Saturday, November 15, 2014

Software Update v5.6.1 for Kindle Paperwhite2, Kindle Voyage, and $79 e-Ink Kindle (Gen 7). US and UK -- Tips and detailed info

Amazon has released a software update for their current line of e-Ink Kindles.  

The free update will be rolled out automatically in the coming weeks, and those who prefer to manually download the update can do that, as before.

At the left is a screenshot of the expanded X-Ray for Books feature.

I received confirmation that Amazon's "goal is to make this update available for the first gen Kindle Paperwhite" (Paperwhite 1) as well. 

  (Updates for older generation devices tend to follow a few months later.)
New features include [quoting their forum announcement and press release]:
·         Word WiseFor readers learning English and children learning to read, Word Wise makes it easier to understand more challenging books more quickly. Short and simple definitions automatically appear above difficult words, so you can keep reading without having to stop and look up a word. To see the various meanings the same word can have in different contexts, just tap on the word to quickly bring up a card with definitions, synonyms, and more. You can adjust the number of definitions you see with a slider, dialing them up or down as you learn and grow your vocabulary. Word Wise is already available on thousands of titles, including The Hunger GamesThe Giver, and Wonder. See a screenshot:
  [A sample is show below.]
·         Family Library—For the first time, you can access not only your own Kindle books, but also books from the Amazon account of a spouse or partner. See a screenshot:

·         Kindle FreeTime Unlimited—For as little as $2.99 per month, kids get unlimited access to hundreds of hand-picked chapter books and early readers, all curated for age-appropriateness, so parents don’t have to spend time and money guessing what their kids will enjoy. Includes favorites such as the Harry Potter series, The Borrowers by Mary Norton, Big Nate and Friends by Lincoln Peirce, and Newberry Medal and Honor winning books such as The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

·         Expanded X-Ray for Books—X-Ray now makes it easier to explore as you read—quickly flip through all the images in a book, and use the new timeline view to easily browse the most notable passages. See a screenshot: [and above].

·         Deeper Goodreads Integration—Goodreads on Kindle now allows you to easily share your reading progress updates, add books from your Kindle library to your Goodreads shelves, and see your friends’ updates, ratings and reviews when looking at a book on Goodreads. See a screenshot:
·          Enhanced Search—Makes it even easier to find what you are looking for by combining and previewing results from your Library, Goodreads and the Kindle Store on the same page. See a screenshot:  
·         About This Book—See information about the book as you start to read, including its place in a series and author information, plus mark it as “Currently Reading” on Goodreads. See a screenshot:

This is a screenshot of Wordwise

To Manually download updates if not wanting to wait for automated over-the-air updates:

Here is the umbrella Kindle Software Updates page that covers ALL current Kindle devices (U.S.)
  Here's the equivalent UK page for Kindle software updates.

Again, the free update will be rolled out automatically in the coming weeks.

New Kindle Software Update Version (The version no. will be the same for the UK models)
All 3 models are getting the v5.6.1 software update.

Kindle Basic (7th Gen):
  NOTE: I've made a specific page link here, because Amazon's software updates page isn't clear in the left column about which "Kindle software update" is for the current basic Kindle (Gen 7).  The other models are clearly shown at the left of the umbrella page for updates.

  If you scroll down the general updates page, viewing the images of the models in the body of the page, it's easier to see which device-link to click for your software update file.

  Remember, the update is *automatically* sent to Kindles over an interval of a few weeks and it will be easier for most to wait and get it that way, fully automated.

HOW to do a manual USB transfer and install of a Kindle software update
Here's Amazon's general page of instructions for USB transfer and installation of updates to a Kindle device.
 Each update page for a specific device has a Determine Your Software Version link that needs to be used before trying to transfer a file for installation

Tips and Reminders
How does Family Library work?
Amazon has a very clear write-up on this book-sharing feature. It starts:
' Use Family Library to share content between two adults in your household.

Family Library lets you link your Amazon account to that of another adult in your household so you can easily share Kindle books across your Amazon devices and Kindle reading apps. Each adult chooses what they want to share: they can share all of their Kindle books, or, they can choose to only share individual titles.

Once you’ve set up Family Library, shared content will appear in the Cloud tab of each of your supported devices, which you can filter (for example, See My Books, See My Partner's Books, See All Books, etc.). When accessing shared content, each adult has their own settings for that content, such as furthest page read, notes and annotations, and more. '

    See the About Family Library help page for much more detail.

A Reminder about how syncing of your reading between devices and apps is done
In order for this to work reliably, the changes to your last page read and any new annotations done (highlighting, notes and bookmarks) must be 'seen' by the servers at Amazon -- this means that your WiFi or 3G wireless connection would need to be 'on' at the time you close the book by tapping the Home icon.
   Once the Amazon servers note the changes, they'll be available to the next Kindle-compatible reader or app you open (with Wireless on that device turned On also).
  You can turn 'off' the WiFi or 3G Wireless connection after leaving the Kindle book reading, which will help maximize battery use on that device.)

  When an eInk screen is displaying a page but there is no change to that screen, the display is having no effect on the battery.
  When you change what's being displayed (changing or adding anything on the page, as in tapping it on the side to get a new page or when an action brings a pop-up window or dialog box), the display IS using the battery.  That's why just pressing the power button for only ~1 second puts the Kindle to 'sleep' during which it displays an image, which doesn't use the battery, but the Paperwhite light turns off.

  Leaving it in this sleep state doesn't draw battery power as a result of the image display itself.  If, however, WiFi is On during Sleep state, any activity with subscription downloads or a Special Offers download -will- use battery power.

  There is always very slow battery drain in between charges even when a device is turned off.

  So, the "Screen Off" is a relatively new choice on mine.  This just blanks the screen and puts it into sleep state.  SOME have requested a blank screen so they know it's "Off" but, in this case, it's only that there's no image seen - not even Amazon's default images during normal sleep-screens.

Mentioned previously also:
  "Restart" acts more like a soft-reboot on a computer and clears up memory states that may be causing problems.

(Using the Paperwhite as an example)
  There is no option on my Paperwhite to completely Power Off or Shut down the Kindle.  My options are to (1) Cancel a longer key-press action, (2) Restart the Paperwhite (mine is a Paperwhite 1), or (3) choose "Screen Off." On other devices, some will see an option to "Power Off" or "Shut Down" the Kindle.

  Also, holding in the power button for over 20 seconds (rather than 5 seconds) does still cause a Restart (and a clearing of current memory use), as in the past.

IF you experience unusual battery drain
Note that keeping your Kindle always connected to a Wi-Fi network can drain the battery faster under certain circumstances.  If you're experiencing that, then once you've got the update "over the air," put the Paperwhite back to "Airplane Mode ON" via the 'Settings' option on the Menu -- the option lets you toggle Wireless OFF, using the "Airplane On" choice.

  Amazon's Paperwhite development team hasn't returned the Wireless Off/On choice to the front menu as they did one year for the Kindle Touch when they removed the 'airplane mode' icon that confuses many.  It's inconvenient to have the WiFi On/Off setting on a secondary menu and many, as a result, don't even know that they can actually turn WiFi Off if needed to conserve battery power.

  Amazon may prefer that we keep Wireless 'On' due to delivery of Special Offers but a battery-drain problem can occur when circumstances involve (1) subscriptions that are downloaded regularly (my New York Times Latest News subscription updates the Kindle edition about five times a day - $1.99/month)) or (2) due to a weaker connection that results from the distance from the WiFi router, in which case the device keeps trying to connect when a download is due (and that can be for the special offers that Amazon regularly needs to send for those who choose to opt for the less-expensive model with the special-offers feature) and is then often active.

