazon not only makes no profit from the device, they lose about $3 for each sale. Of course, they're hoping you'll make up for it by grabbing some books, music, or movies.

Speeding Up the Silk Browser

There are a few settings you'll be able to manipulate that will help the Silk browser on your Kindle Fire go even faster. Although there haven't been too many complaints about the speed, faster is always better, right? To access these settings, open a new browser and then go from menu options at the bottom to settings, where you'll get a list of options.

From top to bottom, turn off "enable plugins," meaning things like Flash won't slow you down with their long loading times. You'll also want to experiment with unchecking the "accelerate page loading" box. Some people are finding that pages may actually load faster without it.  Lastly, switch over to mobile view at the bottom, which should also make it easier to navigate on the Fire's 7" screen. Ta da! Give it a spin and see how it works for you. And what better place to test it out than

Changing Your Home Page

[Edit: It looks like the makers of Go Launcher EX have just disabled use of this app for the Fire on Amazon.  People are finding that the app still works if they sideload it from]

If you're looking for something different than the gray bookshelf carousel that appears in the background of your Kindle Fire, there's a way to change that to something more akin to what you'd find on other Android devices. The key is changing the app launcher that boots up with your device. What you need to do is download a free app called Go Launcher EX. Once it's there, hit the home button to choose between Go Launcher and Amazon's Launcher. You can also make one your default choice. Then restarting your device should give you the different look! [From liliputing]

Here are some more details on that free app you need to change the homescreen.

Name: Go Launcher EX
Rating: 4.6 stars over 24 reviews
Price: 0.00
Description: GO Launcher EX is the extra version of GO Launcher. This launcher app provides beautiful themes, fast flip speed, and useful functions. Features include fancy home screen transition (MENU-preferences-display settings-screen transition), theme support, smooth scrolling, icon pop-up menu, gesture support, and scrollable widgets that can be resized. 

Analysis: A great app for changing the design. As of today, it's no longer supported for Kindle Fire, but will be useful on Android phones.
Get your free copy of Go Launcher EX!

Stay tuned for more free apps later!


  1. I've noticed on Go Launcher that some of my app images (the square icons) don't properly show up but are generic gray buttons. Does anyone else have this issue? How do I get the right images to show up on the icons.

  2. Hi Rachel, unfortunately we have heard about people having issues with the icons, and to my knowledge there really isn't much that can be done about it. Have to wait for an update on the app, I guess. Sorry!

  3. I got the coolest app that I am using instead of the golauncher which I really like. It's called GoToApp Demo. It's not an actual demo, but a full application.

    Kid's Place With Child Lock (if you haven't seen it yet) is excellent too.

  4. Very interesting, Rachel. I'm looking at it now, and it looks like there's a lot of possibility there. So you just open it up and operate your Fire from there?

    And, yes, we're very familiar with Kid's Place with Child Lock. Thanks for letting us know!

  5. Yes, but I don't think there's a feature to get it to auto launch when you hit the home button, like golauncher has. There is a setting to have it show up in the notifications, so I click on that to go to the app instead of to the home screen.

    I've only been using it for a day or two, so I'm not 100% sure if I'll stick with it, but I like how I can organize my apps into folders. I've found a few minor bugs, for example just a few minutes ago I created a sub folder called Kid Games (under the Games category) and the "+add" button doesn't seem to be working. I rebooted and tried again but same problem, although it might just be on my Kindle.

    I'm not sure if I like the sub folder aspect or not. I need to mess with it some more and use it to see what I think.

    Also, on a side note, is there a way to change the background pictures that show up when you turn on the Fire (or come out of sleep mode) instead of the random default ones?

    And is there an easier way to "flip" between apps/features without going all the way home? For example, when I'm reading a book and then want to go look up something on the web, and then come back to the book there doesn't appear to be a short cut to go back and forth between them without going to the home screen, or the Gotoapp app. If I hit back on the web I will go back until I reach the book, but I want to stay on the same page. Just curious if there was a faster way to cycle through open apps/features on the Fire.


  6. Thank you Rachel. I'll definitely be sharing this tomorrow, and you get FULL credit. As for your questions, there unfortunately isn't a way to change those pictures. So many people and myself would love to be able to add our own pictures. Wouldn't that be great? Hoping for it in a future update. Your second question reminds me of something you can do on an iPhone, where before exiting an app you'll see a little bar of recently used ones to jump too. Nothing like that on the Fire yet, sorry to say.


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