Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: March 22 2016 update deadline edition

March 22, 2016

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: March 22 2016 update deadline edition

Q. Amazon really wants me to update my Kindle! I’ve gotten e-mails, a postcard through the mail, even a phone call. I’ve had my Kindle for more than five years, and there have been a bunch of updates, but they’ve never done this before. What’s up?

A. This is a different kind of an update. Updates in the past have generally either been “bug fixes”, where you don’t really see a change but things work better, or they bring new features, like Cloud Collections or the Family Library. In some cases, features have gone away on the Kindle with an update, but what’s happening here is that something external is changing and your Kindle needs to be up to date to work with it. If your Kindle isn’t up to date, it’s not going to be able to connect wirelessly with Amazon. That means you won’t be able to shop from your Kindle itself, or download books from it that you’ve already bought on your account. Amazon doesn’t want to deal with upset customers who wake up in the morning, try to get something perhaps for a morning commute or worse, for a vacation, and not be able to connect without knowing why. That’s bad for the relationship between Amazon and the customer, and it’s expensive to have them call Customer Service to get it fixed.

Q. Why is Amazon changing that connection thing? Is it just to make me buy a new Kindle? I’ve heard it’s so that I have to see ads and recommendations on my homescreen…I like things the way they are.

A. Amazon isn’t the one changing it. They just need to make sure their devices can use an internet protocol which is changing. While they would probably be happy if you bought a new Kindle and if you saw their recommendations, this change doesn’t mean you have to do it either. The vast majority of devices are probably already updated. When your device connects to Amazon’s servers, it generally automatically updates. Even if you have an older device, it’s likely to have updated to a compatible version some time ago. If it hasn’t, turn on the wireless and it should update, although that doesn’t necessarily happen right away (it can sometimes be days, but that’s usually when they are rolling out a new release, not the case this time). You can also download the update to your computer and transfer it to your device using a USB cable. You can see all the information about it here: Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) including a link to get the software to update it. In terms of the ads and recommendations, it’s important to note that there isn’t simply an update that makes your Kindle compatible: you are updating the newest version of the operating system, and on some devices, that does come with a new homescreen view. The view has covers and “reading lists”. However, although it’s a bit buried, you can go back to the style that just has the book listings without the covers: Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options – Personalize Your Kindle – Advanced Options – Home Screen View – (turn off) Home Screen View: Display recommended content from store and enable learning lists.

Q. So, does the new update give me those Special Offers I hear about?

A. No, there’s no connection with that. If you aren’t subscribed to Special Offers, you still won’t be. If you are subscribed you still will be.

Q. What happens if I don’t update? Is my Kindle a brick?

A. No. You can still use it. You just won’t be able to connect to Amazon wirelessly with it. It’s possible to download books, either new purchases or from your Archive/Cloud, to your computer and transfer via USB cable. However, your Kindle will presumably not be able to get future updates.

Q. Does the update cost anything?

A. No. Like all Kindle updates so far, it’s free.

Q. I bought the Kindle and I bought the books. How can Amazon take them away from me? Don’t I own them?

A. Yes, you own the device and you bought licenses for the books. This doesn’t impact the books: you could read them on other devices on your account which have been updated, or in free Kindle reading apps. Your device will continue to do what it has done before…it’s just that a step between that device and Amazon servers will no longer work.

Q. You are saying this isn’t Amazon doing this: does that mean I’ll have to update non-Amazon devices I own?

A. If they aren’t compatible with the new protocol (which I believe goes into effect January 1st, 2017…Amazon is just getting a bit ahead on this to give people a chance to update before it’s suddenly necessary), then either you’ll have to update them or they won’t connect. Hopefully, other companies will have updates available, but it’s possible you have devices where that won’t be the case (some companies have gotten out of the EBR…E-Book Reader business). Early Kindles have lasted an unusually long time for some people, compared to some types of devices. There have been Kindles in use for more than eight years. That probably means that more people may be using, soon to be unable to connect Kindles, than, say, tablets.

