Tweakquests #1

Tweakquests #1

Amazon engineers are probably working right now on software for new versions of tablets and non-backlit EBRs (E-Book Readers) to be released later this year (and possibly announced in the next couple of months), as well as for updates to existing devices which might go along with the new releases.

I don’t expect there to be anything really revolutionary on the hardware side, although I am excited to see what big new services might appear.

Rather than going “pie in the sky”, as I’ve done before, I thought I’d take a post and just make some suggestions for small changes. Since I love making up new words šŸ˜‰ I thought I’d call them “tweakquests”, being a portmanteau of “tweak” and “request”.

These are all just little requests, and I won’t be upset if they don’t happen…but I figured it couldn’t hurt to say something. šŸ™‚

Tweakquest #1: change the Kindle Fire volume icon when it is muted

It really matters to me if the Kindle Fire is muted or not. I generally play games with the sound off on the game. However, I watch videos and listen to text-to-speech with the sound on. That means I am turning it on and off fairly often. When my Significant Other is asleep, I don’t want it to make noise. For example, when I open the CNN app, I have it set to play James Earl Jones saying, “This is CNN”. I don’t want to hear that if my SO is asleep, but I think it is cool at other times.

The way it is now, I have to swipe down from the top, then tap the volume icon to see where the slider is set. Ideally, I’d like to have an icon next to the wi-fi icon that would show if it was muted or not (and that I could tap to mute/unmute), but barring that, just have it change color something so I can see it on the swipe without having to tap it and then go back to get to what I was doing.

Tweakquest #2: have the Mindle guess that I want to end a highlight after I’ve started one

Right now, when I click to start a highlight on the “Mindle” (the “entry level” Kindle), and then move the cursor to complete the highlight, and then click again, it highlights the “end highlight” choice…but it doesn’t click it. It gives me four choices:

  • cancel
  • create note
  • share
  • end highlight

I get that people might want to cancel the highlighting (although not that often, I would think). Yes, I know people share highlights, and that they might create a note where they highlighted something (I do that, sometimes, to identify the speaker). It just seems like the vast majority of the time, if you start a highlight, you want to end it. Let people click again after they’ve ended the highlight if they want to add a note or share, or even undo the highlighting.

Tweakquest #3: let us cancel pending deliveries

It seems like a lot of people really, really want to keep their

Manage Your Kindle

pages clean. I see, over and over again, where people want to know how to get rid of all of those foreign language dictionaries. You can’t really, by the way…if you delete them, they’ll come back. Amazon puts those in your archives (not on your device…they aren’t taking up memory there) so that the Kindle can perform as advertised and be switched to another language. Think of them as part of the Kindle’s operating system. Leave them alone, and they’ll keep dropping down the list as you buy more items.

I’m not that picky about that, but I don’t like having pending deliveries which will never be delivered. That may happen because I’m not using the Kindle any more, or because I sent it to the wrong device. I have 32 of them there right now. I don’t think it would take a lot of engineering to allow me to say, “Cancel this delivery”. Ideally, yes, I’d like to ability to redirect it to another device, but even just canceling it would be fine. It would still be in the archives if I wanted to get it later.

Tweakquest #4: get “Airplane Mode” (wi-fi off) back where it is easy to find

For example, when I am reading a book on the Paperwhite, I have to tap to show the menu, tap the menu, tap Settings, then tap Airplane Mode. What would be best would be to be able to tap or click the wi-fi icon to go into Airplane Mode or not. Otherwise, put it at the first level of a menu.

