How To Cast Your Amazon Fire Tablet to your Roku Device
For the better part of a decade, Amazon has put work into building an ecosystem of devices that is designed to work together as cohesively as possible. Your entire Kindle eBook library syncs with the Kindle apps on both your PC and your smartphone, the movie you start watching on your laptop through Amazon Instant Video picks back up with the app on your smart TV, and the apps you install on one device can appear on every single Fire-branded device in your library. Even though Amazon’s main operating system is built on top of Android, it’s clear when using an Amazon device that you exist in Amazon’s ecosystem, not Google’s. Amazon’s Fire tablets, for example, forego the ability to use Google’s Cast interface, despite running the same underlying architecture as a standard Android device. When you purchase a Fire device, you’re buying into the Amazon and Amazon Prime ecosystem. Between the Fire tablets, the Fire TV devices, and anything that runs Alexa, you’ll find the best ecosystem for your device exists in the world of Amazon Prime.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. If you happen to use Roku devices to watch Netflix, YouTube, and other entertainment apps on your television, you can use your Fire tablet to stream some of your favorite content to your device. It doesn’t work perfectly as intended; to have a perfect streaming experience, you’ll need a Fire TV, and even that has its fair share of limitations on what you can and can’t mirror or cast to your television. Still, it is possible to stream most of your entertainment from your Amazon Fire tablet to your television, and we’re going to show you how. Some applications work directly with Roku right out of the gate, while other services require some more work or patience to correctly work with your Roku device. And unfortunately, some applications and services will never work at all with Roku. This is our guide to properly watching and casting your Amazon Fire TV from your Roku device.
Apps that Work with Roku Out of the Box (Netflix)
Not every app on your Fire tablet works properly with your Roku; such is the case when it comes to using a tablet not originally designed for your set-top box. That said, there are some applications that work well with Roku, and that makes sense. Roku has one of the widest collections of applications for any set-top box platform; the only major application missing from the device is Apple’s iTunes and Apple Music platform, which makes sense, considering Apple also sells their own Apple TV devices. It’s perhaps the only platform that holds both Amazon and Google content on one device currently (though the Nvidia Shield TV, which runs on Android TV, does currently offer Amazon’s programming as well), which makes it one of the most flexible devices on the market today. And considering the ability to pick up a Roku starting at just $30, it’s also the cheapest box you can buy on the market today that manages to work with all of your favorite apps.
Of course, when purchasing a Roku over something like a Fire TV or Fire Stick from Amazon, it’s important to remember that the device isn’t going to work perfectly with every app on your tablet, especially without some hard work. For one, streaming Amazon content is completely locked to using a Fire TV device in conjunction with your Fire tablet, so it’s going to be difficult to watch any Amazon content on your Roku from your tablet without just using the default Amazon Video app already on your Roku. Amazon stops its viewers from doing so, requiring a Prime account to be signed into both accounts when going to stream video.
That said, you aren’t completely out of luck. The one big application that works with your Roku from your Fire tablet is Netflix. When browsing through Netflix on your Fire 7, Fire HD8, or Fire HD10, you’ll likely see a small icon in the top-right corner that will be familiar to any Android user. That’s the cast icon, which makes it possible to stream content from your tablet to practically any device in your house. This includes your Roku device, but will also allow you to stream to a Fire Stick, a smart TV, or nearly any other device running Netflix on a large screen. When you tap on that icon, you’ll see a notification appear on your device allowing you to pick from the list of devices to start sending streams towards. Basically, any smart device with Netflix connected will work with your tablet when you connect it, including your Roku, so you may have to pick from a list of devices that include other televisions in your house. You’re commanding Netflix to play a specific stream, so you’ll want to make sure your Roku and your Fire tablet are connected to the same account and the same network. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to play content on your television without a problem, and you can even control it right from your tablet without a hitch.
Apps that Work From the Google Play Store (YouTube)
Outside of Netflix, it’s difficult to find applications that work with your Roku device right from the Amazon Appstore. Even apps that support Google’s Cast standard on normal Android devices, like Hulu, seem to be missing the ability to do anything with your Roku or other set-top boxes. Of course, since Amazon’s Fire OS is built on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop, we can use this to our advantage. While the Appstore may be missing in applications that allow you to take advantage of your Roku to stream or cast content from your device, the Google Play Store has plenty of options and apps we can use to stream directly to your Roku box. But how on Earth do we get the Play Store to install on our devices? After all, there’s no way Amazon would ever allow a competitor’s application to be hosted in their Appstore! Well, as we mentioned, the Fire tablet lineup is running a forked version of Android that allows you to install the Play Store on your device. We have a full guide to installing the Play Store on your Fire tablet here (simply ignore the YouTube Kids section), but for convenience’s sake, we’ve included a shortened version below.
Installing the Play Store (abridged)
Start by visiting this forum post here. This is the XDA developers forum, a place where Android diehards come together to mess around with their phones, tablets, and boxes. XDA’s forums are legendary around the rooting and modding markets for Android, and it’s easy to see why. These users are passionate, and it’s the place to go to find in-depth reports about your own fair share of devices and products. Trust us when we say, there’s nowhere else on the internet like it. Once you’re on this page, download the four applications from your device. You’ll need to follow the instructions to ensure you download the right version for your device; some tablets like the Fire HD 8 require a different application than the Fire 7.