Q. I guess this might be a good time to update to a new model of Kindle. Can I get a trade-in?

A. There is a trade-in program at (but it’s not exactly by) Amazon. Amazon Trade-In Program (at AmazonSmile*).

Q. Okay, I’ll guess I’ll do the update. How do I know if my device needs it?

A. Go to this page: Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It lists models, and what the necessary version of the software is so you can see if you already have it. If you don’t, you can go from that page to where to get it. You could also just turn your wireless on and leave your device on for a day or so to see if it updates. You can plug it in when you aren’t reading it so it has enough power.

Q. What if I need more help?

A. Feel free to ask me (and my readers) by commenting on this post. You can also contact Amazon through http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*). I usually have them call me (that normally happens in seconds, and I’m speaking to someone with in a minute, and I have generally found them friendly and helpful.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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! :)

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.

Upcoming deadlines

March 15, 2016

Upcoming  deadlines

“Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes…”
–Changes by David Bowie

There are a few dates happening soon that mark changes around Kindles and e-books, so I thought I would round them up here and what (if anything) you need to do about it.

Tuesday, March 15th: B&N shuts down the NOOK bookstore

Barnes & Noble is shutting down the UK (I have readers around the world) NOOK bookstore.

After that, you won’t be able to buy NOOK books in the UK through their store, or through the Android app, or through your devices.

You’ll have until the end of May 2016  to migrate the books you’ve already bought.

For more information:

Meanwhile, at Barnes & Noble: NOOK books out of UK, financials are “in the groove” (of vinyl records)

Wednesday, March 16th: Shelfari transitions to Goodreads

If you’ve been a Shelfari user, Amazon has decided to merge it with Goodreads (Amazon owns both).

If you do have a Shelfari account, and you want to keep the data, you need to sign in and then chose to transition to Goodreads and/or download your information in a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file, which can be imported into Excel and other spreadsheets.

For more information, see

Amazon shutters Shelfari

Tuesday, March 22nd: update needed to older Kindles to access Amazon wirelessly

Amazon has announced a

Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This only affects some older Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers…not the Fire tablets) which have not been updated.

If you don’t update your device, you won’t be able to get to Amazon wirelessly on that Kindle: no shopping in the store; no downloading from your Cloud/archives; I assume no blog/magazine/newspaper delivery.

One of my regular readers and commenters, Edward Boyhan, suggested that this is in preparation for the obsoleting of the SHA1 (Secure Hash Algorithm) algorithm in 2017…that’s the techie stuff, but that makes sense to me, also based on what Amazon has said.

An important note: when you do the update which my best guess is technically necessary, you’ll get all the rest of the update, too.🙂 That includes a new homescreen, which has a lot of recommendations on it…not everybody likes that.

Fortunately, although it’s pretty buried, you can go back to the old look:

Home – Menu – Settings – Device Options – Personalize Your Kindle – Advanced Options – Home Screen View – (turn off) Home Screen View: Display recommended content from store and enable learning lists

I’m waiting for confirmation from Amazon, but I would expect that you could still buy books for the device or download from the Cloud/archives…by downloading to your computer, and then transferring using a USB cable.

For more information, including a link to which devices are affected, see

Update your Kindle or lose access on it to your Cloud, the store, and other Kindle services

Have any questions? Any other deadlines (Kindle/e-book/Amazon related…I know there are others)😉 for my readers and me? Feel free to let us know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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!  

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.

I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround!

February 12, 2016

I updated a Kindle Paperwhite…and it broke it…and then I found a workaround!

Well.

I recently wrote about a

Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February

The Kindle Paperwhite I use is an older generation, and wasn’t eligible for this update.

My Significant Other had a 6th generation Kindle Paperwhite which was eligible.

My SO hadn’t used it in some time. I think unexpectedly, my SO now reads on a now discontinue Kindle Fire HDX…which is also a daily device of mine (and one I like very much).

So, I found it, charged it up, went to

February 2016 EBR Update Amazon page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

double-checked that I was getting the right download version for the device, and manually updadoted it (following Amazon’s directions precisely…I generally do that, in part to test how clear their directions are for other people).

