How to setup Android tablets for offline Amazon video and browser whitelisted parental control

These instructions are for Android 4.4 on two Lenovo TAB 2 tablets bought in the US. I’m also using a 32 GB microSDHC card for each so we can download more.

Aims

  • Allow videos that were bought for watching on Amazon’s website to be watchable while offline (e.g. on a plane)
    • Caveat: There is no option in this app to password-protect all sections other than Downloads in order to keep children from watching trailers and such. There are parental controls that can be enabled, and we did, but this leaves the choice of what’s appropriate to Amazon’s editors.
  • Allow children to access websites that we choose and no others
    • Caveat: We installed an app named Kiosk Browser to do this, but it’s not perfect. Mostly, it’s designed to be the only app that non-admin users of the tablet will be able to use, while we want to allow access to Amazon Video also. Also, if you use the hardware power button while Kiosk Browser is running, which should be a normal thing to do, after startup Android will prompt which launcher app you want to use instead of remembering if you don’t want it to be Kiosk Browser (so that your kids can get to Amazon Video easily)
    • We just learned of Android Chrome’s support for Supervised Users, and this might be a better solution
  • Disable access to all installed apps, including Settings and Play Store, except for Amazon Video, a browser, and maybe Skype for calling relatives
    • Caveat: As of the end of 2015, neither¬†Android Settings nor the Android Play Store offer a way to set a password for access to them specifically, and I could not find any app that I would trust to do this. So this aim isn’t solved yet.
  • Prevent anyone but us parents from changing any of these settings

Steps for offline Amazon Video

  1. Create a Google account to be used only for the children’s apps.
  2. Enable 2-factor auth on that Google account, which should help prevent your child from installing anything. To be sure you can get these codes while on a flight, install the Authy app on your phone and use it to photo the QR code shown when you enable two-factor auth.
  3. On each tablet, go into Google Play app and login.
  4. We have a tablet for each child, so to identify the devices, we bought color-coded cases. And went into Play Store using desktop browser > Gear button > Android Device Manager > Pencil button > (added case color to name)
  5. In the tablet Android Settings, disable location services so Google and perhaps others cannot track your child
  6. Disable loud sounds https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Lenovo-Android-based-Tablets/Start-up-sound-idea-s6000/m-p/1298239#M13520
  7. Make sdhc the default storage medium so you can download more: Android Settings > Storage > SD Card.
  8. Uninstall or disable as many apps as you can except the Play Store and Android Settings (and maybe Skype for calling relatives)
  9. (Necessary only for non-Amazon Fire devices) Using your tablet’s browser, go to https://www.amazon.com/appstore_android_app which will download the Amazon App Store app for Android. Use it to install both Amazon For Tablets app and Amazon Video app (exactly as spelled here, not Instant Video).
  10. Amazon Video app shows “We’re unable to show this content. Please try again later.” I see this while outside the US, so I installed the Android solution of my vpn service https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.privateinternetaccess.android&hl=en then while connected through it, Android Settings > Apps > Amazon Video > Clear Data.
  11. Logout of Amazon For Tablets, then log back in. Visit ‘Your Orders’ and confirm that it shows actual orders you’ve made — before logout it may show Recently Viewed Items, which indicates it’s confused. You should still be on VPN.
  12. Start Amazon Video and verify your video library is accessible through the menu. Download all your purchases that you want while offline.
  13. After downloading, we could view all the downloads without the vpn and without any network connection at all.
  14. Set Amazon Video app’s parental controls http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201423060

Setting up a browser that enforces a whitelist

  1. Using laptop browser logged into same Google account as the tablet’s Play Store, installed Pro version of https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.procoit.kioskbrowser because it’s a browser app that has a url whitelist, and is based in a country I trust (UK)
  2. Signup for free trial of the remote management service at https://www.kbremote.net/Home/Start Then in the app go to Settings > Remote Management > Login/Signup > Login and use the same userId and password. In a few minutes, logging into the site will show the device.
  3. Setup which urls should be allowed https://kioskbrowser.userecho.com/topic/908050-profiles/
  4. To make one device’s profile slightly different from others (e.g. different default url), use Profile Overrides https://kioskbrowser.userecho.com/topic/847081-profile-overrides/
    Sign up for a Kiosk Browser forum account at https://kioskbrowser.userecho.com/

Working all this out took me a day and half, so I hope sharing it here saves some other parents some time to prep for their travel!