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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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Kindle Touch Update 5.1 Adds Landscape Mode, Language Support, and Translation

The Kindle Touch has had its firmware updates in preparation for a multi-national release, it seems.  Version 5.1 actually brings us a number of useful features that users have been vocal about desiring for their eReaders.  While the removal of the physical keyboard may have opened the door for Kindle availability in languages besides English, this is probably the biggest step we have seen so far in terms of making that a reality.

Here’s what we’re looking at right now (Amazon Support Page):

  • Landscape Mode

It is finally possible to switch back and forth between portrait and landscape orientations on the Kindle Touch.  While this has long been an option for Kindles, for whatever reason it has taken until now for the Touch to get with the program.  Good news since there are situations where you can’t reasonably  do without it.

  • Added Language Support

Kindle users can now choose from English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese according to personal preference.

  • Instant Translation

While reading, you can now highlight a word or selection and have it translated for you on the spot.  Translations go through Bing Translator and are obviously going to be imperfect, but this is both fun and useful.  Unfortunately, it won’t work very well if you like to read with the WiFi turned off to improve battery life.

  • Improved WiFi

Connectivity has been improved and users have more options.  Connect with WPS and some WPA2 Enterprise setups.

  • Read-to-Me With Text-to-Speech

This one is restricted to English for the moment, but the Kindle Touch can now read to you, including some magazine and newspaper articles.  Perhaps more robust language support will come later?

  • Expanded Sharing

This will basically just tell people what you’re reading, should you feel like sharing.  It fills in a feature missing in comparison to Nook and Kobo options, but doesn’t excite.

  • Onscreen Keyboard Suggestions

Let’s face it, onscreen keyboards are annoying.  On the Kindle Touch it is even worse because of the refresh rate of E Ink.  Now typing is far more manageable.  Huge improvement!

  • Kindle Format 8

This one was pretty much just housekeeping for Amazon.  If you’re going to try and build a new standard, the least you can do is make sure that the latest generation of the device it is being designed for can handle it.  Might make periodicals more readable, but overall reflowable text is still the biggest advantage of an E Ink Kindle.

The Kindle Touch just plain works better now, really.  They added enough that there should be reason for users old and new to be excited here.  Landscape mode might have just been crossing an essential fix off the list, but things like keyboard suggestions and translation on demand change the experience for the better.  I’m definitely looking forward to the next generation of Kindle now that we have an idea what the innovation it brings to the table will be, but for now I may finally be recommending the Kindle Touch over the Kindle Keyboard for the first time.

2.5 Update Brings Facebook And Twitter to Kindle and Kindle DX

In a fairly timely manner, given the recent impressive nook functionality update, Amazon gives the Kindle a few new features that are actually something to get excited about for once. And a couple that aren’t of course.

One of the more exciting new additions is simply a long overdue organizational concern.В  Users will now be able to define collections of books.В  I don’t know when this became something people didn’t expect an eReader user to need, but it’s about the only thing I missed when I made the move from the PRS-500 to my Kindle.

Password protection, going down Amazon’s list, is simply a useful new feature.В  Not exciting, per se, but anything that adds a sense of security to this otherwise almost scarily portable device I like to take out in public with me is a good thing.

In terms of functionality, we get the ability to Pan & Zoom on PDFs, and some font enhancements.В  I’m on the fence about the PDF thing.В  It seems like a great idea, but until we see the actual implementation, it might end up being about as useful as the note-taking feature for all I know.В  Sharper fonts, as well as larger font options for those in need of them, can’t help but be a plus.В  Anything that makes reading even more pleasant gets my vote.

The most hyped part of the update, however, is about Facebook and Twitter integration. В At very least it gives you (and Amazon) the ability to advertise to people that you’re reading on a Kindle right this minute and show off what your book of the day is. В Depending on how functional this social highlighting would be it can turn out to be quite useful. I read several periodicals and blogs on my Kindle when I’m on the go. I highlight and clip interesting articles and paragraphs so that I can later get back to them or share with other people only to forget about them five minutes later. The problem is that although Amazon let’s you view your notes and highlights online so theoretically you could conjure up a web-service that would email them to you, this functionality doesn’t apply to periodicals and blogs. Hopefully with this update you could tweet your interesting highlights and then read your own tweets so they are actually not forgotten.