  On the other hand as mentioned earlier, WiFi needs to be 'On' after you've read a book and made annotations for a session AND when you then want to be able to continue reading later, on another device (like a smartphone), starting at where you'd stopped.
  If WiFi isn't turned on, the Amazon servers won't have any way of knowing the last-page-read location nor any notes or highlighting you've made, which you'd want to be able to access on the other device.  So, a reminder on my usual recommendation:
1. When you're finished reading, tap the top-toolbar and press the HOME icon.
  On most e-Ink devices, this will 'close' the book session and record the last page read and log the annotations.
2. Tap the top of the eReader to bring up the toolbar and menu icon.
3. If you see an airplane icon at the top, your WiFi is Off (and you're in "airplane" take-off mode).
4. Tap 'Settings'
5. Turn Airplane Mode OFF, and that'll turn WiFi ON.
6. At that point, the Kindle will try to sync your changes to the Server and will download anything that is pending (a subscription to a newspaper, magazine, or blog, usually).
7. After that's done, you can go ahead and leave WiFi ON if you have no problems with faster battery drain
      OR you can turn OFF the WiFi if you need to save battery power.

Again, and only if you'd rather not wait -- DOWNLOADING and transferring the Update via USB
US:  Go to the Kindle Software Update page (or to the UK page to get the instructions for the download for your specific Kindle eReader and to transfer the appropriate update file to your Kindle via USB:

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Amazon offers Free, Unlimited Photo Storage to active Prime Members in the U.S. Updated for link to main Prime Unlimited Photo Storage page

Updated same night to include the main PRIME PHOTOS link
The new Unlimited Photo Storage plan for Prime members actually is quite an offer because photos can be huge, with today's many-megapixel lenses.  My Nokia Lumia 1020 cell phone's camera is a 40 megapixel one.  In the past, Amazon customers worldwide have received 5GB of storage free, to use for miscellaneous files, which could include normal work files, photos and even videos, but one video could use up most of it.  The popular sharing host, Dropbox offers all of 2 free Gigabites for storage of anything, although with flexible features and fast upload time and encourages us to refer others for an additional storage allowance of 500 megs (half a Gigabyte).

Amazon's existing file requirements for photos (videos are not part of the new Unlimited Photo Storage feature) include a limit of 2 GB for a photo.  Well, I've never made a photo that huge.  The new feature is for non-commercial use, for which you'd seldom see any photo be that large, even in 'tiff' or normal Photoshop-file size.

So, to have free, totally unlimited, photo storage as yet another feature for the Prime membership program is amazing.  As most customers know by now, Prime membership includes free 2-day shipping on most of Amazon's products; free access to Prime Instant video (about 40,000 movies and TV show episodes); Prime Music (ad-free Prime stations plus over a million songs, with X-Ray feature of scrolling lyrics); and the Kindle Lending library, which allows Prime mebers to borrow one Kindle book each calendar month without waiting periods or due-dates.

According to their Prime Photos Help page:
' Store your photos safely in Cloud Drive and you can access them anywhere, from almost any device by signing in with your Amazon account. Cloud Drive offers free mobile apps, secure access from any computer, and it's built in to all Fire devices. '

I've used the app that lets me back up photos to the Cloud, and access for viewing them is unexpectedly fast with a normal fast connection.

CAVEATS - This is also from the help page.  Read these carefully (I've bold-faced some of the points).
  . Prime Photos requires an Amazon Prime, Amazon Mom, Amazon Student or Amazon Fresh membership.  If you cancel or do not renew your Prime membership, you will lose the unlimited photo storage benefit associated with the membership and your uploaded photos will count toward your Cloud Drive storage limit.
  For more information about your Cloud Drive storage limits and what happens to your content if you exceed those limits, go to About Cloud Drive Storage Limits.

  . Prime Photos is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You may not use it in connection with a professional photography business or other commercial service.
Certain photo formats are excluded.  For more information, go to Cloud Drive Photos & Videos File Requirements.

If you're not already a Prime member and are interested in this, Amazon has a 30-day free Prime trial.  This is a strong incentive for those for whom photos are important.

  For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
Temporarily-free books - Non-classics
USA: by:
   Publication Date  
   Bestselling   High-ratings

UK: PubDate   Popular

The Kindle Daily Deal

What is 3G? and "WiFi"?       Battery Care

Highly-rated under $1
,  Newest: $1-$2, $2-$3
Most Popular Free K-Books
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
   Top 100 free
   Top 100 free

Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.

USEFUL for your Kindle Keyboard (U.S. only, currently):
  99c Notepad 1.1,   99c Calculator,
  99c Calendar,   99c Converter

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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Alerts: Today's Free App of the Day is a good one - Elements of Photography Pro, usually $3.50. Sale pricing on Fire TV and Fire HDX 7" tablet, as well as on a FireTV-tablet bundle

Alert to a very good free App of the Day for Android and all Kindle Fire tablets

It's Elements of Photography Pro by Arkenstone Technologies Pvt. Ltd. and, so far, has 25 reviews with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 (edited to add that a new app user just low-graded it because he thought it was a camera he could use).

  This app also has integrated Google Translate and is available in 14 languages.]

At the right is a sample lesson screen
from the app.

At any rate, it should be useful to anyone wanting to understand how to use combinations of settings for any given photo situation.   Included are tips and a quiz section.

Updated the Free Books search links
(Non-Classics/Contemporary) available for November, with October also accessible.
    October 2014  November 2014.
    Also, all currently free non-classics sorted by:
    Publication Date   Bestselling    High ratings

Quick alert for limited-time pricing on a couple of tablet and streaming tv options
Amazon is starting its limited time pricing deals as they approach Black Friday, and online stores seem to be starting earlier every year.

Unfortunately, Amazon is now showing only starting prices for tablet products and asking customers to choose added storage and/or Wireless options (WiFi or WiFi+3G) after adding to the cart.  However, it's a little less confusing than it was when they had the 'hover' chart of different pricing based on storage and connectivity options.

The Kindle Fire HDX 7" tablet, recently given a regular price of $199 (down from $229), to start, is being sold for a limited time at $179 to start.
  And the Fire TV is available currently at a discounted price of $84 (down from $99).  There's no indication of expiration date for the sale, but this sold for a few days recently for that price and then was raised to 4.99

  They are also drawing attention on the tablet product pages to a current bundled pricing for the FireTV with a Kindle Fire HDX 7" tablet with 16 GB of storage space.  There is NO option to add storage to this tablet when bundled with Fire TV.  I'm personally more comfortable with 32 GB of storage, but Amazon pushes its Cloud storage for apps you use less frequently and these are downloadable at any time.

  At $259 for both, this allows the FireTV to have tablet content "mirrored" to your HDTV or even "flung" to it so that an Instant Prime movie starting on the tablet can be shown on just the HDTV, freeing up the tablet to be used for other things.
  That means that a few people can enjoy the video on the TV, with the Amazon Cloud processing the stream and freeing up the tablet's processor.  This includes being able to use the feature of checking who's in the current scene being watched, seen via Amazon's X-Ray feature available when viewing Amazon Instant Video -- but the tablet can be used for books, games, and other apps, while the video is shown on the TV.

That's it for now, as I have to be gone until tomorrow, but I wanted to send the alerts out to anyone who might be interested in them.

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Amazon's new Fire TV Stick - Like Chromecast? This is even better. $19 for the next 2 days only for new (free trials do count) and existing Prime members - Intro promo. Update2 for remote control + setup info. New limit: 1 per customer.

Amazon's new Fire TV Stick, a challenge to Chromecast

After Amazon's success with Fire TV (which really is beautiful, fast and smooth,  with a burst of new apps recently -- over 600 now), Amazon has added the FIRE  TV STICK" - a portable unit that attaches to any HDMI port of an HDTV.

And to bring it to our attention in a big way, this $39 item will be $19 for the next two days only (US only, currently), for new and existing Prime members.

Amazon adds that "Eligible customers get a free 30-day trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime when they purchase Fire TV Stick."

  In addition, per Amazon's Press Release, Amazon states: Customers who are new to Prime can sign up for a free trial and also receive this special price.  That statement is not seen on the product page but is an important point.

  As of late Monday night, Amazon changed its initial "two per customer" to "one per customer."  I've had a lot of inquiries about the stick, so that doesn't surprise me.

Here's a quick look at Amazon's comparison chart for the FireTVStick.  (See the  larger comparison chart in the Amazon product page's popup.)
As you can see, the Amazon stick and the Roku both include dedicated remotes. (The Voice remote -- an upgrade from the one included in the TVStick box -- is separate upgrade option at $30).  Google's Chromecast doesn't offer a dedicated remote.

