New update available for the Kindle Fire 6.3.1: some people reporting being locked out of the internet

New update available for the Kindle Fire 6.3.1: some people reporting being locked out of the internet

This was just announced by Amazon, and I’m not in a place I can test it right now. Update: I have tested it…see below.

Note: there are quite a few reports of the update locking people out of the internet (and possibly out of other functions on the Kindle Fire). Please see the end of this post. If it’s happened to you, please indicate the factors in the second poll…that may help identify what is causing the problem.

They have a new software update available for the Kindle Fire.

Kindle Fire Software Update 6.3.1

This is just since the last major update on March 29th:

http://ilmk.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/kindle-fire-update-6-3/

Typically, a major update will change the second number, a minor update will tack on to that…so you would think this would be minor.

However,  this description on the page intrigues me:

“We have a new, free software update available for Kindle Fire.  This update brings additional parental controls to Kindle Fire, including the ability to password-protect purchases, disable access to specific content libraries, and block access to the Silk web browser. As with all software updates, these new features will be delivered automatically to your Kindle Fire.”

I’m champing at the bit to get more information on this! Can you block Silk without blocking downloading from the archives? What does “specific content libraries” mean here?

As soon as I can give you more information, I will, but I thought you’d want to know. If you do the update, I’d appreciate you letting me and my readers know what you see.

Update: Old Rocker in the

Amazon Kindle community announcement thread

has done the update, and nicely checked a couple of things at my request. I will confirm it as soon as I can.

The choices under Parental Controls were reported to be:

  • Web Browser – Blocked/Unblocked
  • Password Protect Purchases On/Off
  • Password Protect Video Playback On/Off
  • Block and Unblock Content Types Newstand/Books/Music/Video/Docs/Apps
  • Password Protect WiFi On/Off

I asked if when you clicked on Block and Unblock Content Types if you could block a specific book title, and Old Rocker said no.

If this is accurate, it’s still a big step forward. One issue people have had is young kids watching R-rated free Prime streaming video. This apparently allows you to block video playback, so it would solve that issue.

The Web Browser and Wi-Fi are listed separately…which may mean you can allow download from the archives (the “Cloud”) while blocking going to websites.

Update: okay, I got over to public wi-fi and did the update…it was raining, and I went uphill…both ways. Just kidding, but it was raining on the way over. ;)

I used just my Fire. The trick to that for me has been to use the free ES File Explorer app to put it in my kindleupdates folder on my Fire.

Once done, and the update was complete…I think this is a great enhancement!

First, let me say…I had parental controls on my wi-fi before the update…I wanted to see if the update accidentally wiped that out, and it didn’t. It was still in place when I was updated.

What I’ve seen so far is the changes in the parental controls:

Settings Gear – More – Parental Controls

You now have:

