Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kindle Fire Update v6.3 now READY.. Here's what it has, + my comments. Updates

KINDLE FIRE UPDATE v6.3 is apparently almost upon us

UPDATE - I've revised the title of the post, to keep the below info intact in one blog posting, but as of 3/28, Wednesday, the software v6.3 is ready for download.
  Download it at the software-update page (good instructions there) and also read the comments to get a fuller picture on Amazon's described changes before or after you've downloaded it. [End of Update]

ORIGINAL POST INFO from 3/27/12 - 11:55 AM
They say it'll be over the air and that if we want it sooner we can download it when it'a made available.  Since Amazon doesn't announce software updates much in advance (and usually after the fact), it must mean it's "around the corner, I can see, where it is, gonna be soon." (Sorry, am an old WSS fan).

Update: A couple of forum members have received it over the air already, while others have rebooted and don't have it yet.

Until then they want you to be sure you've got on your Kindle the latest v6.2.2 and the usual instructions are there for downloading it.  But you can also see my blog posting that explains that update and then takes you there to complete it.

I will copy in here what they've written on that software update page today, as it will change once the v6.3 software is released on that same page (the usual method) while adding my own comments for some of the (good) changes that are coming.
'Coming soon: A new, free over-the-air software update will soon be available for Kindle Fire that includes:
  • Sharing: Customers will be able to easily share favorite passages and notes from their books directly from Kindle Fire, without even leaving the book. Customers simply highlight a passage and select "Share" or choose the "Share" option from the toolbar within a book, write a note if they choose, and select which social network to share with. Passages or notes a customer chooses to share will be displayed to other Kindle readers viewing the same book, and customers can also choose to share via Facebook and Twitter. Amazon already has a vibrant community of readers who choose to share favorite passages and notes from their reading through This update brings these notes and highlights to Kindle Fire, so a reader can easily see what other readers are saying about their books.
  • Book Extras: Powered by Shelfari, Amazon's community of book lovers, Book Extras make it easy for customers to see supplemental material about the book they are reading, without even leaving the book. Customers can view descriptions of characters, a glossary of common terms used in the book, information on the authors and common locations referenced in the book, and more. To view Book Extras from within a book, customers simply tap the top of the screen to bring up the toolbar, tap the menu button and select "Book Extras."

      [ This would be what X-Ray provides to e-Ink Kindle Touch currently. ]
  • Archive of Personal Documents: Customers' personal documents will be stored in the Amazon Cloud and available for re-download at any time from the Documents tab on Kindle Fire.  Just as with Kindle books, Whispersync will automatically sync notes, highlights and last page read for personal documents.  [MUCH begged for requested by Kindle Fire customers!  This is a very welcome feature.]
  • Print Replica Textbooks: Students can buy thousands of print replica textbooks to read on their Kindle Fire and save up to 60% off the list price of the print textbook.  Print replica textbooks maintain the rich formatting, color and layout of the print editions, with features including notes and highlights, zoom and pan, linked table of contents, real page numbers and whispersync of notes, highlights and last page read.
  • Reading View for Amazon Silk: There is a seemingly endless array of interesting and engaging content available on the Internet.  Sometimes, unfortunately, that business article, blog post, or sports recap you clicked on is surrounded by a host of competing material.  With Immersion Mode on Silk, the content that you're interested in is elevated above the clutter.

    When invoked by the customer, Silk will load the body of the page in a reading-optimized, single screen view (even for multi-page articles).  The full page is still available in the background, allowing the reader to easily toggle back to a traditional view to see other interesting features on the page.
  • [ AB speaking here whenever in brackets: This will be like 'Article Mode' in e-Ink Kindle 3 and later Kindles and like the Article-textview options we see with magazine viewing tablet magazine apps. FOR NOW or as a good alternative later, also know that you can *double-tap" the webpage story column on a Kindle Fire, and it will fit the article to the width of the KFire, getting rid of the other-info or ad boxes in another column that would otherwise show on the page. AND THEN:   Pinch-zoom-enlarge the resulting column text and the article *reformats the current column at that new size you want to the width of the KFire. (Repeat as desired.)   ( With Kindle Touch e-Ink, you SINGLE-tap to get the same effect when reading tiny webpage font, width will fit text and larger fonts if you like, along with the old alternate choice of easier-to-read "Article Mode," but links aren't clickable in Article Mode on the e-Ink Kindles.)]
  • Movie Rentals: The rental period for movie rentals that are downloaded to Kindle Fire now starts when a customer starts watching the movie, rather than when a customer starts downloading the movie.
  • [ This is HUGE.  For too long, the rental period has started when a person downloaded the rental, even if they'd not opened it yet, and then some found that the rental had already expired during the vacation when they opened it.   In this case, when many of us wrote to Amazon that this just had to be changed, they've gone ahead and made the software change.]
  • Additional Enhancements: This update will also bring some of the features customers have requested, including faster re-connect of Wi-Fi after Kindle Fire has been asleep, and general performance enhancements. '

All good to read, no?  Something to look forward to.

Kindle Touch 3G, US-only   Kindle Touch WiFi (US)   Kindle Touch WiFi-Only, outside US    Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
Kindle Keybd 3G   (UK: Kindle Keybd 3G)   K3 Special Offers   K3-3G Special Offers   DX

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published ones
  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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  1. Definitely looking forward to it! Looking forward to Immersion Mode in the Silk browser. Yes, I know about the double-tap + pinch-zoon method, but Immersion Mode sounds easier to operate.

    Also looking forward to archived personal documents. Hopefully they'll let us sort by date so the latest version will be at the top instead of buried in a list.