  There will be a free Remote App for Fire and Android (and arriving later, for iOS), which will make Voice Searches possible without the optional Voice remote.
  TIP: If you do order the optional Voice Remote, some report that their dogs are attacted to it, so keep them higher, out of reach of pets.

  Here's info on how the unit is set up and ways to control it with mobile devices if you don't get the Voice remote control

Some runaway capabilities of the FireTVStick:
1.  It has a dual-core processor over the others' single-core processor so will be noticeably faster.
2.  It has twice the memory of the other two and will be smoother during processing of streams.
3.  The storage is 8 GB versus the 2 GB of the Chromecast and the 256K of the Roku sticks.
4.  Those with the FireTV will know how easy the VOICE Search is vs typing in alpha letters.
5.  FireTVStick has Dolby Digital Plus certified surround sound feature.
6.  It has an optional game controller (sold separately then) and has over 200 games to less than 30 for the Chromecast and less than 100 for the  Roku stick.

The Chromecast is at a disadvantage to the other two, even further, as it
1. doesn't have the Dual-band/Dual Antenna WiFi capability
2. doesn't have Amazon Instant Prime.

However, Amazon doesn't yet have HBOGo, though it was mentioned as coming, some time ago.  Until that happens, those having Fire tablets can Mirror to the FireTVStick for the HDTV what is on them (HBOGo is an official app for these).  But then this can be done with the FireTVStick with other tablets and phones.  Amazon's product page emphasizes:
' Use your iOS or Android device to fling music and movies to your HDTV—and control playback—from apps like YouTube and Spotify. Or, share movies, TV shows, music, and photos from your compatible tablet or phone with everyone in your living room using display mirroring. What you see on your Fire OS or Android device is exactly what you’ll see on your big screen. '
Another important feature is Amazon's ASAP for instant streaming. "No more waiting for your movies and shows to buffer—ASAP learns what movies and shows you like so they start instantly."

Amazon emphasizes its ecosystem, which has "over 200,000 TV episodes and movies, millions of songs, and hundreds of games.  Amazon's press release highlighted the following:
' ... Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu, WatchESPN, NBA Game Time, Prime Music, Pandora, Spotify, and more for instant access to shows like Transparent, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones, and The Wire—plus the largest selection of movies and TV episodes to rent or buy from Amazon Instant Video. '

I already have the FireTV but have wanted something for my computer room and of course a more portable version that I can take to friends' homes to easily share my own video-streaming favorites and watchlists.  While the HDMI Cable on the old Kindle Fire HD 8.9" tablet from 2012 could be used to attach to hotel TVs, Amazon has this info box:
' Coming soon -- take Fire TV Stick with you to use with HDTVs in hotels, college dorms, airports, or anywhere with captive portal Internet access that requires entering a password or a log-in. '

At any rate, I will end this here so more will know right away about Amazon's aggressive 2-day intro rate

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Amazon said to be opening a brick-and-mortar store in New York City

Just a quick note.  I saw this in the Wall Street Journal yesterday and, since some can't access it, will include some key points from the article.

"Amazon to Open First Brick-and-Mortar Site"
Written by Greg Bensinger and Keiko Morris, the WSJ reports that plans are to open an Amazon store in the middle of New York City, "according to people familiar with the plans" in time for the holiday season.
' Amazon’s space at 7 West 34th St., across from the Empire State Building in Midtown, would function as a mini warehouse, with limited inventory for same-day delivery within New York, product returns and exchanges, and pickups of online orders.  The Manhattan location is meant primarily to be a place for customers to pick up orders they’ve made online, but will also serve as a distribution center for couriers and likely one day will feature Amazon devices like Kindle e-readers, Fire smartphones and Fire TV set-top boxes, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking. '
The WSJ doesn't have details for the size, length of the lease, or inventory involved -- and plans could change, they say, as this is "an experiment."

Amazon had scouted space for a store in Seattle two years ago but decided there was not enough foot traffic.
The Empire State Building, across from the site of the planned store, drew 4.3 million visitors to its observatory last year. and Macy's, about a block away, saw 20 million annual visitors (so there should be enough foot traffic in this case!).

This particular experiment indicates that if the project is successful, we'll see Amazon stores only in the most heavily traffic'd parts of a few large urban areas, considering they didn't build one in Seattle.  But who knows?

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quick Kindle News: New Kindle Fire 8.9-inch HDX tablet will get free Washington Post articles. New OS 4 features are coming soon to LAST YEAR's Kindle Fire line. First reactions to 6" Fire HD tablet which is shipping. Kindle-First feature added in the UK. Kindle -First books (US) for October.

Free Washington Post news articles app will be pre-installed, on the new 8.9" Fire HDX tablet

BloombergBusinessWeek's Brad Stone reports that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post, is bringing curated articles from the newspaper to the new Fire Tablet 8.9" HDX model, which will have it, free and pre-installed, upon delivery (shipping Oct. 21).

  Stone adds that "It will eventually be available for download on other Kindles as well as to owners of Apple’s (AAPL) iPad and various Android devices, and it will carry a monthly subscription fee" in those cases.  One can hope that the other Fire tablets will get favored subscription rates on this app, but there will likely be a promo when it's ready for the other devices.

The Washington Post project has been dubbed "Project Rainbow," indicating a colorful and overarching reach as a goal.

Stone notes that Bezos has brought in "100 new journalists while cutting pensions and other retirement benefits for current employees" but that "the resulting buzz has been positive, on balance" and that "David Carr, media columnist at the New York Times, just heralded a recent turnaround in quality: 'The once-embattled newspaper,' he wrote, 'is in the middle of a great run, turning out the kind of reporting that journalists—and readers—live for.'"

The Kindle Fire HD 6" arrives - customer reactions at forum
The response from users, at the forum discussions, to the $99 Fire HD 6" tablet, which was shipped Oct. 2, is very positive.
  Here's the forum discussion on these.

  A couple of early tech reviews:
. Laptop magazine review by Anna Attkisson calls it a "must-have" tablet (especially for its detailed parental controls) and reports: "All around, the tablet feels sturdy and less likely to fall apart than its cheap competitors.  That's unsurprising, since the company told me it splashes the device with freshwater and saltwater, slathers it in sunscreen and drops it from a meter (about 3 feet) high."
  The inexpensive smaller Fire HD 6" and 7" tablets do not have good cameras, however, at that price.
  The 6" HD is lighter and fits in one hand, but the 7" HD has stereo speakers.

. MobileTechReview titles their review "the $99 Tablet Worth Buying" and as usual Lisa Gade has a detailed, 15-minute hands-on video review of the tablet, and she even includes size comparisons with the 6" e-Ink Kindle eReader.  Also, here's her, as usual, very balanced text review.  The tablet doesn't have enough storage for large game apps with complex graphics and action. & It's a tablet for the very budget-minded consumer who still wants one with good quality.

The new Fire OS 4 system features are being added to LAST YEAR's Kindle Fire tablet line also !
Fire OS 4 "Sangria", just launched with the new Fire tablets, is being added to last year's Kindle Fire tablets, according to reports of a letter from Jeff Bezos showing up on some tablets to announce that it'll come in a few weeks.  However, I have an 8.9" Kindle Fire HDX and did not get the letter.  There was a recent update (which I've not reported since it was a maintenance update and contained no new features) but no special communique.
 The 7" HDX was kept as a current tablet this year, not replaced by another 7" model, and some of us were a bit worried about the lack of that letter.

  I made an inquiry to Amazon about this and received confirmation that the lack of that letter on other 3rd Generation tablets doesn't indicate they're being ignored for this update.
" The update will roll back to all 3rd gen Fire tablets - so, Fire HDX 7, Fire HDX 8.9 and Fire HD. "
  Again here is the product page area describing in detail the highly-anticipated features of the new Fire OS 4.

  These features are already being received well on the just-shipped Fire HD 6", mentioned above.

Kindle-First feature now available in the UK as well
The Kindle First program, introduced by Amazon in the U.S. is finally also available in the UK.

  For those who haven't tried it yet, in either country, Amazon offers, each month, 4 of the next month's new releases early and from these you can select one.  They're Editors' Picks, and anyone can buy one of the featured book for $.99 (or UK £0.99).  HOWEVER if you are a Prime (UK prime page here) program member, you get that selection for FREE (capitalization courtesy of Amazon).