  • Parental Controls On/Off
  • Web Browser Blocked/Unblocked
  • Password Protect Purchases On/Off
  • Password Protect Video Playback On/Of
  • Block and Unblock Content Types (Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps)
  • Password Protect Wi-Fi
  • Change Password
So, for example, you could block the Apps. When your kid finished their homework, you could turn the apps on for half an hour before bed. :) There’s no timer, although that might be a nice touch for the future. :)
I tested a few things.
With the web browser blocked, I could still download books from the Cloud…and use the bookstream (the live chat). I wanted to test wikipedia lookup (which I suspect will work), but didn’t get a chance yet. Update: I’ve tested it: yes, you still have Wikipedia and even the Book Extras with the browser blocked.
When the web browser is blocked, you can’t even click on the Web tab. That means that other people couldn’t see where you had been going on the web…unless the pages were on the Carousel on the homescreen. You can remove them from the Carousel by “long pressing” (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second)
With the Books blocked, you also couldn’t go to the books section. However, you could, just like webpages above, see book titles that were on the Carousel. The books would not launch from there, though. To be clear: whether the book is downloaded to the Fire or not, you can not open it.
You may be wondering why you can both lock the video “specific content library” for video and block video playback. Blocking video playback will also work on the web. So, you could allow the web, but block video playback on the web.
Later on I’ll test it, but I would think that by blocking the music content type, that would not stop a website from playing an MP3.
Oh, and interestingly: when I go to put in the parental control password, it has a link where I can reset the Kindle Fire to factory defaults…which will wipe out the password, but also remove a lot of other things from your Kindle (including your downloaded copies of Kindle store books, although you can download them again).
Fascinating stuff! I might have called this 6.4, because I think it’s significant. Makes a big difference for Kindle Fires in the classroom, for example. Regardless, thanks again to Amazon for always innovating!
If  you have questions or have found other things, feel free to let me know.
Update: there appears to be at least one new application: Amazon Device Client Platform. Hm…there may be more new applications than that.
Update: I would recommend that you block Docs. I just feel like there is too much of a chance that there is personal information there you wouldn’t want somebody to get if your Kindle Fire was stolen…
Update: I’m seeing some reports from people who say that their Kindle asked them for a parental controls password after the update, when they’d never set one. If that happened to you, I’d be interested to hear about it. An inelegant fix at that point is that you can do a factory reset, but that will remove Kindle store books you’ve downloaded to your Fire, along with lots of other things (pretty much everything you’ve done to it…except software updates).
Note: you may be able to back-up things to your computer before you do a Factory Reset, and then copying those files back on to your Kindle Fire to save time (and locally stored data, like high scores). I have not tested this yet, and you would have to make sure you got them back into the right folders. They would also only work on the same device, typically (that would not be true for sideloaded text documents, for example).
Settings Gear – More – Device
Update: I’m seeing this concern from quite a few people now. The Kindle Fire updates automatically…and then won’t let them on the internet without entering a parental control password which they haven’t set and don’t know.
It’s certainly not consistent, but a significant number of people on the forums.
Please spread the word (if you feel comfortable) on these polls to places where people are raising the concern. I think it could help resolve the issue.

Update: regular reader, commenter, and Kindle Forum pro tuxgirl posted this

Amazon Kindle community thread

It suggests that some people have been able to reset the parental control password without resetting to factory defaults. That would be by going to

Settings Gear – More – Parental Controls

I don’t have that confirmed as working yet, though.

Perhaps more importantly, tuxgirl also posted this

Amazon Kindle community thread

about what to do before resetting to factory defaults.

Julie Mattson in the Amazon Kindle community made a good point.

If you are locked out of the Silk browser, but not out of the web (it’s unclear as to who is being locked out of what at this point), you could use a different browser.

There is this one in the Amazon Appstore:

Maxthon Mobile Web Browser

I had downloaded it previously, but I haven’t tried it…I’ve heard good things about it.

Update: here’s a possibility. So far, the poll overwhelmingly indicates that the problem is with people whose Kindle automatically updated, not with people who did manual updates.

If you are having the password prompt problem, you could try going to

Kindle Fire Software Update 6.3.1

and doing the manual update…even if you already updated automatically. I don’t know if that would work, but the update package does appear to disappear after the update has been completed, so it might.

If that works for you (removes the password prompt after the update), please let me know…thanks! :)

Update: I just let my Significant Other’s update automatically. No problem…and there wasn’t a parental control password on it before.

Update: In this

Amazon Kindle Help forum thread

*~*Pineapple*~* reports that Will K., the forum moderator has a possible fix for the “unknown password lockout” problem. They are recommending deregistering the Kindle Fire and then registering it from

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

That supposedly removes the password requirement.

