Update for Mindle adds sharper contrast, parental controls
Amazon has updated the basic Kindle (the $79/$109 model in the USA),which I call the Mindle.
You’ll get the update automatically over wi-fi in “the coming weeks”.
You can do the download manually by going here:
I’ll do that myself shortly and update this post with my experience, but I wanted to get this out right away.
This breaks ground in one important way.
It brings parental controls (currently only available on the Kindle Fire) to an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle).
You’ll be able to restrict access to the browser, your account’s archives, and the Kindle store.
That’s big news!
I would expect other RSKs (the Touch and the Keyboard) to follow.
The other announced changes:
- An improved contrast font
- Support for KF8 (Kindle Format 8), which can do a lot more sophisticated things than AZW (the main format for books in the Kindle store)
- Kindle Panel View (which lets you read comics one panel at a time)
- Support for children’s books with pop-up text
- Dictionaries (and there are several for different languages) will be grouped into one Collection…even in the Archived Items.Does this portend Collections coming to the Archived Items…and perhaps to the Manage Your Kindle page?
- Improved pan and zoom on some tables and images
I expect to write more about this tonight, but I didn’t want you to have to wait for me.
Update: I had originally said that I thought the Mindle might have been getting updates first, but one of my readers, Mike, refuted that.
Update: the update is 44.1MB.
It went through two updating cycles, then rebooted…the whole process was about six minutes.
When it first came up, it didn’t show anything on my Homescreen, but quickly refreshed (under twenty seconds, certainly).
The Dictionaries Collection was immediately visible…even sorted by Title. When sorted by Title, the books, did not appear both inside and outside the Collection.
The change in the contrast isn’t obvious to me, but I can’t always tell that sort of thing…it was fine for me before. Actually, now that I’ve seen one of the ads, it does look quite a bit sharper.
When I went to
one change was immediately apparent: Airplane Mode. That will enable you to turn off the wireless when on a plane…it’s probably not any different from turning off the wireless ordinarily. That may have been changed just to make it more obvious, and possibly to comply with evolving FAA regulations.
When I went to the next page, that’s where I could see Parental Controls.
Clicking on that, I get a choice to do
- Web Browser: turn off
- Kindle Store: turn off
- Archived Items: turn off
There was also this important note:
“When Parental Controls are enabled, Deregistration and Reset to Factory Defaults are disabled.”
That will prevent a child from resetting and getting around the Parental Controls (although that also knocked them off the account).
They note that locking the Kindle Store on the account does not stop you from using your computer to purchase books and send them to the Mindle. That’s nice: that means the guardians can still send books to the Mindle, even though books can’t be purchased directly from it.
When I clicked to turn off access to the Archived Items (I wanted to test that first), I was asked to enter a password, and confirm it. I could also have entered a password hint. I tested not entering one, and that worked.
Nice! With the Archived Items blocked, I can’t even see them (the option is grayed out). Speaking of gray, that means that finally, the “owners” of the account (the parents, the legal guardians…whatever arrangement it might be) can have a book like Fifty Shades of Grey and have kids on the account not know it.
This ends the need for the register/deregister dance* as a means of parental control, at least on this device. It wouldn’t surprise me if this leads to them having RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles) also remove access to downloaded Kindle books when deregistered, just like the Kindle Fire.
Update: I tested blocking access to the archives and to the web browser, and sending a book from
That worked just fine! That means parents or legal guardians can send both archived and newly purchased books to a Mindle while blocking a child (or other user) from getting anyway…that’s going to make some folks very happy.
Blocking the web browser did not stop downloading from the archives.
When I went to the Archived Items to look at the change in the dictionaries, it wasn’t obvious at first. You couldn’t choose to sort by Collections. However, the Dictionaries Collection did appear there…alphabetically amongst the books under “D”.
Overall, I think this is an important update. It really expands the use cases for the device. If a school has had a “no internet device” policy in the classroom, this can resolve that. That may expand the market.
I think this is just a hint of what we’ll see in the next couple of months…
* The R/DD (Register/Deregister Dance) is what I have called it when someone registers a device to an account, downloads a book or more, then deregisters the device…just to get the books. People do that as a way of sharing: on anything except a Kindle Fire, the downloaded books stayed on the device, meaning they could be read. Parents and other legal guardians used it to put books on a child’s Kindle without giving the child access to the archives. The parent or guardian would put the desired books on the child’s device, then deregister it. The child would read the books, then the parent or guardian would re-register the device and download more, then deregister it again. This makes that whole process much simpler. Hm…I need to test one more thing. I’ll try to send a book from the archives while I have the archives blocked on the device. If that works, we’re cake. Update: yes, that worked! So, you can have the archives blocked, have the web browser blocked, and still send books from the archives…sweet! I’ll update that part of this post as well.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.