For the U.S., Here are October's four now, from releases due for release November.

(As a U.S. customer, I'm not allowed by Amazon UK to see their Kindle book selections.)

Credit: Thanks to Edward Boyhan for noting the Engadget report on BloombergBusinessweek's article.

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(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kindle Tips: Kindle for IOS update version 4.5 mid Sept 2014 (and v4.5.1 yesterday) . Customer forum tips on handling oddities that may occur with iOS 7 and 8.x

The Kindle Forum has a recent announcement that Kindle for IOS, v4.5 has been ready for download.  Apple's problems with iOS 8 and then the abrupt recall of iOS 8.01 last week due to suddenly non-functioning features, for too many, appeared to affect apps.
  Apple's problems with iOS v8.01 update included loss of cellular and WiFi connectivity, lag, sync'g issues, and Touch ID not working for many.

  I waited for things to settle down a bit and am logging this Kindle for iOS update and adding tips and workarounds from customers and Kindle Forum moderators.

  As of a couple of days ago, Apple released iOS 8.02 Friday to fix the problems with iOS 8 and 8.01, but unfortunately, customers are still reporting both cellular call and WiFi problems as well as slowness, affecting several earlier iPhone models.  These will affect apps on the devices too, of course.

  PhonesReview requested feedback on v8.02 and it's not good news.  From the feedback, the problems seem worse for too many.

  But it's time I logged here what the Kindle for iOS update v4.5 has in enhanced features.  Customer and Kindle Support tips from the forum will be below the announcement by Amazon.  ((V4.5.1 was reported by one customer to have been received yesterday.)

 Here's a copy of the announcement (Any bolded emphases are mine).
' Initial post: Sep 18, 2014 01:56 AM PDT
Megan H. - Forum Moderator says:

We're pleased to announce the latest version of Kindle for iOS is now available in the Apple App Store.

What's New in Version 4.5?

Kindle for iOS Version 4.5 makes reading multiple books easier with the handy Kindle Today Widget. Customers also get the ability to copy passages from their books and paste them into text messages, e-mail, and other applications on iOS outside of Kindle.  Readers who encounter words or phrases in other languages can quickly comprehend the author's meaning with a convenient translation feature. This release also includes iOS 8 support, bug fixes, and stability improvements.

* Kindle Today Widget (iOS 8 only - Multi-book readers can now surf between books from anywhere on the device by pulling down the `Today' view and tapping on one of the three titles in the Kindle Widget. They can choose from their most recently opened library titles, like the `jump' function on a TV remote.

* Copy & Paste - Customers asked and we listened. Version 4.5 includes the ability to copy passages from your books and add them to the iOS clipboard for pasting into a text message, e-mail, social media, or other iOS applications outside of Kindle.

* Smart Lookup Translation Card - Authors often include phrases in other languages to add depth or meaning to a story. Readers can now get a full understanding by selecting the word or phrase and viewing the translation card. '

Re the Copy & Paste
Remember that, as with Notes Export, there's an alternate way for you to export notes and highlights from any Kindle book, not just the "Print Replica" textbooks.  Kindle-compatible device- or app owners have a personal, password-protected website that holds your annotations for each book.  You can view them by Your Highlights (which are grouped secondarily by book) or you can choose 'Books.'
You can copy (for emailing or personal logging) and print sections from these.

A few customer tips and feedback from Amazon's Kindle Community forum
The first report was that the app works fine with iOS 7.  Here are some responses of possible interest to readers here:
' Dorsie says
You press the word at the start of the section you want to copy.  When the highlight color circles appear, drag the right control to the and of the last word in the section.  It will allow you to drag to the next page if you need to.  The highlight control bar shows four colors and three b/w controls.  The b/w control third from the right and just to the right of the orange color looks like two overlapping pages.  Press that and the word Copied will pop up.

Now the whole section is in the clipboard and can be pasted into any other app when you press and hold in an input section and select Paste. This could be a word processor or e-mail or any app that allows text input.

LASoundCrafter says:
Great copy function.  Also, they kept the reading feature: I use the triple tap on the home button to turn on "voice over" and the "double swipe" down and Siri starts reading on and on ... The translation feature is very good.  Overall a very stable upgrade.

Cindy says:
No problems with 10000+ books on ipad air.

C. Petko says:
I just upgraded to iOS 8, have upgraded Kindle for ipad, and cannot see the widget for what I am reading today yes, I have two books started if that makes a difference

thebeartrack says:
The translation feature is not working on my iPad using iOS 8.  I have deregistered, deleted the app, many times to no avail. It works fine on my iPhone 5s.  Calling Amazon gave me no help at all.  They said it was an Apple problem......SOS

A call to Apple solved my problem.  I needed to restore as a new iPad and then restore my apps. Works like a champ now!!  I love the translation feature!!! Good job Kindle!!!

R. Thomas says:
I have an iPod, not an iPad, and I wasn't aware of this feature [Kindle Today Widget] until I read your post.

Here's how I figured it out on the iPod, which I just updated this morning.

Pull down the notification pane, the pull down menu from the top - school down and you'll see "edit" and I'm sure you can take it from there.

Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. I nearly always have two or three books going at once , and this is a very nice feature. THANKS!!

lonbeehold says:
Go to the bottom of your notification list when you're in the Today tab on your home screen. You will see an edit button. Tap it to see the apps that you give the option to have a notification appear in the Today tab. Tap Kindle to turn the feature on.

thebeartrack says:
Does anyone have an iPad Air with the Kindle application?  This is what I have but the translation in the dictionary will not function.  It works just fine on my husband's iPad 2 and my iPhone 5s. I have deleted, reinstalled, de registered until I am blue in the face.  I also phoned Amazon and they just told me it is an Apple problem.  Any help out there in the ether????
[ No answer yet ]

KMH says:
In order to have enough storage space in my iPad, I deleted my kindle app so I could download iOS 8.
When I went to reinstall the app, it is stuck in an installing mode. I tried to delete it and start again but it won't let me delete it. It says "installing" and it's been like that for days. Help!!

Dorsie says:
If a simple restart doesn't help, try the hard restart done by pressing and holding both the power and home buttons until it turns off. It won't harm any data or apps. After about ten seconds press and hold the power button until it starts rebooting.

Gabriele says:
...ever since Ive upgraded, my app seems to not download new content.  It keeps saying 'downloading' but never actually does.  Then i'll try a bit later on and it works.  Sometimes i send new content to my kindle app and it doesnt even recognise that i've send anything.  My internet connection is fine and i've tried turning the phone on and off (I read everything on my iphone) but nothing changes.  I've NEVER had this issue before, the only thing i can think of is this upgrade maybe having a bug? Has anyone else had this issue? Any suggestions?

Anna F. Forum Moderator says:
Hi Gabrielle, I'd recommend removing the app and re-downloading it.  If you continue to experience delays in downloading, please contact us through this link:

S. Kessler says:
I tried out the copy and paste function, and it's a little tricky to get just what you want in a passage, but once I tried a few things, I got it to work beautifully.  This is absolutely the best update feature.

shermie says:
...I have been told my older iPad would have difficulties with ios8 so not to update that at this time.

Sonja S. - Forum Moderator says:
Hey shermie, you'll need to have iOS 7 or greater installed. If you don't have iOS 8 installed you won't have access to some of the features, for example the Kindle Today Widget...

Ed says:
Yeah, observed the same distraction with page turn animation. Turned it off.
Library>settings>page animations.

Mary McManus says:
I am using the latest version of iOS7 on an iPad 3 and a mini.  Both of them have the latest Kindle update.  The Kindle app on the iPad3 seems to be working fine but on the mini is very sluggish with page turns, either tapping or swiping there is a delay.  I have flicked the app out of the recently used apps and then did a restart by holding the home and power buttons, but it's still slow.  Any suggestions?

Dorsie says:
Haven't heard of this one, but it could come from hidden copies of books caused by duplicate registrations. If you find you have to delete and reregister anyway, use IPad Setting, General, Usage and let it bring up memory use for all apps. Select the Kindle app and delete it with the Red Delete button. That will get rid of the orphan books/data too. Then use Manage Your Content and Devices and deregister the iPad and any duplicates from there. That gives you a perfectly clean slate at both companies to redownload and reregister the app...

