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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Amazon Adds In-App Purchasing to the Kindle Fire, App Development Expansion Predicted

Amazon’s Appstore for Android is not exclusively available for the Kindle Fire, but at this point that is the device that matters.  The relatively new media tablet already holds the majority share of the Android tablet market and has proven more or less untouchable by comparably priced hardware competition so far.  The secret, if it can really be said to be one, is in the content.  Amazon has just about anything one might want to consume through the Fire ready to go at a moment’s notice with the push of a button.  Nobody else can come close for the price.

When some major shortcoming is addressed in the design of their ecosystem, it is therefore worth taking note of.  Like the recent announcement that developers now having access to the option of in-app purchasing, completely changing the potential for ongoing revenue from Kindle Fire owners.  This is a long-time staple of iOS app market that is well overdue here.

Until this point, Amazon affiliated app creators have earned a reported $0.89 for every $1.00 they earn selling the same offering through the iTunes App Store.  That is despite the lack of ongoing microtransactions supported by Amazon.  For comparison, the same app being sold through Google Play will earn an average of $0.23 for every dollar its creator catches via iTunes.

Opening up more possibilities for developers to make money through Android will put Amazon in a better position to build the best app selection available.  Currently, in sheer numbers, they are lagging behind both Apple and Google significantly.  By allowing options that don’t involve advertisements or unpopular third party tools, Amazon is making the Kindle Fire an even more attractive option.

This does open up some potential drama for Kindle Fire owners, of course.  The biggest draw of Amazon’s 1-Click purchasing system is that it is so easy you almost don’t notice you’re spending money.  Combine this with apps that are designed to offer quick and easy purchases and you may well have a recipe for personal financial disaster.

Many will recall an incident in the earlier days of the iPad when an eight year old girl made news buying Smurfberries to speed up her in-app play.  The bad publicity from this and similar events is what brought about the iPad’s detailed array of Parental Controls.

Amazon hopes to avoid similar efforts by having fewer loopholes in their existing restrictions.  Kindle Fire users have the ability to block in-app purchasing entirely, password protect the process using their Amazon account password, or create a PIN to unlock purchasing.  Between these choices, there should be little room for complaint about accidental shopping unless users simply don’t know how to access the controls.

For reference, you can manipulate Kindle Fire In-App Purchasing settings by going to the Apps tab from the Home screen, clicking on the Store, and opening the Settings menu.  Since all purchasing appears to be routed through this store app, it makes sense to find these settings here.

Amazon is Getting Kindle Fire In-App Purchasing Ready

If you’re going to develop an application around the idea of ongoing micro-transactions, and many people have chosen to do exactly that, then the most important consideration is likely going to be smooth integration of payment options.  Amazon used the essence of this in the creation of the Kindle Fire itself.  The whole tablet is basically a way for customers to get the content they want without thinking too hard about where or how to get it, all while keeping the actual act of purchase as unobtrusive as possible.  Until now, however, app developers wanting to cater to Kindle Fire users have been unable to turn this to their own advantage.

We know they have been looking into making this happen for quite some time, but apparently now we have some confirmation of active testing being done in preparation for a more large-scale roll-out.  One of the founders of Skimble Inc, the maker of some physical fitness programs that have been involved with the pilot, revealed some of the details.

There will be both individual purchase options and the ability to set up a subscription.  This will be handy for newspapers following Amazon’s recent recommendation that potential newspaper submissions set up their own apps rather than getting into the Kindle Store’s selection.  Amazon’s cut on every sale will be the same 30% they take on eBooks and app sales in general.

This opens up whole new avenues of income both for Amazon and for app developers participating in their Android app store.  Currently anybody looking for regular income from their users is forced to either sell ad space in free apps or arrange some sort of non-integrated system for content purchases.  It is a smart move that puts the company in a much better position to capitalize on the Kindle Fire and Android app sales in general.

This is not a trivial thing to get going.  Amazon absolutely needs to get things right.  There have already been complaints about their parental controls thanks to poorly functioning and completely missing options in the initial release of the Kindle Fire.  Users need the assurance that this will not be an issue in the future.

Many will remember the iPad in-app spending horror stories resulting from unrestricted purchasing options.  Children were able to charge thousands of dollars buying virtual goods with no notice or warning screen until Apple came up with more refined controls.  Such have not been nearly as necessary for the Kindle Fire before now, but adding this feature to the system will require some changes.

While Amazon has the best selling Android tablet on the market today, they have the smallest of the three major tablet app stores.  Part of that is the heavy oversight they keep in place to ensure quality control among their offerings, but a lot is also lack of developer interest.  While developers are likely to make significantly more on their app sales through Amazon than through Google Play, the initial sale is not the only source of income for many companies.  If Amazon gets this working, and working well, it could lead to a huge boom in Kindle Fire app-building.

Getting To Know The Kindle Fire’s Parental Controls

I was browsing through some random reviews, recommendations, and complaints about the Kindle Fire a bit earlier, trying to get a feel for the reactions as people get used to them, when I came across the truly unbelievable claim that the Kindle Fire‘s major flaw as a family device was its lack of parental controls.  Now, there are a few reasons to get something besides the Kindle Fire for use with kids, such as some games not yet being available through the Amazon App Store or wanting to avoid the guilt of competing with your own children over the use of a favorite toy, but Parental Controls just don’t make the list.  In an effort to help people better understand their device, let’s go over how this works.

How to Turn On Parental Controls

  • Open the App tab on your Kindle Fire
  • Load the integrated Appstore
  • From the menu bar on the bottom of the screen, select “Settings”
  • Edit settings under both “Parental Controls” and “In-App Purchasing” as desired

What Parental Controls Do

By enabling Parental Controls on your Kindle Fire, you can prevent unauthorized purchasing.  This works in two ways.  Simply switching the setting to “On” will require entry of your Amazon account password before any purchase of anything in an App.  There is a second setting in the same menu tree that blocks in-app purchases entirely.  You also get the option to set a four digit PIN that can be used in lieu of your password, which can be convenient and is always going to be faster than entering a really secure password.

What Parental Controls Can’t Do

The most important things that the basic settings will fail to do are prevent purchasing and prevent app access.  The former is simple enough.  You can disable Mobile 1-Click Purchasing from the “Your Apps & Devices” settings on Amazon.com.

  • Under the main drop-down menu, select Appstore for Android>Your Apps and Devices
  • From there, select 1-Click Settings
  • Your primary payment method will be displayed.  Click “Edit” to the right of it
  • You will then see a button saying “Turn off 1-Click” under the heading “Mobile 1-Click: Kindle Fire”

Simple enough, you just can’t do it easily from directly inside the Kindle Fire‘s menu system.

As far as the app access goes, to the best of my knowledge there is no work-around.  If you have an app that doesn’t require a password, anybody can use it.

Why Bother With Parental Controls?

There was a great deal of controversy over some of the iPad’s apps earlier this year when their micro-transaction model, coupled with an emphasis on entertaining small children, resulted in ridiculously large charges being run up without parental consent.  There are always going to be games on the Appstore, of course, and it would be silly for us to expect them to avoid something as profitable and tempting as micro-transactions, so it’s probably best to be prepared.  Amazon admittedly seems to be doing great at keeping on top of all of their potential customer service disasters so far, but something is going to slip through eventually.  Don’t be the one to find out too late that you owe $10,000 over digital Smurf accessories after leaving a child alone with your Kindle Fire.