In the midst of the Apple news on Tuesday you could be forgiven for missing other events, but for Android and Amazon users there was something of significance.  Amazon Prime has long had a free streaming video service attached to it with a slowly growing library.  It has been available via web browsers, consoles and media streamers and iOS but has never been released on Android.  Initially this was thought to be because of potential security issues but the holes involved were closed years ago.


On Tuesday Amazon made Instant Video available on Android in the US and the UK.  It is still possible in a limited set of circumstances – you have to have a phone not a tablet (although the specific distinction size is not clear), you have to reduce your security by allowing third party installations and there is no Chromecast support.

If you want to run this you need to follow these instructions:

  1. Download the Amazon App from the Google Play Store and log in.
  2. In the Amazon app navigate to a Prime Instant video and attempt to play it.
  3. A pop up will appear announcing that you need to install the Amazon Instant Video player.  Instead of bouncing you to the Play Store, which would be normal procedure the Amazon App tries to install the Instant Video player itself.
  4. If you have turned the “Allow third party apps to install” security setting off it will sucseed and if not it will pass you to that setting screen to turn it off and then will reattempt the install.
  5. At this point you can navigate back to the video you wanted to watch and stream it

A little more experimentation shows that the Amazon app will let you install any app which is hosted on the Amazon App store, being in effect an app store of its own.  This might seem a convenience but bypasses and requires many of Androids security features to be turned off and is directly contrary to Google’s Terms of Service.

Quite how this will turn out is unclear – either Google will have to make an exception and significantly degrade Android’s security or Amazon will have redesign part of its app.  At this point I’d recommend if you are a Amazon Prime member that you install the Amazon Instant Video player now and then re-disable the “Allow third party apps” check box.  This gives you the app but at least partially closes the hole afterwards.  I would also suggest that you do this soon – the app in its current format might not be there long.

On the whole its great that this is now available but Amazon has chosen to do it in the most difficult and confusing way possible.

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