Hands on with the new EBR features
I recently wrote about the 5.61 update for the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…non-Fires). It brings some significant new features to the
I’ve now manually updated our PW2 (it had not yet updated), and can give you some more information about these features.
First, after doing the manual update by getting the file from
http://www.amazon.com/kindlesoftwareupdates (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
the first thing I noticed was a message box on the home page pointing to the filter choice
“We’ve added new ways to see and use collections on your Kindle and in the Cloud. Tap on the filter above and choose Collections to see them.”
Before I did that, another box appeared:
“Restart Required: An update if available for the following fonts: (Chinese). Do you want to restart now to complete the update?”
I had a choice of “Later” or “Now” and went with “Later”, so I could explore a bit more.
Changing the filter to Collections, I got another message box. I must say, kudos to Amazon for providing information to the user about changes! They haven’t always done that effectively in the past. I’m glad I’m doing this before my Significant Other is awake, though. This is the device my SO uses, and all of these message boxes, which I really like, would be seen as intrusions.
The new box said:
“All your collections are synced to the Cloud.
Tap Cloud in the upper left to see all collections, including those created on other Kindle devices and apps.
Tap On Device to see collections that are on this Kindle.
Tap and hold a collection to add or remove it from this Kindle.
When in Cloud view, collections on this Kindle are marked with a star.”
Here’s a nice switch, which people have wanted! When I’m on “On Device”, the count is the number of items from the Collection on this device (actually on this Kindle). When I’m on Cloud, the count is all of the items in that Collection, whether or not they are on this device.
Also, when I’m on On Device, it mentions that there are 5 more (in my case) Collections in the Cloud.
When I open a Collection on the On Device, it only displays the items which are on the device, and then tells me how many more are in the Cloud. Future improvement: I’d like to be able to tap that count and be taken to the Collection in the Cloud. As it is now, I tap on Cloud and that shows me that Collection in the Cloud. Definitely not a biggie…what I call a “tweekquest”.
I consider this a considerable improvement.
Also on the home page was a document telling me that “Your Kindle is updated!”
This mentions the features I mentioned in that previous post (I’ll go through them in this one), plus a couple of other things.
- Get Next in Series: again, something people have wanted. When you are done reading a book in a series, you can easily get the next book in that series
- They also mention the Collections view change, and that “Newspapers and magazines are now automatically organized by name to make it easier to find and access back issues in your Collections”
- Russian and Dutch are now supported as interface languages. Amazon just opened a Dutch Kindle store, so that makes sense
- Kindle Unlimited is mentioned, including the free 30 day trial
- You can also download the “Kindle Paperwhite User’s Guide 3rd Edition” from the Cloud
Okay, the next thing is for me to check the Settings menu.
There is now a Registration and Household section, to accommodate Family Library.
Reading Options lets you set “Language Learning” options. Word Wise, which will display definitions of “unfamiliar words” is off by default. I’m going to turn that on and test it, although my SO will want it off…so don’t let me forget to reset it. ;) You also have an option there to turn off the crowdsourcing part of “Show Multiple-Choice Hints”. When that’s on, you can contribute to the helping Amazon get the most useful definitions for Word Wise. Yes, it is now a learning system…
My SO was reading
Top Secret Twenty-One: A Stephanie Plum Novel (at AmazonSmile*)
which I’ve already finished. I checked the Amazon product page: yes, Word Wise is enabled.
It took a few seconds for it to appear, but there they were: definitions of words in superscript.
There was also a box saying “Tap on Word Wise and use the slider to adjust how many hints you see.”
With the default, it defined the following:
- neatly: not dirty
- laundry: clothes that have to be washed
- hanger: curved object to hang clothes
- cleaners: one who tends to a mess
- queens: a woman who rules a country
Yes, my SO would want to throw the Kindle across the room at this point. ;)
Tapping “cleaners” (I wouldn’t really define it this way”, I got a definition (including the part of speech), a way to mark if that was useful or not, and “Other Meanings”. Other meanings included:
- substance used for washing
- a device used for washing
- shop to remove dirt from clothes
Each choice had an arrow, and I tapped the third one (that matches the context). I could then recommend that they “Use This Meaning”, which I did.