It’s unclear if it would work if you did deregister/register from the device.  If you have to do it from MYK, you’ll need the serial number, which you can get from

Settings Gear – More – Device

This would be a better solution than resetting to factory defaults (also done in the same place as the serial number), but it still means you’d have to re-do some things.  This is what I had happen when I deregistered a Fire before:

* The Kindle store books were gone, but could be redownloaded
* My reading preferences (text size, color mode) were gone
* My music stayed on the device…even if I had purchased it from Amazon
* Videos that I had downloaded from Amazon were gone
* My personal documents were still there (that can be a really significant difference with resetting)
* My apps were still there (and presumably, my game progress and such, but I didn’t check that)
* My web bookmarks were wiped out

Update:

Okay, let me clarify my comment a bit, because I see they are doing a particular sequence.

It sounds like they don’t want your Kindle to know it has been deregistered and reregistered, so they have you do that process while the Kindle is turned off. That might mean you don’t have to redownload the things I said in upthread post.

I’m not quite sure how that affects the password, then…I wouldn’t have thought it was stored on the server, or they likely could have reset it.

So, here’s the sequence as I understand it:

Turn your Kindle Fire off (hold the power button in for a few seconds until it asks you if you want to Shut Down the Kindle, and tap that option.

This puts the Kindle out of communication with the Amazon servers. It would seem that turning off the wi-fi would do the same thing, but the restart might have been part of the process.

Go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

and click or tap on

Manage Your Devices

Copy your Kindle Fire’s serial number. You can highlight it, do CTRL+C. If you want it for later as well, you could paste it (CTRL+V) into something like Notepad.

Click or tap on Deregister for your Fire.

Click or tap on Register a Kindle (at the top of the list on your right).

Register your Kindle Fire (you should be able to paste the serial number here).

When that’s complete, start your Kindle Fire again using the power button.

It may take a minute to start up.

From what I’m hearing, you won’t need to register it again. You may need to do

Settings Gear – Sync

Supposedly, that will have removed the parental control password.

It sounds like it will have left all of your content on the device as well.

If this works the way I think it does, following the sequence above would be important. If you turned your Kindle on while the server thought the device was deregistered, that might cause you to have your content removed from the device.

Comment this post if you have tried this and it has or has not worked for you.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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18 Responses to “New update available for the Kindle Fire 6.3.1: some people reporting being locked out of the internet”

  1. Tom Semple Says:

    Tried a ‘manual’ update (twice) but the Update your Kindle button is not enabled. Hmm. Guess I’ll have to wait, or think of something else to try.

    I’m not interested in the parental controls but am hoping they’ve fixed some bugs, particularly the ‘grey icon’ and ‘no personal document covers’ bugs.

    Of course if they wanted to add XRay or Translate or multilingual support that would be fine, too.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Did you put it in the kindleupdates folder?

      They have Book Extras, so I’m guessing we won’t get X-Ray…that takes up memory, and people are worried about that with the Fire.

      • Tom Semple Says:

        I forgot about the kindleupdates folder thing, but it seems it updated automatically. I didn’t have any issue with parental controls, password lock etc. though I did turn it on just to see how that worked.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Of all the things I might want, collections are at the top of my list. These updates are not that important to me (not having any rug rats crawling around :D ) — glad they’re doing it for all those that do.

    My KF has been plugged in to a USB for the last several days. When I went to turn it on (to see if the update had arrived), it was completely dead, but the orange charging light was on. I checked Windows Explorer and the KF had disappeared from the list of attached devices.

    I took it off the hub and plugged it into a wall outlet, and after about 10-15 seconds it turned on. I’m guessing that some idle state on my KF (apps running, wifi, ???) was drawing more power than the USB hub could supply — eventually the battery ran out. Interestingly, when I plugged it into the wall, it didn’t have to reboot — it just turned on.

    I just checked — I’m still on 6.3 — no rush — I’ll let it update in its own time.

  3. Scott Foster Says:

    Bufo, My KF updated to 6.3.1 sometime in the last 12 hours, before I saw your post. However, I have NOT been asked for a password. The only out of ordinary behavior was the KF WIFI adapter asked for a new IP address lease this morning when I arrived at my office. The lease had been updated 48 hours ago, and normally, leases last for 5 days on my router. But I don’t think the behavior has anything to do with the KF update.