Paul Gorman says:
Looks bad on the iPhone 6 Plus.  I expected to see the whole page like on my iPad mini instead it is an iPhone view.  Don't you know the 6 plus is an iPad micro? :-)

Dorsie says:
The Accessibility Zoom feature can help with this. It's super easy to use and the screen stays stable as you turn pages.

Here's the iOS 8 online manual.
The Accessibility options icon is the fourth icon up from the bottom with all the info on how to use the zoom.

I recommend in Settings, General, Accessibility, Zoom turning off the new features "follow focus" and "show controller and set it to "full screen zoom." Zoom remembers the last magnification you used so it's simple to just tap twice with three fingers to turn it on and off. To see any part of the screen clipped by the zoom, drag with three fingers.

Edit to add: The Zoom works identically on iPads and iPhones. Here's the online manual for iPhone iOS 8.

Hussain Ahmadi says:
I love the kindle widget on ios 8 it saves time as I can go directly in the book.

However, when I finish reading a book how am I supposed to remove it from the widget? Is there any option for that?

David O. - Forum Moderator says:
... Hussain: In Today view, you can jump directly to where you left off in your three most recently read Kindle titles.
[AB Note: I'd think that removing the Kindle book from the device would work also if the developers coded to include in the widget only the most recently read that are still on your device... but i don't know that they did.]
Paul Gorman says:
I am reading a user manual for a camera which has many diagrams.  Then I loaded a page I had been reading on my iPad mini the diagram was half on the page and half outside the border and the text was huge.

Things improved by making the text much smaller which made the whole page real estate bigger and the images fitted into the page. I guess the images are not scaled like the text can be. The application text is still huge as that is not affected by the text being displayed...

Mary McManus says:
If your camera manual is a pdf file, I would highly recommend that you open it in the GoodReader app for the iPad which is superb for reading most any type of file: Word, Pages, pdf, jpegs.  But it is especially good for pdfs.  When I was reading books about World War I, I had saved maps from the internet as pdfs and put them in GoodReader so I could refer to them while reading the books on a Kindle.

Ed says: [in a post dated Sept 29, Monday]
There's a 4.5.1 update for iPad and phones available. '
Forum Source

Kindle reading-app Update - Where?
Go to the page for download instructions.
  If you have iOS 7 or above, the normal steps listed there apply.
The page has an "Important" section for those who are still on iOS versions earlier than iOS 7.

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-Ink readers available for order internationally when not available in country of residence. Interesting what is and isn't available or may be coming (back) soon.

QUICK NOTE: Revised the List of Current Kindles Globally to include new Amazon pages for new (and old) Kindles available for order from those outside the U.S. who need to order these models from Amazon-US rather than from their countries of residence.

  Here's the quick-list of current Kindles, globally. with links.
     I added Amazon's links to new product-pages for Kindles available for purchase
     from their "International" pages.  (The UK section was updated 9/21.)

As of today, for the International-order page, there's no basic Kindle e-Ink Reader, although that can change.

The 'Other Int'l pages' section there starts with the latest Paperwhite 2, which was slightly modified for more storage space and includes the model with '3G' as well.

  It also shows the 9.7" Kindle DX Graphite e-Ink eReader Int'l as being available again in "2 to 4 months" for international buyers.  Until then, it refers you to the page for the U.S. version of the DX which is available now ONLY in "Used" models for now.  They resuscitate this 9.7" eInk reader from time to time though.
  Apparently, someone at Amazon intends to bring back the 9.7" DX e-Ink reader again within months.

  The new 6-inch and 7-inch low-cost Fire HD tablets announced Sept. 17 ARE available for international orders as is the Yr 2013 HDX 7.
  The faster HDX has Mayday help feature but no rear-camera for normal photos.  Both have front-ones for Skype-type use.

  Oddly enough, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" (Yr 2012) tablet has an active International page but shows none available and no new orders possible, ALTHOUGH Amazon's order-box shows this:
  "Want us to email you when this item becomes available?" and asks for your email address.
  This model was notable for having a micro-HDMI-port for simple cable-out to any HDTV tv.

Is it just me, or are there a lot of available models to keep straight?

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Amazon's NEW lineup of e-Readers and Kindle Fire Tablets - First Quick Look 9/17/14 - Updated 9/19 to include Tablet Comparison Table, Trade-in your Kindle page, and more basic information

NEW AMAZON LINEUP, with new Kindle eReaders and UltraFast Fire Tablets
The new lineup of tablets and an ereader was announced Sept. 17, so this was a very quick announcement that night -- details are still being explored for the blog entry I'm working on to expand on the differences.

  Here's a quick-chart of current Kindles, globally.
     Added links to new pages for UK Kindles 9/21/14.

  The new models are ultra-fast versions of Fire tablets + a unique, hardy model specifically for "kids," as well as a new higher-resolution and brighter e-Ink Paperwhite Voyage reader with more contrast and also a new basic low-cost Kindle eReader that's now touch-based for easier navigation.

Originally posted 8:57pm Sept. 17 - Updated Sept. 19

For those who want to just read
KINDLE E-Ink Readers 2014 - Kindle Voyage and new basic Kindle 2014
Amazon's press release blurb includes these descriptions:
"The new Kindle Voyage, our thinnest, most advanced Kindle ever, with our brightest, highest resolution, and highest contrast display, plus reimagined page turns - $199"

  [AB-Note: The 'reimagined' page turns can be activated by pressing on the bezel now without having to reach across the screen to do it, and getting a small vibration that lets you know you've made a page turn (in the way we used to get feedback from the side 'buttons' going down and back up.]

" - New $79 Kindle is small and light, with weeks of battery life, a
20% faster processor, twice the storage, and now with a touch interface" [Finally]

New Fire Tablets - an ultrafast, higher resolution 8.9" model (same pricing) + 6" and 7" basic HD models + a hardy one for "kids"
The new Fire HD 6" 2014 is available for pre-order starting today for $99 for 6” and the Fire HD 7" 2014 at $139 for the 7” model and will begin shipping in October.

ALSO, via BLURBS from Amazon.
" The new Fire HDX 8.9, now higher performance, exclusive new audio, the fastest Wi-Fi and still startlingly light with a stunning HDX display.
  New Fire HDX 8.9 is $379. It is available for pre-order starting today...and will start shipping in October.
  The 4G version is $479 -- you can pre-order today at" the HDX-2014 page "and it will begin shipping in October.

[The current] Fire HDX 7 will continue to be available and will receive the Fire OS 4 update with many of these features later this year.  [You can] order today at [current Kindle Fire HDX 7 page] for just $199. "

  And in more detail, from Amazon's press release:
" Fast and fluid—Fire HDX 8.9 is powered by the latest generation quad-core 2.5 GHz processor and a 70% faster graphics engine

Perfect color, 339 ppi HDX display features Dynamic Light Control which automatically adjusts the color of the display to make the pages of a book more closely resemble a piece of paper in any light

First tablet with Dolby Atmos, plus loud and immersive audio that is twice as loud as the iPad Air

Fire OS 4 “Sangria” adds hundreds of new features and platform enhancements, including Firefly, ASAP, Smart Suspend, and other Amazon-exclusive features

Family Library lets family members easily share apps, games, audiobooks, books, and Prime Instant Video content, even if they use different Amazon accounts [Blog note: a key new feature...]

Free, unlimited cloud storage for photos

New Fire Keyboard is the thinnest and lightest full-featured tablet keyboard, with a trackpad that makes productivity and navigation easier than ever."

They also have a seriously powerful "Kids Edition" of the Fire HD tablet (costing more than the $99 version)
Details are at Fire HD Kids Edition and looks to be made for more durability than the 6" $99 Fire HD version

Click on this smaller image (here for convenience) to get the large version of the new Amazon Fire Tablet Comparison Table.
  Smaller version:

That's the skinny for now.  I'll be exploring the details more and will put them into a more organized blog article, with differences noted.  We have some current models that will stay current, for those who don't need the fastest and most-featured devices, and the new models look promising.