The new choice of definition now appeared in the book…and I assume, that will be part of an aggregating algorithm for other readers of this same book. That doesn’t mean that just because I changed it changes for everybody, but I would assume if a certain percentage or number of people pick a choice, it becomes the default.
Clicking on Word Wise in my bottom right to get to the slider, it had defaulted to the highest possibility of “More Hints”. Sliding it down to the bottom out of five, they all disappeared. On the second level, only the definition for hanger remained. On the middle level, it was the definitions for neatly, laundry, hanger, and cleaners. The fourth level (in this case) didn’t make any difference.
I don’t see a way at
Manage Your Kindle (now called Manage Your Content and Devices)
to tell which ones were enabled.
Okay, turning it off…thanks for the reminder. ;)
I’m going to hold off on writing about the Family Library in this post…I still need to explore that more. That’s the one that lets you share books across accounts…certain books, with restrictions about set up.
This is nicely improved!
X-Ray is a feature (not available on all books) which shows you information about what is in the book…characters, terms, and so on.
They now have a “timeline” feature. That gives you a much better sense of where you are in the book than page numbers ever did.
There are “clips” throughout the timeline (short snippets), and it’s much easier to get to information about people. For example, when I tapped Joe Morelli in the X-Ray, I could see where Morelli appeared in the book (up to the point to which my SO had read), and tap the dots to see a clip of that spot. It was smart enough to recognize that “Joe” mean “Joe Morelli”, which impressed me. Serious homework helper! I cold toggle between “Notable Clips” and “All Mentions”…the latter went past what had been indicated as having been read so far.
There was a settings gear which also let me toggle between showing unread clips and not…great for the spoiler averse, like me.
Yes, I would also consider this to be a big improvement! The image browser wasn’t useful in this book, but would be in others. I could particularly see it where I’ve listened to parts of the book with text-to-speech (which is common for me), but I might want to look at the images later.
Deeper Goodreads Integration
From within the book, I could tap the “g” for Goodreads (by first tapping towards the top middle of the book to display the toolbar).
From here, I could update my status, see ratings from my Goodreads friends (I liked it the least out of the people I saw…I like the series, but wasn’t crazy about this one).
I could also go right from there to read my general Goodreads Updates (not limited to this book).
They have now made this really valuable, for Goodreads users.
From the homescreen, when I tap the g, I can see the updates…and conveniently, tap something that I see a friend has done something with, and bounce from there to the store. That would then let me purchase books, or add them to a wish list or try a sample. Again, nice!
When I “long-pressed” Top Secret Twenty-One on the homescreen, I got a choice to View on Goodreads and Add to Goodreads Shelf.
Amazon has finally figured out how to effectively leverage their purchase of Goodreads.
I searched for Doc Savage from the homescreen, first letting it search everywhere. By default, it showed me books I owned at the top, then offered to search the store. Actually, it offered to search either for e-books or, I think, any books (I don’t think it was searching non-book items). Bam! It lets me refine by Kindle Unlimited! That’s a very nice touch.
About This Book
I didn’t see something right away about “About This Book” from the homescreen, where I thought it might be particularly useful (before I opened it). After I opened it, it was in the menu for the book. Oh, it also says that it “…shows you additional information about the book the first time you open it”, so I assume it pops up. You can, however, turn that off in the Settings (which are in the About This Book menu choice from within the book, and in general Settings menu under Reading Options – Notes & About This Book. That’s on by default: I’ve turned it off for my SO (again, my SO will want pure reading, no friction).
I think many people will like it, though: it shows you where the book is in the series, has a link to the previous book, gives you a bit about the author and lets you sign up for e-mails for new releases, and gives you links to more books by the author.
My feelings about this update overall? It’s one of the best ones we’ve had. Amazon is now making things works which people have wanted, which is a sign both of their inventiveness and their customer focus. I haven’t checked out the Family Library yet, but ignoring means it hasn’t changed anything in the reading experience…so it doesn’t hurt. I like that they are putting settings right within activities, and letting you turn off features.
Unless the update comes to the PW1, which is possible, I would say there is now a good reason to upgrade.
What do you think? Do you have questions? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.
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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.