Anyway, this one’s going to be a fun one, especially for those of us with huge collections.В  Bringing some order to the chaos that is my ebook shelf is going to be a huge relief.

Kindle Software 2.3 (399380047)

It definitely looks like I’ll have to eat my words… One month ago I made a statement that there will be fewer Kindle software updates and that chances of new features being added via update are slim. At least on the second count I was wrong. Amazon has released Kindle software version 2.3 for Kindle 2 US, Kindle 2 International and Kindle DX. It added significant features to all of these devices. In fact Amazon deemed the update so significant that they’ve sent out emails to Kindle owners about it.

  • Kindle 2 International (wireless by AT&T) got a significant battery life boost. You can now go for a week without having to recharge the device and keep the wireless on. Since it doesn’t apply to the US version of Kindle 2 (that uses Sprint for wireless connectivity) it looks like Amazon didn’t change the poll frequency but either fixed some bug in wireless driver or took advantage of a technology similar to PUSH email.
  • Both US and international versions of Kindle 2 got native PDF support based on the same code that was used in Kindle DX. Now you can also manually switch screen orientation to landscape. Kindle DX style automatic switching doesn’t work since Kindle 2 devices lack the accelerometer hardware. PDF files are better cropped now as blank margins don’t use up valuable screen space. This is especially important for small 6″ Kindle screens since PDF viewer still lacks zoom feature.
  • Since all Kindle versions now support PDF, sending PDF file to @kindle.com email will no longer convert it to native Kindle format by default. If you still want the conversion to happen, you should put the word “Convert” in the email subject.
  • Kindle DX screensaver activation time was increased from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. This makes sense since larger screen can contain more text that takes longer to read.
  • All Kindle versions will not require signed update packages. This problem however has already been solved.

Normally you Kindle would update itself automatically if you have wireless connectivity. However if you do not or the update failed because you had hacks installed, you can update Kindle manually. This time around though, rather than trying to hit dynamic URLs that are supposed to always provide the latest version, you can download the update from the appropriate static location. These locations are listed on Amazon.com Help page.

By bringing all Kindle devices to the same version, Amazon will simplify software development process in the long run. They may change the update process in the future to cut the update delivery costs. 2.3 update package was around 10 megabytes large. If they keep the current method update packages will get only larger.

At the moment there is no update for 1st generation Kindle. And dare I make another prediction – the chances of it happening are rather slim.

While we are on the topic of updates. There might be another update currently in the works in Lab126. On Kindle Facebook page Kindle developers have posted the following message:

Amazon Kindle Kindle Customers, We have heard from many of you that you would like to have a better way to organize your growing Kindle libraries. We are currently working on a solution that will allow you to organize your Kindle libraries. We will be releasing this functionality as an over-the-air software update as soon as it is ready, in the first half of next year. – The Kindle Team

Personally I have just one question left: Where are the bleeping Unicode fonts? Amazon, seriously! Is it too much trouble to replace the current fonts with ones that support wider range of characters? Although with PDF support in place there is workaround via PDF font embedding, it would be nice to have native support as well.

I guess this leaves me with little choice but to recompile Kindle Unicode Font Hack to work with Kindle Software 2.3… I’ll post as soon as it’s ready and tested.

Kindle 2.0.4 (353720025) and Kindle DX 2.1.1 (351050064) updates

On the Kindle source code page two new packages recently appeared:

Some users have already reported receiving these updates on your devices. Manual Kindle software update URL still returns 2.0.3 for me and there is no known URL to check for Kindle DX updates at the moment. There doesn’t seem to be any update for the original 1st generation Kindle at the moment.

If you notice any differences after your Kindle updates, please let me know. This would also be a good time to temporarily revert Unicode Font Hack or any other firmware-altering hacks that you have installed so that automated update installation will not fail. You can safely reapply hacks after you get the updates.