Kindle Fire update offers in-book sharing, document storage, DRM fix


Released by Amazon earlier today through a direct download or an automatic over-the-air update, version 6.3 of the Kindle Fire software brings a bevy of improvements to the color, touchscreen tablet. Most notably, Amazon added the feature that allows readers to share specific passages, quotes or notes with friends. After highlighting a section of the book to be shared, the Kindle Fire owner chooses the “Share” option and can add a personal note along with the passage before selecting a social network like Facebook or Twitter. The Kindle Fire user can also share the section with other Kindle readers that happen to be reading the same book. Social network sharing has been available on regular Kindle models since late April 2010.

amazon-kindle-fire-internet-browserThe Amazon Silk Web browser has been upgraded to include a “Reading View” option for users that prefer to get to the text of an article quickly without having to look at other content on the site like related stories, user comments or banner advertisements. Amazon states that the text will be loaded on a “single-screen view,” even if the article is broken into several pages. In addition, the user can switch between the full Web page and the reading-view version at any time. 

While previously available to Kindle Touch owners, Kindle Fire owners now have access to Kindle Book Extras. This feature allows readers to check out supplemental information about characters, locations and other content within a book. For instance, a reader can check out a glossary of commonly used terms within the book, author information or bios on the main characters within the story. In order to access this feature, users can find the “Book Extras” option under the Menu section in the main toolbar.

Students that happen to own a Kindle Fire will be able to take advantage of the “Print Replica” program with the new update. This program offers a significant discount on college textbooks and allows students to purchase or rent the textbook for the semester. For instance, this accounting book on Amazon retails in hardcover form for nearly $200, but can be purchased for the Kindle for approximately 60 percent of the price. Renting textbooks on the Kindle is dependent on the amount of time the student needs the book and drives the price down even further. The “Print Replica” program contains all the rich formatting found in the regular textbook, but also includes features found on the Kindle like notes, highlights and last page read.

amazon-kindle-fire-handOffering up document storage in the cloud, the update allows Kindle Fire owners to store documents and access that data through the Documents Tab on the Kindle Fire. Including similar features found when reading an e-book, the documents include notes and highlights when accessed on different devices.

A popular use of cloud storage on the Kindle Fire is music playback. Amazon offers up 5GB of free space for all Kindle Fire users and and music purchased on Amazon doesn’t count against the 5GB limit. 

Finally, Amazon developers fixed a bug with the digital rights management of movie rentals when purchased through the retailer. Previous to the update, Kindle Fire owners had to watch a movie rental within a 24-hour period from when the download started. However, version 6.3 corrects this function to start the countdown clock when the user actually starts watching the movie. For instance, a user can now rent several movies before heading out on a vacation without having to watch all films in the first 24 hours. Starting the 24-hour period when the user starts watching a film is a common practice found across a wide array of devices and services.