    Beyond that, perfectly normal behavior!

    Off topic, but I thought you’d be interested. to know I’m using my KF for ‘real’ work now. I’m in process of studying for the CISSP certification, and I’ve found the KF is GREAT for taking notes as I read. The keyboard is very forgiving, and I’m able to enter data almost as fast as writing longhand. I’m using OfficeSuite Pro, and saving my documents as Google docs. So far I’ve been using my KF for about 10 days taking notes, and I’m very pleased with it. I plan to take the KF along to my CISSP bootcamp course in a few weeks. I’ll let you know how it works out.

    Scott

  4. D. Hines Says:

    I had a symptom nobody else has mentioned yet. I had no idea there was an update, and thought my Fire was just acting flakey when the Scrabble app suddenly refused to load. Tried shutting down (the Fire equivalent of rebooting a computer) to see it that would help.

    When it came back up after I powered it on again, it looked like every purchase I’d ever made – books or apps – was back on the carousel, many with blank gray icons instead of the normal icons. Removing all the unwanted items was a real PITA.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      Yes, I’ve heard about that in the Kindle forums…everything showing up like that. The blank icons would probably have resolved, and if it happens again, try this:

      Settings Gear – More – Applications

      Switch to All Applications.

      Open up the Launcher, and clear your data.

      That may help. :)

  5. Ella Says:

    I tried doing the manual update and I did put it in the kindleupdates folder. My update button on my kindle was then lit up, but when I pressed it my screen just briefly flashed, the button went dark and nothing seemed to happen. I assumed if it was downloading again there would be some sort of status. I shut it down again and waited a few minutes, no change. I’ve tried every password I can think of. I really hope there will be a solution to this other than resetting my kindle. I am waiting to use that as a last resort.

  6. Round up #82: POD, Google on Fire, Fire losing marketshare « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] really surprised that the problems with 6.3.1 Kindle Fire update haven’t made it into the mainstream yet. This, to me, would be perfect blog fodder…tech [...]

  7. dwaynz Says:

    My last 4 soc worked. Don’t know if I set it or what before but yay.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, dwaynz!

      Fascinating! You’ve probably used that for some site, like a banking site. That makes the hypothesis that it is just grabbing some random password on your Kindle Fire and using that.

    • Edward Boyhan Says:

      I’ll bite, what does
      “My last 4 soc worked”
      mean? It’s driving me crazy — Google was no help :D

      BTW I’ve been using 6.3.1 for a while, books, apps, documents, web — haven’t seen any of the issues raised here (knock on wood :D )

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        I assumed it was the last four numbers of the social security number, which was recognized by the Kindle Fire as the parental control password.

        My guess is that was used as a password at some point somewhere…I’ve had websites which should already have my SSN ask for just the last four as verification before.

  8. dbe4876 Says:

    Actually, this blunder by Amazon gave me a good reason to root my Kindle. I now have Ice Cream Sandwich and have no reason to go back. Thanks Amazon! :D

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, dbe4876!

      Well, whether there is a reason to go back or not depends a bit on what Amazon does. For example, they might pay to license text-to-speech software from Nuance, as they have done on some earlier models. You wouldn’t have access to that without “going back”, or paying for it.

  9. My kid is graduating « I Love My Kindle Says:

    [...] do have my travel information on there, but thanks to the latest update, i password protect it. That makes me more comfortable if my Kindle Fire is lost or stolen (knock [...]

  10. tptools Says:

    Your de-registering and then re-registering will not work if you have turned off your WiFi anytime after the update was performed..You have locked yourself out of Deregistering /syncing the device because you are dependant on your internet connection to complete a re-register!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, tptools!

      Yes, good point. It won’t work for everyone, but it should work for some people…and the way Amazon suggested it will work, it shouldn’t hurt those for whom it doesn’t work. I’ve seen reports from people who were locked out of some things without being locked out of wi-fi.

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