Amazon's new cheap Fire tablet brings low-key but important software upgrades

An Amazon Fire 7 2022 in a case, from the front and back
(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon's new cheap tablet is here, with the Amazon Fire 7 (2022) being the newest refresh of the company's smallest and most affordable line of slates – but it brings a few more upgrades than you may expect.

The headline changes here from the Amazon Fire 7 (2019) are upgrades to the performance and battery life, and that's not exactly a major revolution, but there are actually some more changes that are all down to the software.

The Amazon Fire 7 tablet comes with the Fire OS 8 software, which is based on Android 11 – Amazon hasn't updated the software its tablets use since 2019, when it rolled out Fire OS 7, which was based on Android 9. This is all detailed in Amazon's developer blog.

So the new slate gets the first major software update in several years, and that means there are a few great features that you can access on the new Fire 7 that you couldn't on older tablets, even the Fire HD 10 from 2021. Here are our three favorites.

Going dark

The first of these features, and arguably the most important, is a system-wide Dark Mode which Android 10 brought with it.

While some apps have their own dark mode equivalents, Android 10 lets you select an overarching Dark Mode, which turned all the individual modes on – so any time you boot up an app, or just look at your home menu, it will automatically be running in Dark Mode.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)

The Amazon Fire HD 8 (Image credit: Future)

This feature has several benefits – it can be more gentle on the eyes, especially at night when you don't want bright web pages assailing your retinas. For OLED screens it's also more power-efficient, as these dark areas simply have the pixels turned off, though the difference isn't always huge.

Giving your permission

The Android 10 and Android 11 updates brought lots of upgrades to permissions – that's when you boot up a new app and it asks for access to your files, or photos, or contacts, or location, or similar.

With these updates, you can temporarily grant access, or grant access only when you're using the app, or grant access only on a one-off basis.

These improvements are great for your security and sense of wellbeing – you have a better idea of which apps have permissions for which things, and you can make sure that any dodgy downloads aren't able to access your data. 

No cheeky background activity

One small Android 10 feature is that apps now have a reduced ability to start processes in the background.

This means there's less going on with your phone that you're unaware of, and also reduces the battery and performance drain from these hidden processes.

This is admittedly a small feature, but we're fans of anything that helps with both security and battery life.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.