It went through the update process, but then…

Just as it would be going to the homescreen (that’s one of the big changes), I got an “Application Error” message box, that told me

“The selected application could not be started. Please try again.”

All I had was a blank screen…still illuminated, but blank.

I restarted  it.

Same thing.

I downloaded the file again from Amazon, went back through the install process.

Same thing.

I couldn’t do anything with it except use the power button to restart it, or put it into USB mode by plugging it into my computer.

Now, I often say how I generally find Amazon’s Kindle Support to be friendly and helpful, and that has been the case.

I went to

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport (at AmazonSmile*)

That worked in its normal satisfying fashion: my phone rang in seconds, and I was speaking to a person within a minute.

Well, I was with that person on the phone for close to an hour.

While it isn’t my primary job responsibility, I do phone tech support at work. I do think I know something about it, both as a user of phone tech support and to a small extent, as a provider of it.

Generally, Amazon is very, very good on this.

In this case, it could have been improved. They tell us that these calls could be recorded for training purposes. I honestly hope this is one of them.

It’s not just that the problem couldn’t get fixed…hey, sometimes, things are really broken.

It’s that the representative kept forgetting what my actual situation was.

More than once, the rep asked me to go to the settings menu…when I repeatedly responded that I couldn’t get to the menus at all, since all I had was a blank screen (no amount of swiping or restarting would change that).

I was asked if my wi-fi was on: I said I assumed it was. I was asked to verify it: I had to say (again) that I couldn’t get into anything that would enable me to check it.

The person with whom I was speaking was in what was probably a group chat, asking other Amazon employees questions. I have no problem with that: I do that myself. We can’t all know it all, and it’s great sometimes to have shared wisdom on a perhaps unusual circumstance (I’m sure many people have update sixth generation Paperwhites with no problem.

One creative solution was to rename the downloaded “bin” file, which is the update.

Unfortunately, that didn’t fix it, but it was a nice try.

I was asked if I had modified this Paperwhite: nope, this one is for my Significant Other, and I really, really don’t mess with those. I want unmodified ones precisely so I can have the typical user experience in situations like this.

Finally, after more than 45 minutes, I was transferred to someone who was actually an expert in this.

Within ten minutes, the verdict was, yes, it was broken.🙂

I was out of warranty…so they offered me a discount on the purchase of a future device.

How much of a discount?

It seemed like $10 or $15, depending on the price of the device…and that they would send me an e-mail with the information.

I haven’t gotten an e-mail, as far as I can tell (I checked my spam folder, besides my inbox).

I’ve never had that happen from Amazon before, either…where they said I would get an e-mail, and I didn’t.

My Significant Other came home while I was on the second call, and could tell I was frustrated.

I almost never get frustrated, so that was a bit shocking.🙂

I think I was still civil, although I was probably shorter with the second person than I should have been.

Bottom line: I do think I probably did as instructed by Amazon, and I do think it made the device unable to perform. Amazon could have, I think, handled my Customer Service experience better…and that is very atypical of my experiences with them in the past. I’m guessing (hoping?) it was just a fluke.

I’m letting you know, in part to say that perhaps manually updating your sixth generation Paperwhite may not be advised.

One additional point, and this is interesting.

I was getting the Special Offers “screensaver” before it would go to a blank screen when I swipe. Yes, I know, I know…the only thing working on the Paperwhite was the ad.😉

However, it occurred to me that maybe I would bypass the broken application if I had it go to the offer instead.

I tried that this morning…and it worked!

From there, I could try getting to settings (not that I can do much there now), but that is only the store settings.

There was a “Home” button I could reach though…and I tapped it.

It took me to a “slideshow” about my update!

Hey, I just got through the slideshow…and I’m on the new homescreen!

I tested to see if that would persist by restarting it…and it failed with the same white screen and error message.

When I toggled the device on and off (using the power button), I got the Special Offers screen again…and by going through that special deal, I once again was able to get to the Homescreen!

I’ll let Amazon know about this “back door” method. That doesn’t fix the Paperwhite, but at least it is usable again.

I also want to mention that I did try downloading the other generation Paperwhite updates…and in each case, it correctly identified them with messages that they were the incorrect versions, so I know I had the right one initially…I was confident in that, but I wanted to test.