Once you have those applications downloaded, head into your settings menu. Scroll to the bottom of your settings page and tap on the option that reads “Security,” which you’ll find under the “Personal” category. There aren’t a ton of options in the Security section, but under “Advanced,” you’ll see a toggle reading “Apps from Unknown Sources,” along with the following explanation: “Allow installation of applications that are not from Appstore.” Toggle this setting on, then exit the settings menu. Begin installing each application one by one. If you followed the steps in the XDA guide above and downloaded each in the proper order, the fourth download should be on the top of the list, and the first download on the bottom, so that the order appears as such:
- Google Play Store
- Google Play Services
- Google Services Framework
- Google Account Manager
Work your way up from the bottom of this list and begin by installing the Google Account Manager. Unfortunately, there’s currently a bit of a problem with Fire OS 188.8.131.52. Either thanks to some tweaking by Amazon, or a bug in the software, trying to install these apps results in a greyed-out install button. Luckily for us, you can fix this problem by utilizing this quick trick: once you’re on the installation screen with the greyed-out icon, simply turn your device’s screen off, then back on and unlock your device. Scroll to the bottom of the app installation page again, and you’ll see that the “Install” button is once again working on your device. An alternate workaround involves tapping on the multitasking/recent apps icon once, then re-selecting the app installation page from your recent apps list, and you should see the “Install” button lit up in orange.
Follow these steps for all four applications in this order: Google Account Manager, Google Services Framework, Google Play Services, Google Play Store. Once that’s done, restart your tablet. When it reloads, you’ll notice that the Play Store is now installed on your device. When you launch the app, you’ll be able to load the main Google Play Store, where you can then log into your Google account on your device. Once you’re signed in, you can start downloading content to your device.
The major app that works with this is YouTube. Like Netflix, YouTube uses the standard Cast interface to share a YouTube video with your Roku set-top box. Unlike Netflix, however, YouTube doesn’t have a standard application in the Amazon Appstore. You will find a downloadable web interface for YouTube in the Appstore, but that application, unfortunately, doesn’t support any kind of streaming or casting to another device (largely because it isn’t based on an app, but is instead just using the mobile web page in an application wrapper). You can choose a video to stream directly to your device, and once the device is streaming, you’ll have full access to be able to control YouTube from your tablet, just as you could with a Chromecast and a standard Android device. If you’ve ever used the YouTube app on a standard Android device, you’ll have some familiarity with what we’re dealing with here.
The reason both YouTube and Netflix work properly with your Roku device is thanks to a streaming concept called Discovery and Launch, or DIAL, built by both Netflix and YouTube together, with support from Sony and Samsung. DIAL was the original way the Chromecast standard supported local devices, though this protocol was later replaced by mDNS. Outside of Netflix and YouTube, you won’t find many applications that support the system, since you’re simply launching an app on the supported device. This may seem inconvenient, but unfortunately, the casting standard used by Roku, known as Miracast, is not supported by newer Fire tablet devices. While it’s nice to get Netflix and YouTube support from your Fire tablet for casting to your Roku, it’s unfortunate that Miracast has been removed from the device lineup.
Adding the Roku App to Your Tablet
In addition to YouTube, you’ll also want to download the Roku application from Google Play once it’s added to your device. The Roku app adds a bunch of new controls to the device, including the ability to control the device with a virtual remote, download new applications from the channel store right on your device, access the full virtual keyboard on your tablet, and most importantly, view the “What’s On” tab, which will point you in the direction of streaming content that allows you to automatically launch from applications where certain movies are playing. For example, selecting “Eat Pray Love” from the free movie selection app will show you everywhere the movie is currently listed for rent, including Vudu, Amazon, and Google Play. However, it’ll also allow you to select The Roku Channel, where the app is currently available for free. If you don’t have a certain app on your device already, you’ll be prompted to login with your Roku account information; otherwise, it’ll automatically launch the app.
The Roku app can also stream some local media, something we’ll touch a bit more on below. Streaming local media through your Roku app is more limited than using the app we suggest below (not to mention requires the Play Store to be installed on your device), but it isn’t a terrible way to go about things. Once you have the app installed on your device, select the Photos+ tab on the bottom to load the music and photos on your device. You can’t stream any music added from Amazon Prime Music or Amazon Music Unlimited, but anything on your device that is officially downloaded and stored on your tablet will be capable of being added to your stream. Same goes with photos, and as a bonus, you can even use your tablet display to control the music playing on your device, or the level of zoom in and out on a photo.
Overall, the capabilities of casting through the Roku app on your Fire tablet aren’t quite the same as if you could cast directly between a normal Android device and a Chromecast, but it does add some serious features back to your device.