By the way, I think it they are insisting on “Airplane Mode” rather than “wi-fi off” for a couple of reasons. One is that on a device with multiple “radios”, Airplane Mode turns them all off. For example, in my Kindle Fire, it will turn off wi-fi, 4G, Bluetooth, and (I think) Location Based Services. The other thing is that there are likely to be regulation changes coming, and the regulations may use the words “Airplane Mode” to indicate a necessary state for a device (since that’s what many cellphones use). You wouldn’t want the flight attendant to ask you to put it in Airplane Mode, and then you say it doesn’t have one, so they make you turn it all the way off. šŸ™‚

Oh, and incidentally…have all the devices automatically shut off wireless unless it is needed after a certain amount of time. Go ahead and give us the option to say, “Always on” if people want to do that. Otherwise, it seems odd to go to do something like download a book, have it remind you to turn on the wireless…and then not have it remind you to turn it off afterwards.

Tweakquest #5: automatically sync when we go to the Cloud/archives

It’s so often true that, when I go to the Cloud or archives (depending on the type of device), it doesn’t show my recent purchases. Then, I have to do a sync. Just assume that if I’m going to the Cloud/archives, I want to see what’s actually in it. šŸ˜‰ I suppose there’s an argument that some people might want to check what was in the Cloud/archives before the last purchases without turning on the wireless, but I think that’s not very common. If the wireless was turned off, it would ask them if they want to turn it on…if that happens, go ahead and sync. That goes for when I click or tap on the Cloud/archives and the wireless is already on…just assume I want to sync.

Those are just a few thoughts from me. My guess is that they would all be easily achievable. There are some other bigger things I’d like to see (this earlier post has me polling my readers about some possible big things from Amazon, but these are just minor impedimenta.

What do you think? Would you disagree with any of these? Are there other small changes you’d like to see? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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


22 Responses to “Tweakquests #1”

  1. Joan Huston Says:

    I agree with all of those and would like to add a very important one for me. I’d like to be able to save the notes to Word or print them out. Maybe you’d have to plug it into the computer to do this, but that would be fine. How hard would that be, to let it do that?

  2. Western Reader Says:

    RE: Tweakquest #4: get “Airplane Mode” (wi-fi off) back where it is easy to find

    BUFO WROTE: For example, when I am reading a book on the Paperwhite, I have to tap to show the menu, tap the menu, tap Settings, then tap Airplane Mode. What would be best would be to be able to tap or click the wi-fi icon to go into Airplane Mode or not. Otherwise, put it at the first level of a menu.
    Yes! That’s my one big complaint with Paperwhite (I migrated there from the keyboard Kindle). It’s just a bit of a pain to have to go through the motions you describe, when it would be so much easier to have it in that upper right-hand corner. Thanks for thinking of this idea, Bufo.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Western!

      I suppose I “migrated” from the very first Kindle…to the second, the third, and so on. šŸ˜‰ My guess is that even peole who start with the Paperwhite find it odd; I don’t think this is just a case of not liking a change, I think it’s bumpy design. Maybe we are moving towards a point where nobody ever turns off wireless, but we aren’t there yet. šŸ™‚

  3. Phink Says:

    Shoot. I just hope the next Kindle resembles the KOBO. I have only watched You Tube videos about it and without ever touching one I say with confidence “KOBO is the best e-reader on the market but Amazon is the best e-book company.” I watched a 31 minute video yesterday on the mini, because it is on sale for $39 and the features are really nice. I love stats so ‘Reading Life’ is my favorite feature but even without that it is still a really nice e-reader. It has 25 different font sizes for one thing. But Amazon as a company blows them away from looking at their store so I will pass on the mini I guess.

  4. Streve Says:

    Here’s another vote for making it easier to turn wireless off on the Paperwhite. I just got a Paperwhite yesterday. My other Kindle is a keyboard. It took me almost an hour to figure out how to turn off wireless and was starting to think you couldn’t (conspiracy to keep the adds current) when I finally discovered Airplane mode. What can I say, I’m male so reading the manual is the last resort.

    My next request is to allow sub_collections. on the Kindle and to allow collections and sub_collections in the cloud (or at least collections).

    Another request, somehow to be able to visually mark a book as having been read.