Did you know you can sell-back or trade-in used Kindles to Amazon?
Here's how it's done, with estimated $value for those in good condition.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kindle News: What's Amazon up to? Amazon quietly cuts one E-Ink reader and the Kindle Fire HD 7" tablet. Also changes product pages for this year's Paperwhite models now showing as not-available currently but then shows the new product-detail pages for these as devices Available - there are NO new features mentioned for them. Also, be careful about downloading "Kindle" books from non-Amazon sites. Updated for info on Current Paperwhite 2's.


The two Kindles shown above are apparently discontinued without an announcement (the product pages show no way to order either one and there's no wording that either is "out of stock"), and they don't show up in the Kindle family header anymore.

  John Sauter alerted us about the Kindle "NoTouch" Basic e-Ink eReader's absence from the lineup.

  And there was a quick sale (of only $20) on the Kindle HD 2nd Gen 7" tablet the other day, and now that model is gone also -- but on this one, Amazon offers "Certified Refurbished" versions, which carry the usual 1-year guarantee (and usually a 30-day refund if the buyer decides not to keep it).

The current models as of last week are the 6" Paperwhite eReader and the Fire HDX tablets in 7" and 8.9" form.  But they show the PAPERWHITE models AS not available currently and point us to new pages for both Paperwhite devices, which ARE shown as available -- and yet there are NO new features mentioned.  So, what are they doing? Are those being set up for actual new models coming? It's the oddest product-page change situation I've seen for these devices.

I'm using the old links here, and Amazon has an orange stripe on each one to lead you to the new product-detail pages (no new products or new features are mentioned). You can compare them that way.

  For the record, the NEW product-detail pages for each are new Paperwhite WiFi page and new Paperwhite WiFi/3G page.
  NOTE added Sept. 19: These are new PAGES for the still-current older Paperwhite 2's (and not for the totally new Paperwhite "Voyage" announced a day after this blog entry.

  (It doesn't help that Amazon has described both as "or 3G" -- but ignore that.)

  Maybe they're coming out with mildly upgraded hardware.  Will update as I find out more.

An alert from The Digital Reader
Nate Hoffelder reports, "Your Amazon Account Can be Hacked via a Kindle eBook from a non-Amazon site." for
  The hackers involved insert a script into the e-book, which, when added to your Kindle library, can start the script when you open the Kindle Library web page.

  "As a result, Amazon account cookies can be accessed by and transferred to the attacker and the victim’s Amazon account can be compromised."  More details in the article.

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Amazon App for Android Phone finally gets Prime Instant Video Viewing. Fire TV (for viewing videos on TV) expanding to the UK and Germany.

Note that this app is optimized for the Android phone (different dimensions from tablets), which when run will install the Amazon Prime Instant Video viewer the first time you choose a video. The video viewer will then always run from inside the Amazon for Android app.

  The Android app's product page has an alternate title of "Amazon App or Android," which probably means the version specifically for Android tablets could be coming later.

Those currently trying to use this on Android tablets with the older Android app for tablets will tend to find this doesn't work and will need to use the Amazon App for Android Phone (quietly released August 28) that supports the Prime Instant Video viewing.  For some tablets, the phone-focused app works.

. Reports from users are that it works well on Nexus 5 and 7 (and Cast Screen to the TV works with Prime); and Galaxy s5 at high resolution.  These are from early reports I viewed.

. Devices reported by users to have problems with the app currently:
  Some Galaxy Tab 3 phones, Galaxy S4, HTC One M8, Galaxy Note 2014, LG G3

    (Until the problems on some devices are resolved, you can always use
      the old workaround while making sure that you use the Amazon setting recommended
    and linked to in that article -- 'Flash' rather than 'Silverlight.
    This recommendation is mainly for the workaround.)

A main source of discontent (already) is that the app does not support Google's Chromecast device (to send video to the TV).
  Any who are eager to get it working on their TV in the meantime are able, however, to get the Amazon Fire TV box, for $99, which is both faster and much more capable, performance-wise, and has far more features.  You can view the Prime Instant video on the TV and run it from the Cloud, freeing up your phone or tablet for other activity.  You can also do simple mirroring, without lag.

  Fire TV is UK and Germany bound
    The box is expanding to the UK and Germany, shipping Oct. 23 in the UK and Jan. 1, 2015.

  Some articles on the Fire Tv:
* "The Set-Top Box That'll Read Your Mind" - Huffington Post, UK
* "...possibly the best single set-top box available ..."
* "I bought the Amazon Fire TV, and I love it which ends with a link to the full, more balanced review.  The Voice search is getting some cooperation, by the way, from both Netflix (down the line) and from Hulu already.
*   Recent improvements for Prime Instant Video on Fire TV.

I like the Chromecast for its portability, but I think the FireTV is a natural for those (especially families) who want to watch Prime Instant videos on their TV's with no-fuss and no lag.

BACK to the Amazon App for Android Phone and its Prime Instant Video viewer

From today's press release
Title: Prime Instant Video Now Available on Android Phones -- Exclusively Via the Amazon Appstore

Date(s): 9-Sep-2014 9:00 AM

Prime members can now enjoy unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes on their Android phones, including HBO shows such as The Sopranos, True Blood and The Wire, as well as popular series like Downton Abbey, Under the Dome, 24, Extant, and Suits, and the Amazon Original series Alpha House--and for kids, exclusive subscription streaming access to SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, and Amazon Original shows for kids, Tumble Leaf, Creative Galaxy and Annedroids

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sep. 9, 2014-- (NASDAQ:AMZN) -- Amazon today announced that Prime members in the US, UK and Germany can now enjoy Prime Instant Video on their Android phones. The latest update of the Amazon App for Android combines the fast and easy mobile shopping experience customers have come to know and love with access to unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes from Prime Instant Video. After updating their existing Amazon App for Android, customers wishing to stream Prime Instant Video movies and TV episodes can install the Prime Instant Video player app, which is delivered exclusively via the Amazon Appstore. Prime members can enjoy popular HBO series like The Sopranos, True Blood, and The Wire, as well as favorites like Downton Abbey, Under the Dome, and 24, on their Android phones at no additional cost to their membership. Eligible customers who are not already Prime members can sign up for a 30-day free trial to start receiving all of the benefits of Prime using the updated Amazon App for Android. Customers who don't yet have the Amazon App for Android can get the latest version at

The new Amazon App for Android phones provides an award-winning mobile shopping experience on hundreds of millions of physical goods and now enables customers to discover and purchase all of Amazon's digital catalog.

The new Amazon App for Android includes:

Hundreds of millions of items for purchase, along with Customer Reviews, 1-Click purchase and access to account and delivery information
Tens of thousands of movies and TV shows available for unlimited streaming for Prime members, including favorite HBO shows such as The Sopranos, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under and The Wire, and Amazon Original series like Alpha House, Tumble Leaf, Creative Galaxy and Annedroids
More than 200,000 movies and TV episodes to rent or buy
Over 30 million songs
More than two million Kindle books, along with over 150,000 audiobooks and more than 600,000 exclusive books that customers won't find anywhere else
5GB of free photo back-up with Amazon Cloud Drive
"Tens of millions of our customers have installed the Amazon app on their Android phones in order to enjoy the ease and convenience of shopping Amazon on the go," said Paul Cousineau, Director of Mobile Shopping. "Now, the latest Amazon App for Android combines that award-winning mobile shopping experience with access to Amazon's digital products and services, including unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost for Prime members. At Amazon, we are always innovating on behalf of our customers and we look forward to receiving their feedback on this enhanced shopping experience."

Customers can visit for more information about the new Amazon App for Android.

Prime Instant Video Exclusives

Prime Instant Video is the exclusive online-only subscription home for a large and constantly-expanding selection of hit series, making it the go-to destination for Prime members who want to stay up to date on their favorite shows. Popular choices include HBO classics The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome and Six Feet Under, recent HBO favorites Eastbound & Down, Enlightened and Flight of the Conchords, and select seasons of current HBO series True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Treme. Other hit TV show exclusives include PBS series Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, FX dramas The Americans and Justified, as well as 24, Orphan Black, Falling Skies, Hannibal, Grimm, Workaholics, Suits, Covert Affairs, Teen Wolf, Veronica Mars, CBS summer blockbuster series Under the Dome and now, Extant. Prime Instant Video also offers an exclusive collection of kids shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. that customers won't find on any other online-only subscription service, including favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Blue's Clues, and The Bubble Guppies. Airing now, Amazon's first original series Alpha House and Betas and first original kids series Tumble Leaf can be found exclusively on Prime Instant Video as well.

