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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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Nook HD Profile Feature Capitalizes on Common Kindle Fire Privacy Complaints

There were few things about the Kindle Fire’s release that sparked more attention than the Carrousel home screen.  This approach set the Kindle Fire apart from other Android tablets by creating a simpler, more intuitive user experience.  Naturally that, alongside Amazon’s locking users into their ecosystem, drew fire from critics who prefer a more configurable, personalizable interface and a device that can tap into Google’s large app selection.  The real problem it caused, however, was less bound to a particular view of how the Android experience should be presented and more in its complete lack of user controls.

For the most part, this boiled down to privacy.  The Kindle Fire, when it was released, could not reasonably be considered a family-friendly device.  In many cases it couldn’t even be comfortably used as a multi-user device.  The Carrousel displayed everything that was accessed, in the order it was accessed, along with every piece of media attached to the user’s account.  It’s hard enough to overlook the potential for embarrassment in that arrangement among adults, but this made it more or less impossible for parents to use their Kindle Fire while moderating the content that children might be exposed to.

This has since been fixed, of course.  The Carrousel offers deletion, parents are able to control more aspects of their child’s access (with even more coming soon thanks to Kindle FreeTime), and privacy is restored.  Barnes & Noble, possibly in response to precisely this debacle, has come up with what is probably an even better set of user-profile features than the Kindle Fire HD now offers or can be expected to offer with the release of Kindle FreeTime.

The details are understandably vague at this point.  The Nook HD is not out until November 1st and some of the software is clearly still being fine-tuned, making over-promising a real possibility if they aren’t careful.  Still, what we know now is enough to declare this a highly family-friendly feature.

Each Nook HD owner will be able to create up to six Nook Profiles.  These will be theoretically autonomous, including their accessible content.  Each profile will have its own private library, though clearly the owner will have override control to a large extent that should allow simple sharing between these.  In addition to personalized content collections, users will be able to tailor all personalization options independently.  The Nook Tablet doesn’t offer much in the way of visual customization, but it doesn’t offer as little as the Kindle Fire either so this could be quite handy.

This makes the situation for parents a bit better as well.  Barnes & Noble is pushing the children’s eBook market fairly hard still and the Nook HD is no exception.  Using Nook Profiles, parents will be able to separate their kids’ books from the main library so that they won’t have to worry about them while looking through more adult-friendly content.  The parental controls will still apply to a child’s profile, of course, but should be able to be bound specifically to that profile.  If you password protect your personal profile, this means that it’s reasonable to use the Nook HD normally without entering in a PIN constantly.

The Kindle Fire HD now has some great parental control options, soon including a finer level of control than anything offered by the competition right now if the FreeTime claims are to be believed, but this is a case where the Nook HD is noticeably superior.  Barnes & Noble really wants the family-oriented customers and it shows.

Kindle Fire’s Silk Browser Raises Security Concerns

Amazon’s Kindle Fire does a few things that surprised people when it was announced a couple weeks ago, but probably nothing shocked people more than the inclusion of the new Amazon Silk internet browser.  The idea behind it is sound, allowing most of the work for web browsing to be done in the cloud so that the user experiences vastly reduced loading times and a generally superior browsing experience.  Obviously, however, the fact that the processing is being done by external computers raises some concerns in terms of privacy that need to be addressed.

Some have worried that Amazon would use customers’ browsing habits to customize sales pitches.  Others are concerned that once acquired this user data becomes a commodity that Amazon can hope to turn into profit.  Enterprise IT is definitely concerned with the presence of the Kindle Fire in the workplace this November for a variety of reasons.  Even Congress has gotten involved, making the assumption that Amazon would be collecting as much data as humanly possible about everything going through their servers.  In response to these concerns, Amazon has released some information to the Electronic Frontier Foundation regarding what data will be collected and how it will be used by the company.

The biggest concern for many people, especially those focused on their online privacy, is being forced to use the Amazon Cloud acceleration.  Worry no more: You CAN turn it off at any time.  In addition to opting-out by the user, anything encrypted will be routed from your Kindle Fire directly to the origin server.  This means that anything going on over HTTPS will remain totally off limits for Amazon by design.

In terms of what data is being stored, each session will be logged individually for 30 days.  This log will contain nothing more than requested URLs and timestamps.  In no way will names or user accounts be connected to these logs, nor can they be according to Amazon representatives.  Data may in some instances be even more secure than it would otherwise be since the connection to Amazon’s servers is always going to be encrypted regardless of what you are doing.

Is there still some reason to be concerned?  Of course.  Mostly, however, it requires far fetched scenarios.  Since each session is logged individually, it is unlikely that search history could be used to identify the user from logs.  That doesn’t mean impossible.  Amazon will also suddenly have access to a vast amount of information about browsing habits in general which could be used to inform future business moves.  There is even the chance that law enforcement will find ways to coerce the company to provide cached information for one reason or another.  In terms of individual user safety, however, it seems that things are looking pretty good.  Being singled out is all but impossible.

If you are still concerned, just remember that you can tell your Kindle Fire not to use this feature.  Even without it on, the Silk browser is reported to deliver a speedy experience.  It’s always better to be aware of what information you are letting out about your habits on the internet, however mundane those may be.  Overall, though, Amazon seems to have gone out of their way to avoid intruding on your privacy.