    And yet another tweakquest: To download a books description when you purchase a book so that you do not need to have access to wireless to get the description and to speed up access to the description even when you have wireless activated.

    And still another: I’ve been a member a Audible for years, so suddenly over a thousand audible files appeared in my cloud for my Kindle keyboard. This makes it unfeasible to browse my books in the cloud on the Kindle. Somehow give the ability to hide Audible files from the cloud.

    All in all, more thought needs to be given to file management issues on the reflective Kindles.

    Just thought of another one: on the Kindle Keyboard the amount of space available is displayed in the menubar when you select the menu. On the Paperwhite it is a multistep nonintuitive process to get this information. Since the Paperwhite has half the storage of a Keyboard I think the info should be more accessible.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Steve!

      Having Collections in the Cloud/archives would be a monumental change, and would require a real change in thinking on the part of Amazon and of customers…but I’ve been saying for years that I think that shift is important and will happen. If we get that this year, and we might, that would be the sort of big service change I’ve thought might happen this year (as opposed to revolutionary EBR hardware).

      Why is it so big?

      Right now, the Cloud/archives doesn’t really differentiate which books belong to which device…because they don’t. The easiest way to think about it is that the books belong to the account. The Collections are stored locally (although accessible for copying to another device through the central storage). Remember that there is no limit to the number of devices you could have registered to your account. So, let’s say there are 100 devices, each with their own Collections…and many of them overlap. For example, there might be fifty “TBR” (To Be Read) Collections, with different books in each one. That requires a very, very different structure to show those at the Manage Your Kindle page.

      Alternatively, you could allow for creation of Collections that just lived in the Cloud/archives (did not duplicate the ones on devices). That could work, but of course, there could be arguments about it amongst all the account users. I’ve suggested before that having automatic Collections based on the categories at Amazon (or on Library of Congress data, but not all e-books have that) could be done. The Cloud might be a good place for that.

      Subcollections, even though Collections are really more like tagging than folders (where a hierarchical geography is easier), should be more achievable and is commonly requested.

      I think the problem with downloading the book descriptions is that they change, and sometimes in significant ways. I’ve updated at least one of my books more than eight times, and changed the description to reflect that. However, this is again a frequent request, and Amazon could do it…even though it would either be out of date or require more battery charge usage to keep updating it. Some people keep thousands of books on their Kindles, and that might be a noticeable impact.

      Hiding the Audible books and a simple “read” mark on the device both make a lot of sense to me. šŸ™‚

      As to the space available, the question for me is…what do people do with that information, and which people do it? It may be reasonable that displaying that information is more of a negative than not displaying it, when looking at the population. It was different when we could only put 200 books on our first generation Kindles…we had to be quite aware of memory management. Now, I think that’s less true…I wonder how many people actually bump up against the memory size?

      Hm…here’s an idea: unless marked as “store locally”, all books get removed from the device if they haven’t been touched in, oh, six weeks. That would really make most Kindles run more smoothly, in my opinion. I know a lot of people like having thousands of books on there…maybe it could be a changeable setting. I would certainly pick the default of “remove from device after six weeks of non-use to free memory and improve performance”, although some of my readers probably wouldn’t.

      • Steve Says:

        Any organization of the Cloud/archive would have to exist on the device. Each device may have a different organization of the cloud. I’m certainly not an expert, but programming wise you would just need to to have a linked list that is stored within the device. Indeed, it would be best if you can have both device and cloud books in the same collection.

        The only reason that I keep a large number of books on my Kindle is to maintain some sort of file structure and to keep track of which books and articles I’ve read. But now with over a thousand audible files and about the same number of Kindle books it is impossible to browse the cloud/archive to pick the next book to read. At least the Audile files don’t show up on the Paperwhite.

        I’m reading through McBain’s 87th Precinct books – slowly, one a month or so. To keep track I’ve been keeping an Excel file and pdf of same on my Kindle. Every few weeks I update the file. It would really be a pain, but I’m tempted to start doing the same for the whole collection as the organization ability on the Kindle is so weak.

