Updates bring new features to some Kindle EBRs

Updates bring new features to some Kindle EBRs

Amazon had told us they were coming, and in this

press release

they announce that new features are available for the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…non-Fires).

They will come automatically over-the-air, or you can get them by going to

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

If you do it manually, be careful to pick the update for the right model of Kindle.

Here are the specific models they have announced have the new updates. This doesn’t mean that older models absolutely won’t get them, although that is possible.

What are these new features?

  • Word Wise (at AmazonSmile*) (click links for screenshots): definitions of “difficult words” automatically appear above the words. You can then tap to see more information. You can control how many of these appear by using a slider. This may be particularly useful for children and for those learning English as a second language. It’s not going to be available on every book, but some popular books already have it. I’m sure you’ll be able to turn this off, in case you find it vexatious (annoying) 😉
  • Family Library (at AmazonSmile*): this allows you to share books from one account with a set number of people from another account. This will also only be certain books. This is a huge change, and we’ll have to see how the implementation is
  • Kindle FreeTime Unlimited: this is the subser (“subscription service”. You pay $2.99 a month, and your child gets access to curated content at no additional cost
  • Expanded X-Ray for Books (at AmazonSmile*): X-Ray gives you information about the characters, terms, concepts and more in the book which you are reading. Now you’ll be able to browse the pictures in a book and the meaningful passages as well.
  • Deeper Goodreads Integration (at AmazonSmile*): Amazon owns the immensely popular social reading site. Looking at this, it appears that this will have more of an impact when you are in the Goodreads app/function on your device than when you are reading a book. For example, it doesn’t appear to me that your reading status will automatically update as you read the book (I’d like to see that feature…with an ability to mask it, of course), but you will be able to buy books (not quite yet) directly from the Goodreads function
  • Enhanced Search (at AmazonSmile*): when you search for something, you’ll get results from your library, from the Kindle Store, and from Goodreads
  • About This Book (at AmazonSmile*): it’s unclear to me yet if this will work when you aren’t connected to wi-fi, but it definitely has some things people have talked about since the Kindle 1 in 2007. It will give you series information, author information (and in the screenshot, it shows a way to sign up to be notified when new books by that author are released), “mentioned in this book” (that looks like other books), and contrary to what I said above 🙂 gives you a way to at least update Goodreads with the fact that you are currently reading it

I’ll install this on our Paperwhite 2 and test it out.

One interesting note: the links above for each of the features also include links to the Fires. That doesn’t necessarily mean that every Fire gets every one of these features, or even that any of them do…they may just link to all products on the “Press Resource” pages.

Note that this is Amazon, as they often do, giving us more at no additional cost…thanks, Amazon!

If you’ve checked these out or have questions about them, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this page. Which of these do you think you’ll use? What do you wish they had done which they didn’t (I figured I’d ask the question before people volunteered, as they always do 😉 )?


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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


23 Responses to “Updates bring new features to some Kindle EBRs”

  1. Tom Semple Says:

    Have you checked out Manage Your Content and Devices? It now has Add to Family Library/Delete from Family Library buttons. I had previously added my wife’s account as a household profile on my Fire HD6, as well as a ‘Guest’ account (born 1Jan1900). From MYCAD, I can add books to to Guest’s library, but not (yet) to my wife’s library (it says I need to enable sharing on ‘the device’, in this case my Fire HD6). But the Fire tablets seem to be one update short of supporting this feature (the screenshot on the Help page is different than what is now on Fire HD6/HD7/HDX8.9). With a library of any size, it is very onerous to add books to a ‘child’ account on the Fire itself, so the MYCAD enhancement is pretty much a requirement to set up child accounts.

    The new Fires already have most of the features that are being delivered to the new Kindles, except for WordWise and Family Library. I hope they will eventually update PW1 and last year’s Fire HD with some of this, but am not holding my breath.

  2. hsextant Says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the update. I am updating my Paperwhite 2 now.

    I tried to update my Fire HDX when you posted the other day, but I could not find the folder that Amazon stated in the instructions. I checked with the Android app needed for downloading and with an internal app in the Fire. The specified folder was not there. I decided to quit while I was still ahead and let the update come wirelessly when ever.

