Amazon releases Kindle Fire update with shared notes, book extras
Amazon has been consistently improving their $199 Kindle Fire tablet with software updates since the device launched. On Wednesday the company pushed out yet another software update bringing with it some new features and overall improvements.
The changes in this update are numerous and many of them are very welcome improvements to the device. First, Amazon has added the ability to highlight text in e-books and share those highlighted passages with others. Users can also add their own notes to these shared selections. Both the notes and the selections can be viewed by other Kindle owners and can be shared on Facebook and Twitter.
Amazon is also bringing the Kindle Book Extra feature to the Fire. That feature was previously only available on the Kindle Touch. Kindle Book Extras provides additional information for e-books like character bios, a glossary, a list of location in the book, or author information.
The Kindle Fire will now also have better overall support for textbook viewing. The tablet now supports “Print Replica Textbooks” which simply means that the page layout and number for textbooks is maintained on the tablet instead of being reformatted to better fit the device. While that may mean viewing the book on a small screen is less than ideal, at least students will be able to follow along with specific page numbers from their professors.
The software update also brings with it some non e-book related updates. The Silk web browser now offers the ability to read sites in text-only mode, something the iPad offers up via its Safari browser. Also, documents stored on the Fire are now automatically backed up to the user’s Amazon Cloud Drive. You can redownload those documents as many times as you like and to as many other devices. The current place in those documents can also be synced across devices now, just the way it works in e-books.
Arguably one of the best features of this update is actually related to video rentals on the Fire. Previously rental periods for movies started when the movie was downloaded. This was incredibly inconvenient, especially for users who wanted to download a bunch of content in advance for situations where they may be away from a WiFi connection for extended periods. Now, the rental period for movies begins when you start watching the video. That makes so much more sense and is probably the way rentals should have been right out of the gate.
Amazon also claims some general performance improvements and a faster reconnection to a WiFi network once the connection drops or the device is put to sleep. I’ve noticed a quicker reconnect to WiFi with my device but I can’t really tell if the overall performance of the device is any snappier after this update.
If you haven’t gotten the update for your Kindle Fire over the air you can always download it directly from Amazon. Remember if you want the update to come over the air you need to be connected to your WiFi network and your Fire needs to have a fully charged battery (best to just keep it connected to an outlet).
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