        When I listen to a series on Audible I change the name of the files to reflect the order to listen to them and to indicate read/unread status. I tend to strip read authors. Guess I’m really spoiled by iTunes ability to organize.

        Wish I could somehow organize my Kindle books on my computer and sync that organization to the kindle.

        I’m fine with unused books being “relocated” to the cloud as long as I can keep my collections in place.

        I have so many books and pdf reference files on my Kindle keyboard that I had to cull and carefully pick what to move over to my Kindle Paperwhite – 4 G vs 2 G storage, thus my request to make it easy to determine remaining storage space.

        I see no need to keep updating a books description on the Kindle. The description at the time of purchase or at such time a book is updated on the Kindle would be fine for me.

        Many thanks for your thoughtful response to my wish list.
        I love the new word, tweakquest. Hope it makes into the “dictionary”.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Steve!

        Hmm…I’ve never thought of having the Cloud/archive Collections be only local…I’ve always thought of having them be stored centrally.

        There would be one really key factor in doing what you suggest: are the titles that show on the Cloud/in the Archived Items list parsed as individual records, or is it treated as one document with perhaps thousands of elements within it? If it’s the former, what you suggest would be easy…if it’s the latter, it requires another layer of processing.

        If you are Prime member, you know you can be reading those McBain books for no additional cost by borrowing them from the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), right?

        Your wish to to organize your Kindle books on your computer has been granted…poof! šŸ™‚ There are three ways that come to mind right away. You can download Kindle for PC, and create your Collections there…then import them to the Kindle. That’s still a bit clunky…you can still only do one title at a time.

        You can use the software I describe here:

        My intuition is that your preference might be Calibre, which many people use:

  5. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’d like some way to manage the huge file that contains the backup of all my highlights, notes, bookmarks, clippings, etc. There seems to be only one file that just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger! I know I can download it to my computer and cut and paste, but it’s getting really hard to find what I’m looking for!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I may want to find out from my readers how many people use those features in a way that sends them to the central file…and how

      does or doesn’t help in the management.

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I just wish that when I clip an article from a blog, instead of lumping it in the already bulging file, it would instead appear as a single text document in Kindle format, but I suppose that would be a lot easier to wish for than to bring into reality.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        I like it. šŸ™‚ And remember…wishing doesn’t make it so, but it’s often the first step. šŸ˜‰

  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I agree with your “tweaks” . I would add one additional minor one, a moderate feature addition, and a “big” new product announcement (Which my manufacturing sources say is unlikely to happen).

    On my Windows Phone in the kindle reader app when I go to list out the books on my device or in the archive, it only gives me the ability to sort on author or title. They really need to add the ability to sort by date of purchase (most recently purchased first) — that is virtually the only sort order that I ever use on my physical kindles.

    I don’t know whether this omission is only on the Windows Phone kindle app, or whether it’s endemic to all of them. While we are on the subject of sorting, I wish they would sort consistently. On author searches sometimes they use the first name, sometimes they use the last name. There are similar inconsistencies on title sorts as well.

    I wish they would add collections to the kindle fires or expose the collections mechanism so third parties can write decent collections apps. The existing collections apps for the fires are badly crippled because they have no access to the fire internals at an appropriate level,.

    The big one: announce a new kindle device based on their recently acquired Liquavista technology. They haven’t really had time to ramp up manufacturing here, but Samsung owned Liquavista for almost two years and perhaps they have the manufacturing capabilities built as a result of that ownership, and they could build a Liquavista device under contract for Amazon.

    Liquavista, is a reflective screen technology that is low power, bright, low cost, and supports full motion video.