Customers can enjoy Prime Instant Videos on hundreds of compatible Amazon Instant Video devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Fire phone, Kindle Fire HDX, Kindle Fire HD, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation and the Wii. Prime Instant Video is the only U.S. online subscription streaming service that enables offline viewing--on a plane, on vacation, and anywhere else where you may not have Wi-Fi. Customers can download tens of thousands of Prime Instant Video titles to their new Kindle Fire HD or Kindle Fire HDX.

About Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video is a digital video streaming and download service that offers Amazon customers the ability to rent, purchase or subscribe to a huge catalog of videos. Customers can choose from more than 200,000 titles to purchase or rent--movies range from new releases to classic favorites, and Amazon Instant Video offers major television shows, entire seasons, or even day after air TV. Prime Instant Video is Amazon's video subscription offer--it includes tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes selected from the full assortment available at Amazon Instant Video.

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The Amazon Fire Phone expands to UK and Germany - shipping dates

The Fire Phone is now expanding to the UK and Germany.

  UK page       Germany page

 This should go with yesterday's Fire Phone blog entry but it's already too large.

Bloomberg gives details under the headline "Deutsche Telekom, O2 Agree to Sell Amazon’s Fire Phone in Europe":
"Amazon will begin selling the devices on Sept. 30 in the two countries in deals with Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE), Germany’s largest carrier, and Telefonica SA (TEF)’s O2 brand in the U.K. Customers can pre-order the smartphones starting yesterday."
As seen on the product pages, they're available for pre-order there already.

The eteknix site reports that the phone has been updated and improved since its initial launch and that the "battery life has been improved upon as well and said to give around 10-15% more duration now.  The Amazon OS will get an update to its speech recognition software upon launch to handle the different British accents it’ll have to deal with now."

See yesterday's Fire Phone article for details on what's included with the phone.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Amazon's 3D Fire Phone now 99 cents with a 2 year data plan. A free year of (normally $99) Prime is included also. UPDATE1 for 64GB model price. UPDATE2 for AT&T Next 18 option

Amazon indicated today that the 3D Fire Phone is a key device for them and they've decided to be ultra competitive (the iPhone 6 is due to be announced tomorrow but it won't be a low-cost item nor have most of the features described below), and Apple is finally catching up to Android phones by making the larger phone so many have wanted but which Apple said was not the ideal size, until now. Those who rely on Apple apps should stay with Apple though!

At the top, I'm including most of the blog entry I made of the points made about the Fire Phone during their launch, with the original $199 cost now lower by $198, at 99 cents.

  Below that, I'll re-print the pertinent portions of their press release so you can read their new-pricing points, without interpretation.

  NOTE: Some reviews have said that the Fire Phone can't access Google Play for its apps.  However, as with the tablets, the phone has the regular Android Setting to enable installation of apps from "unknown sources" (meaning Non-Amazon store), I'm told (my review copy is late getting here), and that includes 1Mobile appstore, which has over 800,000 Android apps, most from Google, many from Amazon.  Get the apps from Amazon appstore when available there, as they go through heavy testing.

Here are added FIRE PHONE info-updates.

  Amazon still includes the Limited time offer that
offers a full year of Amazon Prime" (normal cost of Prime is $99)
  If you aren't a Prime member, you'll get a full year of Prime with Fire phone. If you already have Prime, we'll extend your membership for a full year."

UPDATE1 - 2:30 PM
  The Fire Phone starts now at $0.99 for 32GB and I received an answer to my question about the 64GB model this afternoon -- it'll be $99, down from $299, with a 2-year monthly data plan with AT&T.  That's for people who expect to store a lot on the phone, even with access to the Cloud storage.

  Essentially then, the phone with 32GB is is 99 cents with Prime also, thrown in (normally $99), with 2 yrs of a monthly data plan.
  And the 64GB model will be $99 (earlier it was $299).  The product pages are being updated.

UPDATE2 - 10:15 PM
Amazon's wording at the end of the Press Release mentions the cost of AT&T's "Next 18" plan (for those buying the phone and AT&T's new plan on a monthly basis and who plan to use only 2GB per month during a month):
' Fire is available exclusively on AT&T - the nation's most reliable 4G LTE network. Fire with 32GB is available for 99 cents with a two-year contract or $0 down and $18.75 per month (for 24 months) with AT&T NEXT 18. '
  The Nitty Gritty - Here is Amazon's Comparison Chart of actual costs for:
    the "Next 18" plan against the normal 2-year plan.
    BOTH require a 24-mo. plan.  However, after 18 mos. on the Next 18 plan,
      you're eligible to a free Update to a new smartphone, and the
    the activation fee is $0 vs the 2-yr plan's no free update plus $40 activation.
    It's a minor difference down the road.

  So, the normal 2-year plan saves almost $5 per month for 2 years, but there's no free update eligibility after 18 mos, and there's an activation charge.

  Phone-buying Reality -- As usual, even with $0 smartphones, one must pay the tax on the actual or normal cost of the phone, in this case $450 (even if paying just $0 or 99 cents for the phone).

The 3D-simulation on Amazon's product-page image is pretty impressive.  Am not placing it here, as eInk Kindle subscribers to the Kindle Edition of the blog can't view video. :-)  Thanks again to the subscribers for continued support of the blog.

Content described during launch is shown below

While the 3D aspects should be novel and fun for awhile, many were looking forward to a good plan but especially since it's been said to be exclusive to AT&T (which seemed a hint they may have worked out a good deal for customers and Amazon with AT&T to get that exclusive).

 The limited-time offer of 1 yr of free Prime made it a better deal than most even at the original pricing, and now the cost of a new, very high-tech smartphone with advanced features is only $1~, coming with a Bonus of free Prime ($99 value) for the first year as well, if you get a 2-year monthly data plan with AT&T.

In addition to the five total front cameras, the back camera uses optical character recognition that can capture and convert text (and will recognize many videos and songs by 'hearing' or 'seeing' them).

  Turns out that the Fire Phone can read an image to get, say, a phone number but, not only that, it can realize that a graphic element confused it and that the area code is not a valid one and then can fetch the information to correct it).

Prime apparently has "tens of millions" of subscribers -- and we know that Prime will be the big factor here, as we've seen with video and music features (along with Kindle book loans and 2-day free shipping) on millions of items.  As you saw in a previous blog entry here, the original 5,000 Kindle books in the Prime Library for free lending of one-book per calendar month has grown to over 500,000.

Opening PR at the launch reminded us that Foresee and YouGov branding charts both list Amazon as No. 1 in customer service.

The Fire Phone with FIREFLY scanning
Claims on slides shown, for the most part:  (I'll double space these after editing, and also highlight a few aspects that were more interesting to me, for easier reading.)
. Rubberized frame, Gorilla Glass, aluminum buttons.

. Premium materials, scratch resistant

. 4.7" inch IPS LCD HD display

. Quad core 2.2 Ghz processor, Adreno 330 graphics processor, and 2 GB of RAM.

. Designed to be "Beautiful, comfortable, durable"

. Injection-molded steel connectors

. Focus on making it Better than usual for outdoor viewing

. Great imaging hardware
      with 13 MP rear-facing camera, f/2 5-element lens, optical image stabilization

. "Don't miss the shot" -- instant fast access to camera from a button.

. Free Unlimited Photo Storage

. Dual stereo speakers (Stereo audio in Landscape), Virtual surround sound, Dolby Digital Plus

. Free Mayday Help/Support feature -- (video support by customer reps and AT&T reps within 15 seconds when you need help) is included.  You see the rep, who does not see you but you can hear each other, and the reps can not only show you how to do something, they can do it for you.)