Hm…it is quite slow, so since I now have access to the menus, I’m trying to reset it to factory defaults to see what happens.

Okay, having gone through the reset, it does seem to work, and it tells me it is at the current version (5.7.2). I do have the new homescreen experience. One more test: I’ll restart it and see if it gives me that blank screen…

Well! So far, it all seems to work! I need to test it more, but virtual fingers crossed. Oh, and I did just put a passcode on it to test to see if that feature might have been what was broken, but that also worked.

I’ll contact Amazon directly and know about this…I will also offer them their discount back…presuming I actually get it.😉 I now feel great that I solved the problem! Not great about the Customer Service call, but it’s hard to keep an optimist down for long.😉

Bonus deals:

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

includes ten books in the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters by $1.99 each. A number of these are also available through

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Another deal, no doubt related to St. Valentine’s Day (although it goes through March 3rd) is

99 Romances for $0.99 each (at AmazonSmile*)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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! :) 

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.

 

Update your Kindle or lose access on it to your Cloud, the store, and other Kindle services

February 10, 2016

Update your Kindle or lose access on it to your Cloud, the store, and other Kindle services

Big thanks to regular reader and commenter Lady Galaxy for letting me know about an e-mail from Amazon about a looming deadline.

One of the other Kindle Forum Pros (we get that designation from Amazon for being helpful on the Amazon forums, but we aren’t employed by them) pointed me to this Amazon help page with the details:

Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

The basics are this:

For many older Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers), if you don’t update them by March 22, 2016, they will no longer be able to access the Kindle services. You would still be able to read e-books from the Kindle store you have already downloaded to your devices, but…

  • You would not have access on that device to your Cloud: the books (and other items) that you have purchased from the Kindle store and are being stored for you by Amazon
  • You would not be able to buy new items from the Kindle store on that device
  • “Other services” would likely include subscriptions (including blogs like this one), Send to Kindle, Whispersync between your device and other devices on your account, and backing up your annotations

First, I do want to say that this is going to be a pretty small group of people (which does include Lady Galaxy). Devices generally automatically update “over the air”. I would guess that not one percent of devices out there are not updated.

However, people do choose not to update. For example, I know of people who chose not to update a device after Amazon allowed publishers to block text-to-speech access. That meant that they didn’t get the books wirelessly on those devices, they downloaded them with a computer and transferred them via USB…which is what could happen after this deadline passes, I assume.

What I don’t like here is that was voluntary: this won’t be.

Second, it’s important to note that Amazon is not taking away people’s purchases. They can continue to read them and they could do it using Amazon’s free reading apps.

The “however” on this one is that if they want to read those books on an e-ink device, they would have to buy another one (or have another one registered to the account).

Third, and significantly, this could lose people access to active content (games and apps) unless they update. You can’t use those in the reading apps. They don’t work on the current devices.

So, this is a takeaway, although not for very many people in many situations.

Still, I don’t like that. We don’t commit to updating our devices to continue to have the access we have when we purchase a license from the Kindle store.

Now, this may be unavoidable in some way.

Since this is going to affect all devices back to the 2007 model, it clearly indicates a change in the Kindle network/server side, not on the devices.

They aren’t suggesting that you have to get a new update, just the current ones.

Personally, especially given how small this group is going to be, I think Amazon should compensate them in some way.

One smart thing to do would be to offer them a small discount on a current device and to promote the trade-in.

Amazon could give them a $20 discount on the purchase of a new device. They don’t have to do that; Amazon is, I believe, within their contractual obligations to require this update. It would be good Customer Service (and Amazon has great Customer Service), and help alleviate fears that this might inflame about eventually losing access to your Amazon purchases. It’s not my intent, but this post may spark a bit of a tweetstorm about Amazon taking away access. Of course, it might not: I don’t get quoted all that often.😉

I’m writing this to give you a heads-up so you can take some actions if you want.

You could download things to your current device. Downloaded e-books and active  content and such should continue to work (although features like Wikipedia look up and sharing quotes probably wouldn’t). You could then use them…until it died.