    One last thing: I have been looking into Whispercast a bit. From what I can see, it supports administration of multiple kindles on a single account (or multiple kindles on many accounts at a single organization/location). It appears (from what I gather from the documentation) it only supports distribution of content to multiple kindles. There’s no information on querying devices to see what content they contain, or to remove content (as would be necessary at the end of a school term, or when an employee leaves). To be successful Whispercast will absolutely need the ability to query whats on a kindle, and to remove content from selected kindles..

    Anyhow, that’s my wishlist for 2013 (:grin)

  7. Tuxgirl Says:

    Another option for the wireless would be to allow the user to set the poll frequency (although they would want to name it something more intuitive). So, I could tell it I only want it to check for new items automatically every hour, or if I want things to show up sooner, I could say every 5 minutes. There could also be an option to only sync when manually synced.

    That could significantly decrease the battery drain from wireless without the user needing to manually turn wifi on/off. (With that, you could also set how often it scans for new networks, maybe? Or maybe it would only look for a network either when a sync time arrives, or when the user tries to do something requiring the network.

  8. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I thought of another tweak. For those Kindles that connect through both 3G and wi-fi, I wish there was some way to tell the Kindle not to look for a wi-fi network when the 3G connection is lost. I don’t have a wi-fi connection. When my Kindle Keyboard drops the 3G connection, which happens so often it’s annoying, it frequently hones in on my neighbor’s wi-fi networks. They must have strong networks because our houses are all on acre lots! One of the neighbor’s networks is locked and the other isn’t, but I wouldn’t try to hook onto them either way. It’s frustrating to close out of the wi-fi page and try to get a fresh 3G connection.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I can certainly see situations where people might want to lock themselves out of one type of connectivity…that’s a good tweakquest! šŸ˜‰

  9. Man in the Middle Says:

    The main reason I still use my Kindle 3 (keyboard), rather than upgrading to a Paperwhite is text to speech. I won’t give that up, and the Paperwhite doesn’t have it.

    In addition, I have the 3G version of the Kindle3, which allows me to use it for emergency Internet access anywhere in the world, for getting Gmail or visiting any desired Web site. The Paperwhite does not offer that capability at any price, thus another reason not to upgrade.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      Yep…my main reader has to have text-to-speech…I use it for hours a week. Fortunately, my Fire has nicer TTS than the Kindle Keyboard did, and I can use that in the car.

      I expect we’ll see a frontlit device with TTS, perhaps this year.

  10. Judy Miller Says:

    My Number One Tweak Request is for an easier way to delete books from my Cloud. I’m on my fourth and fifth Kindle now (Paperwhite and Fire HD 8.9) and have accumulated over 600 books down through the years by early binging on free and bargain books. Most likely I’ve read over half of my collection, but would like to keep only about 50 of those. The rest can/should go away, but the present method of deleting one at a time and suffering through a screen redraw/relocation is impossible for that number of books. Trying to categorize is another humongous task. Please, please, please Kindle, give me an alternative method!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Julie!

      I agree with you that there could be a better way to work with the books there (at I understand that the non-Fire Kindles in particular can be overwhelmed my a lot of books coming to them at one time, but deleting them from the archives shouldn’t be a problem.

      I’m curious, though: why do you want to delete them? Personally, I never do that. They aren’t taking up any memory on my devices when they are in the archives/Cloud. It’s hard for me to predict who might be on my account in the future (even, potentially, generations from now), or what they might want to read. I never threw away books I had read, and that’s the equivalent in getting rid of them from the archives/Cloud. If you do that, and anybody who is now or may be on your account in the future wants to read it, they’d have to license it again (if it was still available).

      I know many people want to do what you are describing, and my guess is that it may be to reduce the “noise to signal” ratio…but I am genuinely curious. What’s the motivation for you to surrender the license you chose to get for the book (paid for or free)?

      As to categorizing, tell me a bit more…where are you wanting to do that, and what capabilities is it lacking? I’d love to see some more organization (I organize things just for fun) ;), but I like to know what is driving people.


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