Last week, when we first reported on the new Amazon Underground program, it was not yet available to Fire tablets: a software update was needed. Well, that update (to Fire OS version 4.5.5) is now in release and brings the new Amazon Underground “Actually Free” app program to 3rd and 4th generation Fire tablets.
Amazon Underground Actually Free apps are special versions of apps that are free to download and play, and include in-app purchases and bonuses at no charge. But don’t worry that you’re somehow getting less in the Actually Free version: one of Amazon’s requirements for developers to get an app listed in the Underground/Actually Free program is that the Underground/Actually Free version must offer substantially the same or better app content and user experience.
Underground/Actually Free Apps Require You To Enable App Usage Tracking
Participating developers earn money on Underground/Actually Free apps based on how long they’re in use instead of via an up-front charge to buy the app, or through in-app purchases.
Because payment is based on actual usage, people who want access to these special versions must have app usage information tracking enabled on their device(s). If this option is currently turned off on your device, you’ll be prompted to change it the first time you open an Underground/Actually Free app and will be taken to the appropriate device settings screen to do it. Some users are reporting they’re prompted again every time they open one of the special apps, even after changing the setting, and this is probably a temporary glitch. If it happens to you, just tap the back arrow at the right or bottom of your screen to return to the app.
Look For The Actually Free Ribbon
All the apps listed with the Amazon Underground program really are free, but you must be sure to get the Undergound/Actually Free version. You can’t tell which versions are which just based on their names or titles, you have to look for the special Actually Free corner ribbon, as shown on the app icon at the upper left.
For example, there are six different versions of Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power currently (as of 8/31/15) listed in the Amazon App Store:
Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power HD, free version – this is NOT an Actually Free version, it’s a free, trial version of the HD app where only some game levels are unlocked. Compare the icon at right to the one above left: except for the Actually Free ribbon, they’re identical.
Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power HD (full) – this is the paid version of the full HD app. Its icon is the same as that for the free version, but again, this is NOT an Actually Free app and its icon doesn’t have the Actually Free ribbon.
Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power SD Versions
Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power (Full) – this link goes to the Underground/Actually Free SD version, with all game levels and in-app purchases unlocked. Its icon is pictured at left; note the Actually Free ribbon. The only difference between this app’s icon and that of the Underground/Actually Free HD version is that this one isn’t labeled “HD”.
Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power – free version – this is NOT an Actually Free version, it’s the free, trial SD version of the app where only some game levels are unlocked. Its icon is pictured below at the right, and again, it’s identical to the Actually Free SD version except it’s missing the Actually Free ribbon.
Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power (Full) – this is the paid SD version of the full app in SD format. Its icon is the same as that for the free version, but again, this is NOT an Actually Free app and its icon doesn’t have the Actually Free ribbon.
Finding the correct version can be tricky but only Underground apps carry the Actually Free ribbon, so if you want to be sure you’re getting the Actually Free version be sure the app you’re about to get has the Actually Free ribbon.
Actually Free Reviews: A New KF on KND Feature
Just because you can get a given app for free, that doesn’t mean it’s worth your time. And Underground/Actually Free apps may have no in-app purchases, but that doesn’t mean every one of these apps offers unlimited power ups or bonuses.
For example, the Underground/Actually Free version of Maleficent Free Fall starts the user off with a very generous, but still limited, supply of “magic” to use for purchasing in-game power ups. This version also eliminates access to the in-game store completely, so once you’ve used up your starter supply of magic you can’t get any more. You will still have infinite lives, but unlimited re-tries may not be enough to get you through the highest levels. And you don’t know this until you’ve used up your magic supply, because the game description doesn’t say anything about it.
To help our readers out, KF on KND will take the hit by trying out one Actually Free app a week and posting our review, which will include any “gotchas”, here.