You could update it…while you might lose some things you like, it would be fully connected.

You could emotionally prepare yourself to switch to (or at least add) another device.🙂

Even if Amazon doesn’t offer a discount to those affected people, there is a trade-in program (probably won’t get you much, but could get you something):

Amazon Trade-In Program (at AmazonSmile*)

Also, and I don’t think there is any connection, but most of the current line up of EBRs and Fire tablets are on sale right now.

I had started to write a post about that, but this story is important to me…so I’ll paste what I was writing here:

It’s not just KU that’s on sale: so are many devices!

I wrote recently about

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

 being on sale through this Sunday:

25% off Kindle Unlimited through Sunday

Many of the Fire tablets and Kindles are also on sale!

In terms of the EBRs (E-Book Readers), this is similar to a deal they did in November…$20 off, with the Voyage not on sale.

So, I’ll copy in what I said then:

Kindle, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $59.99 (down from $79.99)

The $20 off also means you could get it without the Special Offers ($79.99, down from $99.99) for the same price you would normally pay for an ad-supported model.

This is the entry level model, and it’s a good one. Here are some of the differences between this and the Paperwhite (which I’ll link below):

  • No frontlighting, so you read it like you would a p-book
  • Fewer pixels per inch (167 versus 300), so the image isn’t as sharp (but I would say sharp enough for most casual reading…you might notice it with images, like graphs)
  • Available only in wi-fi…no wi-fi and 3G option (for more money)
  • A bit less heavy, a bit thicker

Kindle for Kids Bundle with the latest Kindle, 2-Year Accident Protection, Kid-Friendly Blue Cover (at AmazonSmile*) $79.99 (down from $99.99)

This is like the above, but includes a ruggedized cover and an extended warranty…since each of those costs $20, this is a big savings, even without the discount.

Certainly something to consider for a gift.

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*) $99.99 (down from $119.99)

The Paperwhite (this is the latest generation) is a great model Kindle! I’d say it may be my favorite (price and everything taken into account), with the Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) being second…well, wait, lack of TTS makes that a tighter battle. For sight-reading, it’s my favorite. 🙂

Why would you literally pay $100 more (right now) for a top of the line

Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

?

You do get a few more things:

  • Adaptive light sensor
  • Page press buttons (in addition to touchscreen…these all have touchscreen)
  • Quite a bit less heavy and a tad smaller

Also on sale are the least and most expensive Fire tablets:

Note that all of these prices are for the USA, and are for a limited time…as always, check the price before you click or tap that “Buy button”.

Here is Amazon’s list of the devices affected by the deadline:

Device and Year Software Release Your Device Needs Update via wireless (3G) or Wi-Fi
Kindle 1st Generation (2007) 1.2.1 Use 3G
Kindle 2nd Generation (2009) 2.5.8* Use 3G
Kindle DX 2nd Generation (2009) 2.5.8* Use 3G
Kindle Keyboard 3rd Generation (2010) 3.4.2 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 4th Generation (2011) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 5th Generation (2012) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Touch 4th Generation (2011) 5.3.7.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 5th Generation (2012) 5.6.1.1 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 6th Generation (2013) 5.6.5 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Voyage 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Paperwhite 7th Generation (2015) No Update Needed No Update Needed

* For these devices, even if you are running software version 2.5.8, if you have not connected to wireless (3G) since October 5, 2015, please connect now.

Let me be really clear: I’m not mad at Amazon about this. It’s clearly part of Amazon improving services for the vast majority of their users. Inevitably, that can cause some losses to some people. Building something that’s great for cars may be bad for people who ride horses. Building something that’s great for electric cars may be a negative for people who use internal combustion engine cars. I do think it would make sense for Amazon to give something to the people who are losing something, but I don’t think it’s required…

What do you think? Do you have one of these “unupdated” EBRs? What do you plan to do about it? Had you gotten the e-mail? Whether you have one or not, do you think Amazon should compensate people in some way for the change? Do you think we as consumers will see changes to the Kindle service on all of our devices after March 22nd, or is this just a “behind the curtain” change? If you do think there will be visible changes, what do you think they will be? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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! :) 

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.

Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February

February 3, 2016

Big new update coming to current Kindle EBRs in February

Amazon sent me an e-mail yesterday announcing a major update for the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers), and I appreciate that reader Jay Howard gave me a heads-up as well! Letting me know about stories, especially linking to them, is always welcome, even if I’m already aware of it. It helps me judge interest, and sometimes links me to a different perspective on it.

You can see the high-level announced features here:

February 2016 EBR Update Amazon page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

This is a major redesign to the User Interface (UI)…one of the biggest changes we’ve had.

Since the first Kindle in 2007, the homepage has looked pretty much the same…a listing of books (and some other items, like blogs, newspapers, and while they were around, active content games and apps). We did get the ability to display them with thumbnails (small pictures) of the covers, but the only other big change really was the presence of ads if you bought one of the more popular ad-supported models.

This changes that.

You get a look that’s more like a tablet, with different sections.

This is customizable, but you might have one section with the covers of a few recent books, another section with your lists (Amazon Wish Lists, samples you’ve downloaded, your Goodreads “Want to read” list), another one with recommendations…it looks pretty configurable.

Now, it’s worth noting that all three of those “Reading Lists” can really be more “Shopping Lists”. They can be used for different purposes, but most people use Amazon Wish Lists for things they would like to get, at least hypothetically (that’s why they are called “wish” lists). A sample is intended to help you make up your mind about whether you want to buy a book or not. You might have a lot of Goodreads shelves, but it’s the one that is aspirational that it says it will list.

That’s fine with me, and not a surprise…we’ll see how configurable it all is, but it looks like the main point is to make it easier for you to get another book from Amazon.

In fact, almost all of the features on this page can have a positive impact on sales.

They talk about a recommendation engine (you say what you like, it recommends books for you).

That helps inform what happens at the bottom of your screen, but they want to use a number of approaches. The page says, “…show you personalized book recommendations, books your Goodreads friends are reading, best-selling titles, and more.”

Don’t worry, it’s not all about you buying books…it’s about you selling them, too.😉

How do you sell books for Amazon?

You do it by sharing the information about them with other people…and they are making that quite easy. Right from the book, you’ll be able to share a quotation to Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook, and Amazon will link a preview of the book, which can be used in a browser. The preview will, I’m sure, have a link to buy the book.

They are also simplifying the settings: Airplane mode, for example, will be available with one toolbar tap.

Now, lest this post sound cynical, I think people will like the update. It will make things more visually interesting, more controllable, and I think we readers will find it to be simpler.

Remember also that we want Amazon to sell books! We want them to make money…that encourages them to continue to support EBRs, and to do new development. We also don’t want Amazon to go out of business…ever.🙂 That would be a serious problem for our Kindle libraries.

The update will happen over the air during February for your device.

Update: if you’d prefer to download it yourself (so you don’t have to wait), you can do so here:

Kindle Software Updates (at AmazonSmile*)

I think Amazon’s instructions are pretty good on this one.

This update is coming to the current Kindles:

I don’t think this homescreen redesign will come to the earlier generations, although that doesn’t mean they won’t ever get another update.

I might have written about this yesterday, but I was being recorded by Len Edgerly for Friday’s

The Kindle Chronicles podcast

and that took up what would otherwise have been writing time, perhaps.🙂

It was a great experience, and I look forward to hearing the finished show! A question from one of my readers was included by Len, which I appreciated!

So, what do you think about the upgrade? Is it exciting to see Amazon updating the EBRs? Do you worry that they’ll eventually drop them in favor of backlit devices…or will there be, perhaps, a technological merging of the two? Do these features look exciting to you, or do you question whether it helps Amazon more than it helps you? When you buy an EBR, do you accept that it won’t always have all of the cutting edge features? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Updated update on the update: I updated!😉 I left my Paperwhite on wi-fi all day today, came home, and it had updated. I also left it plugged in, by the way. Over the next couple of days I’ll go through it thoroughly. I plan to produce a “menu map” before Sunday. In the mean time, I really appreciate the comments my readers are making to this post, giving their first impressions. Thanks, readers!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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.