    The Paperwhite finished updating. One caution, immediately after updating the Kindle operates a bit funky. It ignores screen taps, X ray don’t work, the screens flash 3 or 4 times. Give it a few minutes to straighten out. It took about 3 to 5 minutes after the update completed, but everything appears to be working normally now.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, hsextant!

      Did you manually update, or did it come over the air?

      • hsextant Says:

        I manually updated it. I am guessing that it took about 10 minutes altogether. Like I said above, be patient when it first comes back alive after doing the update. It behaves a bit funky for a few minutes. It is probably sorting things out. That lasted a few minutes and then it operated fine.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, hsextant!

        The manual update hasn’t been working for me. I need to look more into that, because I’m doing what I’ve done successfully for years. I have a lead as to what the issue may be.

      • hsextant Says:

        I attempted it the first time and I clicked on the downloaded file thinking it was supposed to open. I seem to have a memory of doing that before. It created a new file name with a .cpgz extension. I stored that in the kindle and the update command in the Menu remained dark. So I tried it again, deleted the .cpgz file from the Kindle and transferred the downloaded file with the .bin file extension and it worked fine. I did this with a iMac computer. So don’t click on the downloaded file, just transfer the downloaded .bin file, and make sure you are not putting the file into a sub-folder. Don’t forget to properly eject the Kindle device from your computer after transferring the file.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, hsextant!

        I appreciate the advice. I haven’t been able to try opening the .bin file, because it has been disappearing (after the transfer is complete). 🙂 I’ve done this many times before, and I’m confident I’m doing it properly. I’m checking with Amazon.

      • hsextant Says:

        You don’t want to open the file. Just transfer it to the Kindle directory. Eject your kindle from the computer. Then go to settings, menu, upgrade.

        BTW my HDX upgraded itself this afternoon. Not sure I like it yet.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, hsextant!

        Yes, that’s correct. You put the file in the Kindle root directory. The Kindle should then recognize the file, and the Update Your Kindle option should then become enabled.

        I think I confused you when I said, “I haven’t been able to try opening the .bin file, because it has been disappearing…” I was kidding, because you said you had tried opening it. 🙂 I wouldn’t have wanted to try to open it, but even if I had wanted to so it, was disappearing. I was checking the contents of the Kindle through Windows Explorer on my PC…that’s how I knew it was gone.

        I’m leaving it connected to wi-fi for now, and hopefully, I’ll figure out this atypical glitch.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Embarrassingly, the problem is solved.

        I’d forgotten my Significant Other is using our PW2, and was foolishly trying to update our PW1. The update is not available for the PW1, and even if it was, it wouldn’t have been the bin file I was trying.

        I even warn my readers to check, and I didn’t do it.

        Oh, well, our PW2 is updating as I write this…I’ll do a post on the new features.

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Apparently I won’t have to worry about any of these features since it appears they won’t be available to those of us with K3 or earlier models. The only one that appeals to me is “About this book.” I find the “Word Wise” to be somewhat condescending. What criteria does it use to decide which words are “difficult.” Is there some sort of preference where the user can set their vocabulary levels? I love words, and one of the best features of the Kindle is the ability to look up words that I don’t already have in my lexicon, but I think it should be up to me to decide when I need help. I also don’t like the idea of enhanced search. If I’m searching for an author in my archived items, I don’t want my Kindle searching the Kindle store or Goodreads.

    I had considered giving the Voyage a try, but if it’s going to come with all these other unnecessary, unwanted intrustions into the reading experience, I’ll just stick with my old K3 until the batteries die, and then I’ll be without books once again, the way I was before the Kindle 1 brought reading back into my life.

    • hsextant Says:

      I haven’t played with the updated version fully yet, but I believe all the changes are optional. I don’t think you are stuck with using Word wise and the new search still offers choices and appears to put the results into different result boxes. I am not sure how the K3 operates, but I have a K2 which I love and other than the touch screen controls, I have found the PaperWhite to be a much nicer Kindle to use.

      Don’t forget Amazon gives you 30 days to try a new model…try it, if you don’t like it then send it back. With the various free applications for computers, cell phones, and tablets you should be able to find some way to access your books when your K3 dies if you find the Kindle e-reader to be unacceptable.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, hsextant!

