Why I don’t use Amazon’s Silk browser
I’m afraid of my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB right now.
As a consumer, that’s not a good place to be. :) As the title of the blog says, “I love my Kindle,” and I do.
Still, I keep checking and checking, dreading something.
You see, I know there is an update coming. I’ve been reading about it in the Kindle forums, but it hasn”t been announced yet and isn’t available at
When it happens, it happens. There’s really nothing you can do about stopping an update, if you connect with Amazon’s servers (which I do regularly).
I normally welcome the updates, but this one, which will change my system from 8.4.3 to 8.4.5, is reported to break something I use every day.
First, let me tell you how to check your own version:
Swipe down from the top, More, Device, About…you’ll see the system version listed there.
If you have 8.4.5, you’ve already gotten the update.
The numbers are similar for the 7″: if you have 7.4.5 (rather than 7.4.3), you are updated.
I’ve heard that it brings the ability to highlight in different colors.
However, and this is what concerns me, I’ve also heard that it breaks the use of the Flash player in non-Amazon browsers.
You see, back in November of 2011, Adobe abandoned Flash for mobile browsers. That meant that the most current mobile browsers were unable to play Flash videos. It wasn’t Amazon’s fault, and it wasn’t limited to the Fire.
What you could do, though, is install the Flash player on your Fire, and use another browser that would support it.
That’s what I’ve been doing.
Amazon allows us to install apps from outside sources…despite what you might hear, it’s not a closed ecosystem, and never has been.
I think Amazon wants to compete. Oh, they want to win, and they’ll spend more money than you’ll ever see to do it, but I think they like the head-to-head.
Here’s how you allow it:
Swipe down, More, Device, Allow Installation of Applications from unknown sources
Naturally, if you do that, Amazon can’t be sure that what you install will work and that it won’t hurt your Kindle, so you take the responsibility for that app. That makes sense to me, and I’m fine with it.
I have the Maxthon Browser (version 4.0.4 1000) installed, and Adobe Flash Player (version 11.1).
You can get the Flash Player directly from Adobe here:
I’d gotten the Maxthon browser originally directly in the Amazon Appstore, when it was compatible with my first generation Kindle Fire.
I think I got Maxthon for my Fire 8.9 from 1Mobile. Note: I am not recommending that you do the same…while I took that responsibility with my own Fire, I don’t want to take it with yours. :)
Having the combination of the two has meant that I can watch Flash videos on my Kindle Fire.
According to what I’m hearing, though, once my Fire updates, I won’t be able to do that any more, using Maxthon (or Dolphin).
I know some people will immediately assume that Amazon did this on purpose, to force people to use Silk.
Personally, I doubt that’s the case. Yes, if you use Silk, they can probably collect more data on you, and that’s valuable. Yes, if Maxthon (or Dolphin, another reportedly affected browser) breaks your Kindle Fire, you are going to ask Amazon for help…even saying “no” costs them something, because Customer Service is expensive.
Generally, though, Amazon hasn’t done that kind of thing. For example, they approved the Netflix app for the Kindle Fire…even though it is a direct competitor to their own Amazon Instant Video (and in some ways, to Prime Streaming Video).
While I do believe Amazon will do what it can to encourage you to use their apps, devices, and services, I don’t think they do it by trying to prevent you from using the competition (any more than what is the business norm).
In fact, I’m hoping that the reason I don’t have this update yet, and that it isn’t on the Kindle Software Updates page, is that they are trying to fix the problem (and possibly others). Amazon doesn’t want unhappy customers. I’m guessing that they were trying to do something to make the Silk browser work better with online videos, and that is just conflicting with Flash. That’s just my guess, though.
So, here’s the obvious question:
I’m a big Amazon fan. I use Kindles, Kindle Fires, Subscribe & Save, and am a Prime member.
Why don’t I use Amazon’s browser?
After all, I thought it sounded like one of the coolest Kindle Fire features. I liked the idea of “predictive loading”. It was going to learn my habits (and those of others), and pre-load webpages to make it faster. For example, when I go to
a movie & TV reference site on the web (which is now owned by Amazon), I almost always go to the Top News section after I peruse the front page.
Silk was supposed to learn that, and so pre-load Top News whenever I went to IMDb.
It was supposed to do a lot of the processing in Amazon’s Cloud, where it would be much faster than on the device itself.
Well, I never really saw that…Silk has never been that fast for me, but that’s not the big issue.
The big thing is that it doesn’t have a couple of important features that I rely on in my browser.
The first one would be hard for them to fix. There is no desktop version of Silk, and no SmartPhone version.
One reason that I like Maxthon is (like Google Chrome), you can easily sync your bookmarks. Inevitably, I’m going to find websites on my Fire which I would rather see on my desktop, and I’m going to want mobile access to sites I’ve bookmarked on my desktop. Silk can’t do any of that.
The other big thing is that there is no privacy or “stealth” mode. I use that much of the time. It just means that the browser doesn’t store information about you the same way. When I visit a site, it doesn’t cache that site for me later, or store my passwords, or put it into my history, that kind of thing. Sure, that means that I have to enter that stuff every time, but for a lot of sites, I’m okay with that. If I have a site I’m going to use a lot, I browse not in private mode. If it’s somewhere I’m just going to maybe see a funny video, I’m stealth.
There are other reasons to use a privacy mode…you may not want other users of the device to know which sites you visit…I won’t speculate on why. ;)
That’s one they could fix. I think it would especially appeal to people now, after all the talk there has been in the press about surveillance of internet use. Stealth mode wouldn’t prevent spying on you, of course, but it would make people feel like something has been done.
In fact, I think it would be cool if Amazon licensed
for Silk, so we could have better control over our information on line while still using services.
Now, it’s possible Amazon doesn’t want a privacy mode because it wants to collect data on your use, and it might interfere with that. I do think those two don’t have to be the same thing…you could erase my tracks while still knowing what my itinerary was. :) Amazon could know in the moment, and then not have my Kindle Fire know it afterwards.
Now, I should be clear: from what I’m hearing, the update won’t break Maxthon…just break the use of Flash in Maxthon. If I want to go to a site privately and use Flash, though, I’ll reportedly be out of luck.
Here’s hoping that isn’t what happens. :)
I’m curious if other people use the Silk browser (that’s what you use when you tap Web on your Fire)…so I’m going to ask you:
These questions only apply if you use a Kindle Fire (of any generation):
Okay…I’m going back to having the update of Damocles hanging over my head. ;) Hopefully, it won’t mess me up…virtual fingers crossed.
What do you think? Does privacy mode matter to you? Do you sync your internet bookmarks/favorites between devices? Have you had experience with the latest updates? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
Update: I’m hearing from reliable sources that 8.4.6 is out there, and does not cause the Flash problems in non-Amazon browsers. Hopefully, if that one is good, they will post it at the software update site. My Fire hasn’t updated yet…
Bonus: Amazon recently updated the discontinued Kindle Touch. Yes, that’s right…contrary to what I see people say, Amazon does sometimes update discontinued devices…and in this case, it added some significant functionality (improving search, buying from a sample, and viewing the full dictionary definition).
You can get it from Amazon here:
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.