Remarkable change in Fire OS 5

October 21, 2015

Remarkable change in Fire OS 5

I’m currently exploring my new

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*) $49.99

I plan to write about my first impressions and do a menu map before Monday.

There are a few things I wanted to mention right now, though, about the new Operating System, which will, I think, come to some older Fire tablets before the end of the year. My guess would be devices running OS 4x…which goes back to the third generation.

The Carousel is gone

Generally, people have not liked the Carousel, based on comments  on the forums…a presentation line of 30 (it used to be possibly hundreds) of recently used (or downloaded or updated) items.

Now, and this is much easier, there is a square at the bottom of the screen that bring them up as cards: sort of similar to double-tapping the home button on an iPhone. You can easily switch to items there, and remove them from the list with an x. You can also just swipe to your right from the homescreen to see them: nice!

Customizable wallpaper…even your own pictures!

People have wanted this one since the very first Kindle in 2007! You can easily change the wallpaper to a picture in your camera roll. I have one of our dogs as our wallpaper.🙂 Now, I do have an ad-supported device (which lowers the purchase price in exchange for seeing ads), so that’s what I see on the lockscreen. I assume, though, that the wallpaper doesn’t appear on the lockscreen.

Amazon can remember your wi-fi passwords

This sounds to me like it’s an option that means I won’t have to enter the wi-fi password when I get a new Amazon device registered to my account! If this is really the case, it’s a remarkable improvement. That’s been a big barrier in setting up a new gadget. I can remember my (complex) wi-fi password, but generally, it’s been the biggest thing that has kept setting up new things from simply being turning them on and using them. No, I’m not worried about Amazon having my wi-fi password…I don’t think Jeff Bezos gets into my neighborhood much.😉

That’s just three…I’m sure I’ll find more intriguing things when I do the menu map.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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! :) 

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.

Software update for Voyage, Paperwhites, and Mindle Touch brings new features

August 14, 2015

Software update for Voyage, Paperwhites, and Mindle Touch brings new features

All of the current Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) are getting an update!

You can update your device manually from

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

or you can wait and it should happen automatically eventually.

This update (for all of these models) brings them to 5.6.5.

The new features include:

  • Enhanced “SmartCards” when you do look-ups (by “long pressing”)
  • The Bookerly font
  • Better lay-out (including improvements to “…hyphenation, justification, ligatures, and kerning, as well as pop-up footnotes, endnotes and chapter notes.”). These aren’t available for every book yet, but for many of them, including in multiple languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch
  • You’ll now be able to get to author pages and personal recommendations from Goodreads

This is yet another example of Amazon giving us something more after we’ve already spent the money.

The affected models include:

  • Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite 3, and Mindle Touch (all 7th generation models)
  • Kindle Paperwhite 2 (6th generation)

The Kindle Paperwhite 1 and early generations of other models don’t get this one…at least at this point.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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! :) 

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

Fire OS 4.5.1 update available

November 25, 2014

Fire OS 4.5.1 update available

More later, but my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

just updated to 4.5.1.

They list the following key features:

  • Family Library: this is the new feature that lets you share certain content with some people, even when they aren’t on the same account
  • Lock Screen Media Controls: you can play music and audiobooks directly from the lock screen
  • If you have a rear-facing camera, you can launch the camera app from the lock screen
  • Prime Music Stations: Prime members now have ad-free stations of music
  • Emoji: little pictures for your e-mail (and other places)
  • Camera for Kids: interesting! Gimmicky camera features for children using Amazon FreeTime (that’s a new branding, I think) and they can’t post to social media

You can update your device manually from

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

or you can wait and it should happen automatically eventually.

The last major update was recent…I wrote about it on November 7th, so this is the second one in a month!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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! :) 

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

Hands on with the new EBR features

November 16, 2014

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.

Expanded X-Ray

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.

Enhanced Search

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.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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.

 

Updates bring new features to some Kindle EBRs

November 14, 2014

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😉 )?

 

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* 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.


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