        Except for the elimination of text-to-speech, I’ve generally found the newer top of the line Kindles to be better over time. I’m rethinking my decision not to buy a Kindle Voyage: we really should have another Kindle as a guest Kindle, and people are asking about it. I’ll probably decide shortly.

    • hsextant Says:

      Ok I tried Word Wise. First you have to find a book in which it is enabled. I used The Martian. First option is to turn it on or off. You do that in the menu. If you turn it off your Kindle behaves just like any Kindle. Second option is to click a check box to allow multiple choice hints which only operates if you engage Word Wise.

      So with my font size setting in the middle setting, I turned on Word Wise and paged through until I found a page with a number of hints.

      In the bottom right hand corner of the screen it states Word Wise. When you tap on that, a slider appears that increase or decreases the number of words chosen by (I assume) the complexity. So here is the passage I am looking at:

      “Inside Vogel’s bomb, the full current of the ship’s internal lighting system flowed through a thin, exposed wire. It quickly reached the ignition temperature of the sugar. What would have been a minor fizzle in Earth’s atmosphere became an uncontrolled conflagration in the container’s pure oxygen environment. In under one hundred milliseconds, the massive combustion pressure burst the container, and the resulting explosion ripped the airlock door to shreds.”

      Weir, Andy (2014-02-11). The Martian: A Novel (p. 362). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

      With the slider set to maximum and the multiple choice hints checked, here are the words that got hints…then the hint.

      ignition…a system used to start an engine

      uncontrolled…happening without being slowed

      conflagration…a large fire of destruction

      container’s…a object that holds things

      milliseconds…one thousandth of a second

      combustion…process of burning a thing

      explosion…a violent burst of energy

      airlock…a chamber that provides access

      shreds…to cut into strips.

      There were no words with a multiple hint on this page, which is denoted with a little down arrow next to the displayed hint.

      Now setting the slider to the middle on the same passage, container and explosion were eliminated from the list.

      Setting the slider all the way to the left further eliminated combustion and shreds.

      Now what is of interest further is that if you do a quick tap on a hinted word you get a box that states Definition form Merriam-Webster and then gives a quick definition. Then there is the question Was helpful? If you answer yes, it says thanks for your feed back. If you answer no, then it asks you to tell them more about the problem.
      I already know this word. The hint uses hard words. The meaning is wrong.

      I am somewhat surprised by this feedback.

      If you do a long tap on the word, the normal Kindle dictionary opens.

      If you do not want to see the hints, tap the screen at the top to see the menu button, press the menu button, press Word Wise, and turn press the off button. Voila, standard Kindle operation.

      I don’t see myself using this feature much. But for a younger reader or some one learning English it could be helpful.

      Hope this proves helpful.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, hsextant!

        Love the field report! I really appreciate it when people take the time and energy to do these to help other people. You’ve done a good detailed description and test.

      • Tom Semple Says:

        I wonder if WordWise works for languages other than English? Could be helpful for learning..

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        Amazon specifically mentions English in the press release…it would be fun for other languages, but I wouldn’t expect that soon.

  4. Phink Says:

    I got my update and so far no ‘word wise’ showing up in the books. In the settings it’s clearly on but nothing in my current book or the book I just finished. I think perhaps only certain books have the ability which seems strange. I don’t think I would like it. I think it’d get on my nerves but I wanted to test it anyway.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Yes, that’s right…it’s only for some books. I mentioned that in my post:

      “It’s not going to be available on every book, but some popular books already have it.”

      I don’t find that strange: it requires the ability be added to the book in some way, not unlike “real page numbers” when we first got those. In fact, I would guess there is another ancillary file added to your device for the books which have it.

      Not quite sure how they are doing it: I have to assume that the same word gets the same explanation in all books, so it is stored centrally in some way. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if each book has to be “mapped” for the locations to display the definitions…that the book would be indexed for definable words.

  5. Phink Says:

    I should have read Hsextant’s review before posting LOL. That explains it all.

  6. Hands on with the new EBR features | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] recently wrote about the 5.61 update for the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…non-Fires). It brings some […]

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