Streaming Local Media
If you’re looking to stream local media from your device, be it music, movies, videos, photos, or anything else of that nature, we have some quality app recommendations for you. Not every streaming app works properly with your Roku, but there are two options for streaming local content from your Fire tablet to your Roku device. The first is AllCast, which has an app on both the Play Store and the Amazon Appstore. Upon opening the app, you’ll be able to view a list of players you can use on your network. In our tests, Allcast managed to pick up both Roku devices on the network, as well as the Fire Stick also connected to the device. Using the app depends on you having the Allcast app also installed to your device, though some players (including Roku) can use AllCast without having a separate install.
There are a few notes for AllCast. First, you shouldn’t expect AllCast to directly mirror your device. Instead, AllCast will allow you to stream photos, videos, music, and more directly to your player, as opposed to just being able to mirror your display. Most users looking to mirror their tablet will be doing so to display content like photos or personal videos, and in that sense, AllCast does the same. Second, the Roku device on the receiving end and your Fire tablet must be connected to the same network. Third, the free version of AllCast is limited; you’ll only be able to stream content for five minutes at a time. To get the most out of AllCast, you’ll need to purchase the app. The AllCast listing on the Amazon Appstore has a wide listing of one-star reviews, with users complaining the app wouldn’t connect to their Fire Stick or Roku. In our experience, we were able to stream to both platforms, so we can give this app the thumbs-up. Before paying for the full version, make sure you test the free version out on your tablet to make sure the app does what you need it to do. You can get the app from either the Amazon Appstore or the Google Play Store; both app versions are identical.
Streaming Online Media
Unlike AllCast, which focuses primarily on streaming local media (though AllCast does support Plex in its paid version), our second recommended app focuses primarily on streaming online media through websites and other online sources. This app is called Video and TV Cast, and while there are several versions of this app available for download, the one we’ll be looking at is, unsurprisingly, related to the Roku box sitting underneath your television. With this app, you’ll be able to cast content from your favorite websites straight from the included browser provided with the app on your tablet. Simply use the app to browse to the website of your choice, then select the streaming icon built into the application to begin casting the video to your Roku. Video and TV Cast has a built-in ad blocker, which should reduce the amount of advertisements you’ll see while using the app. Likewise, you can also save websites within the bookmarks browser in the app, which makes reloading sites a breeze when browsing for new content.
Once you install the app, you’ll need to ensure that you have Android System Webview installed on your device; the app won’t work without it. You can find the app in the Play Store by searching for the name, though it should be noted that the app will try to install from the Amazon Appstore without properly being able to do so. There are some limitations to this app. First and foremost, the app won’t work on older Roku models. If you have an original Roku or Roku 2000-series box, or the Now TV-branded Roku box, you won’t be able to use the app on your device. Most other models, however, including the Roku 2, Roku 3, Roku 4 HD, Roku Express, Roku Premiere, and Roku Ultra should all be supported. For a full list of both unsupported and supported models, check the app’s Google Play list for some more information on the subject. Second, the app doesn’t work with all video. As expected, anything using DRM to protect their videos from those looking to steal the content won’t work. This includes Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime streams specifically, but anything with a DRM-based player won’t work here either. Same goes for anything based on Flash video, since the browser is incapable of loading the discontinued Adobe plugin.
Outside of those restrictions, however, you should find the app will work for everything from live television streams to web content on your favorite news sites. When you first stream from the app, you’ll be able to tell if it’s working properly once the Roku display changes to announcing it’s ready for casting. The app isn’t perfect, but in our tests, it managed to work well as long as we stayed within content that could easily be played over a stream. The development team behind the application is pretty solid, with a support email provided in the description of the app, a 24 hour refund for the paid version of the app (which, like AllCast, is necessary to continue using the app for long periods of time), and some well-written instructions in the description of the app. Setting up the app is as easy as waiting for the app to find your Roku device, connecting using the on-screen selector, navigating the browser to a video, and tapping on the Cast icon in the app. Since Video and TV Cast is simply pointing your Roku at a video stream, it’s easy to get the feed working properly on your device. It’s worth noting that some reviews had difficulty getting the app to work, but as long as your tablet and your Roku are on the same network when attempting to stream, you shouldn’t run into too many difficulties from the app.
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that not everything works perfectly between your Roku device and your Fire tablet. Your Roku isn’t designed to accept signals from Android devices, as a Chromecast is, and likewise, your Fire tablet is built to work hand-in-hand with a Fire TV or Fire Stick device from Amazon. Together with some specific apps, however, not to mention the addition of the Google Play Store on your tablet, you can get the two devices working together properly in no time. Google and Netflix have both built their respective video apps to stream to any connected device (though unfortunately, Google Play Movies is not included in this), which means you can easily stream their feeds to your Roku as long as you’ve installed the proper Play Store application to grab the YouTube app. Likewise, both AllCast and Video and TV Cast allow you to stream local and online media, respectively, which means you can add additional support to your device without too much work on your part.
If you’re looking to have a perfect casting experience with your Fire tablet, you’ll want to pick up a Fire Stick or Fire TV device from Amazon. Better yet, you can purchase a Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra from Google, which, when combined with the Play Store installed on your device through third party repositories like APKMirror, will allow you to get Cast up and running on your device in no time. Roku wasn’t built with a Cast-style protocol built-in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize what is offered through the app and combine it with apps like Netflix, Roku, and AllCast to get your casting up and running on the device.