. You can watch material on HDTV, 2nd screen, Miracast, plus Xray for movies and tv

. Flat cables, earphones included

. Netflix, HBO Go, ESPN, Youtube, and Showtime apps are included and ready to go.

. includes of course the new Prime Music feature (free for members) -
      over 1 million songs with unlimited free streaming.

. More than a few Music apps and services

. "Semantic Boosting" helps to get the phone number right by eliminating invalid numbers.

. Firefly scanning feature "scrapes" the image for relevant info [via optical character recognition], compressing a large image file to a smaller one with only small bits of info.  That helps the phone send the info to its cloud service to process the image and get appropriate info or answers quickly.

. Reminder about the X-ray feature, now using Firefly also.  As with tablets, if it recognizes the show, it pulls up info on the actors, specific episode, and scene via Amazon's IMDB database.  I expect this works with Amazon Prime but not with Netflix and Hulu Plus etc., as they control the stream with Prime video.

    HOWEVER, the Firefly scanning feature has had a lot of training by Amazon and itself can "recognize" movies, TV episodes, music, and get info for X-Ray.  I've added Amazon's description of Firefly functions at the bottom of this post, as it is a very impressive feature, activated by the press of a physical button on the phone.

. Firefly recognizes a hundred million different items in real-world situations.

. The image changes as you move your phone (or head) and perspective.

. A MAP application was shown next, in 3D

. They zoomed into the Empire State Building image, and it's said this looks a lot better than previous attempts at 3D on similar devices

. Various web sites are very impressed with the 3D implementation.  Most writers I read had been skeptical about it based on previous attempts by other companies.

. In the web browsing -- "auto scroll" - you can scroll by tilting the phone (I'm not sure I'd want that, but they pointed out that can be turned off when wanted, which is what I would do.)

. You can pin other apps to the app grid.  They have the Carousel with latest apps accessed at the top.

. Get in and out of apps with widgets (shown on slide) without having to load up a full app

. Music app.  As with the tablets, we can see the lyrics synchronized (highlighting current line) with songs for which they received the rights for that.
      Song info is in one panel - lyrics in a panel to the right.

. Games: You can tilt the phone to look at different perspectives in a game.

. "Dynamic Perspective" - They started working on this 4 years ago and had prototypes working in the first week.

. The phone has a wider range of view for the front camera to cover the area needed for tracking head movement and whatever else needed to make the 3D simulation work well.

. At least two of the Fire Phone's four corner cameras and center camera can find your eyes, creating stereovision.

. To have it work in the dark, they added infrared lights, one in each camera.

. Dynamic Perspective sensor system -- "uses four ultra-low power specialized cameras -- the smallest globally shuttered cameras in existence -- plus four infrared LEDs for invisible illumination, real-time computer vision algorithms, and a custom graphics engine rendering at 60 fps" [frames per second]."

. They used "millions of images from thousands of faces from all around the world" while testing this.

. While trying to find the user's head and eyes for perspective-use, the cameras -could- during development be fooled by another head that happened to be in the picture (as in an image on a t-shirt).  They say they fixed the usual problems with seeing multiple-faces in that case.

. Developers can develop 3D apps for viewing homes while shopping, etc.

. You can silence your ringer for 3 hours.  After that, it turns back on.
      This would help me since I forget to turn it back on and then can't use a landline to call my cellphone to find out where it is :-)

. Price: Now 99 cents for 32GB phone (to be $99 for a 64GB model), with a 2 year monthly data plan, and this includes a limited-time offer of a free one-year Prime membership, w/ 2 yr contract and same Prime deal.

Addendum: More about Firefly and what it does (from product page)
  You just press the physical button on the side of the Fire Phone to "take action on"
' Phone numbers, web, and email addresses
Firefly identifies printed text on posters, magazines, and business cards -- make calls, save new contacts, send emails, and visit websites without typing long addresses.

Movies & TV
Firefly recognizes over 240,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels.  Firefly uses X-Ray, powered by IMDb, to show information on actors, plot details, and related content -- add titles to your Watchlist or download to watch later.

Firefly recognizes songs so you can access artist information, play related songs, download albums direct to your Fire phone, or add them to your Wish List to purchase later on.  With Firefly-enabled apps like iHeartRadio and StubHub, you can create radio stations based on an identified artist, or even find tickets for their next show.

Over 70 million products
Recognize household items, books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and more.  Access product details, add items to your Wish List, or order on Amazon straight from your Fire phone. '

Amazon's 3D FIRE PHONE at 99 cents with a 2-year plan is available here

From today's press release
Title: Amazon Fire Phone Now 99 Cents with Two-Year Contract

Date(s): 8-Sep-2014 11:11 AM
Plus, one year of Prime membership included
Free unlimited cloud storage for photos
World-class customer support with Mayday--24x7, 365 days a year
32GB Storage--Standard
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sep. 8, 2014-- (NASDAQ: AMZN)--Dynamic Perspective, Firefly, world-class customer support with Mayday, free unlimited cloud storage for photos, 32GB of storage--and, for a limited time, customers get 12 months of Prime membership with Fire phone, which includes unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes from Prime Instant Video, access to over a million songs to download or stream from Prime Music, over 500,000 books to borrow from Kindle Owners' Lending Library and free two-day shipping on tens of millions of items. Now there's another great reason to buy Fire--it's just 99 cents with a two-year contract. Customers can purchase Fire on [and at AT&T stores nation wide].
"Fire is now 99 cents with a two-year contract, plus customers get one full year of Prime included," said Ian Freed, Vice President, Amazon Devices. "With access to all of the Prime content, Mayday, 32GB of memory and free unlimited cloud storage for photos, plus the exclusive Dynamic Perspective and Firefly features, Fire is another example of the value Amazon delivers to customers."
See what Amazon Fire customers are saying:
  • "The best part of the phone is the integration with Prime - I've switched all of my iTunes music over to Amazon Music and have bought a few albums from my phone. The sound from the included headphones is amazing. I've watched some movies and read some books - all synced to my Kindle Fire HDX and the movies with my Fire TV."
  • "Mayday: I feel this truly separates this phone from every other phone in the market. It's like having someone available 24x7 to help you out with your phone...and, there is no charge for that 'ever.'"
  • "Love it, better than the iPhone I had, Better pictures and better screen...My wife is switching from her iPhone 5 to Fire since she has checked out my FIRE."
  • "I've had three Kindle Fire tablets, and this Fire phone hooks seamlessly to their ecosystem of books and videos, which I use heavily in my professional work so that's important to me."
  • "The Firefly feature is fun, and the camera takes fabulous pictures and videos."
  • "If you're an Amazon Prime user, it can't get better than this. The support for the Amazon ecosystem is amazing."
Fire is the only smartphone with Dynamic Perspective and Firefly, two breakthrough technologies that allow you to see and interact with the world through a whole new lens. Fire features an advanced, 13MP rear-facing camera with backside illumination, LED flash, 5-element f/2.0 lens, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), and high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities for beautiful, crisp photos, even in low-light conditions. Fire also includes a 2.1MP front-facing camera, and photos taken with Fire receive free, unlimited cloud storage.
Additionally, the Amazon Appstore has seen tremendous growth with the rate of app submissions to the Appstore more than doubling in the weeks following the Fire phone launch in the U.S. Recent additions include: Fly Delta, Bank of America, At Bat, Tetris Blitz, Uno With Friends, Venmo, and World Series of Poker as well as the tens of thousands of others already available for Fire - FacebookFacebook Messenger, Flixster, Instagram, Pandora, PinterestSpotify, StubHub, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Customers are also enjoying the use of Dynamic Perspective within apps and games--3 of the top 7 downloaded apps and games, incorporate features of Dynamic Perspective.
In the U.S., Fire is available exclusively on AT&T  - the nation's most reliable 4G LTE network. Fire with 32GB is available for  99 cents with a two-year contract or $0 down and $18.75 per month (for 24 months) with AT&T NEXT 18.
[ End of the press release segment ]

Note you can also buy it from AT&T at one of their stores.  But when buying a device, many prefer to buy from Amazon.

Again, in addition to the 32GB model at 99 cents with a 2-year data plan with AT&T, Amazon is pricing the 64GB model at $99 ($200 off the opening price in July), although the product page isn't updated for that yet.

Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

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