  2. SK, I'm hoping the hyperlinks will be activated in Immersion Mode, as they're not in the e-Ink models' 'Article View' (which is a real pleasure otherwise).

    Me too on the archived personal docs!

    Since Books amd Docs both (on KFire v6.2.2) have "By Recent as a choice, I imagine we'll have latest-date-accessed at least.

  3. I still want to be able to sort my book library into categories like on the Kindle keyboard.

    1. Susan, sure. It seems the most-requested item. Until they do something like that, I'm using the flexibility of the Favorites area below the Carousel. You can put a book or app or webpage in any slot on that series of shelves.

      This way you can move books that belong together and see them together, in the order you want them, on those shelves.

      The KFire has only 5.5 gigs avalable to us, in the type of device that holds larger multimedia files (video, mp3s, etc) that take considerably more room to store.

      So, for the Kindle Fire, I download usually only the books I actually want to read soon or concurrently.

      Maybe that'll help until Amazon does something like Collections?

  4. Hope they fix Personal Documents soon also, so it handles KF8. It would be nice if PD PDF file annotations were synched (since they're doing it for Print Replica).

    "Immersion Mode" sounds great, especially if you can set a font preference. Now if only it would send web article to PD service for offline reading!

    Wonder why they did not stick with 'X-Ray' in describing the feature. Maybe it is different in some way—which could be a good thing. But the description seems rather odd. Really, you tap the top of the screen to reveal a toolbar? then a Menu button? What else is on the Menu?

    Still no TTS, no Installable dictionaries, no localized UI?

    As it happens, I've all but abandoned my Kindle Touch in favor of my Fire, just in the last couple of weeks. I may never go back. I'm kind of surprised about this turn of events, given how almost great I used to think KT was not so long ago, while not being that impressed with Fire (though I got them at the same time). Somehow, I've changed my preference. Maybe I just got tired of waiting for Amazon to finish KT's software (landscape, KF8, fix some annoyances), of the way the screen collects crud with its thick bezel, the idiosyncratic touch zones. Who knows.

    1. Maybe the concept of x-ray was a better fit with b&w e-Ink. Maybe this one will be a laser probe or something :-)

      Since I'm web focused and like Hulu and other videos, I'm more often on the KFire but it's the KTouch when reading outside the house...

    2. Okay, so it is not 'X-Ray' after all: just Shelfari Book Extras (which get downloaded for offline reading, but apparently you can edit them if you are online, which is cool and something X-Ray does not do.

      Immersion Mode is nice, you can adjust text size as well. It's a little odd, in that the column of text can be panned off screen, as if the viewport width was not set correctly (my first use was with a wikipedia article). Bug or feature?

      I'll have to try a print replica sample. I'm a little skeptical that the screen is big enough.

      Sharing is kind of fun as you can see other people's posts and their comments.

    3. Tom, true. The Shelfari Book Extras are actually pre-installed in an associated file with the book so you don't have to get them to download even. It's odd that we can edit them online (since they're with the book and I suppose an edit would entail yet another associated file but why only when online?, I wonder).

      Immersion Mode or now, Reading View or something like that, can sometimes be to the edges and off a bit. One tap will set the text to set on one edge or the other and just fit. Other times, it leaves nice margins at both edges and I guess it depends on the source material. It's very smart.

      That it includes links is great and sometimes it formats the material really well.

      It finds the material for the article, from a NORMAL-fullview webpage, unlike Article View with e-Ink models. But since we're not identifying the article for this feature, it IDs and lays out the article, which takes a little time, and when it's done, the eyeglasses icon comes on at the bottom so that we know we can use it.

      Until then, I double tap the web-article as-is, to get it to a nice size and width (I've got my web-text set to 'large' now in web-settings, which is nice for articles at default and yet will obey the "full view" or "overview" webpage-view setting when first viewing the page.

      Sharing when you want to is nice. In a book I seldom do, on e-Ink, but I've left others' underlining on to see what strikes others as important. turned quietly into a sharing and follow page but I've kept mine private so far. For a book club it'd be nice to have the sharing that way and better if it was limited to a group (which maybe they do).

      The X-ray feature I most use is listing the characters on a page and then letting me find their previous occurrences via text/context and with linked. locations. Saves time from having to Search each one. Unfortunately, that's the very thing that is missing. The "important" characters thing is nice, but there were a few and then '50 more' with a click and for some reason it was very laggy to try to scroll through it and too many names didn't have info on them.

      I prefer the X-ray feature in the e-Ink, unfortunately, vs Book Extras via Shelfari and will just have to use Search for each character when I want to remember where they fit in, in the book.

  5. No text-to-speech yet? I'll keep the ICS ROM

    1. Pedro, you're definitely focused. Hope you're enjoying the Ice Cream Sandwich and that it's running well on the KFire.

    2. I do like Voice Search on ICS. Works with Kindle app to find things in item list.

    3. Tom, my Samsung 10.1" Tab (which I got for $320) has Honeycomb and that uses Google Voice, including in the Kindle App searches.

      It's more accurate in understanding than the Samsung voice interpreter. When I was at a dog park, noisy outside, dogs barking, and I was sitting at a cafe table outside, I did a google search, saying "hot air balloon ride valley of the kings video" and Google went straight to my videoclip.

      Then I went back to Google Search, turned around and muttered to a friend about 4 sentences about how it did what it does, since I didn't want it to pick up what I was saying for translation, but then I turned around and there was everything I'd said, typed out and accurate. It was amazing to me. I was at about 1/4 voice.

  6. I got the new update my biggest question is where did my comma go? Am I the only one having that issue?

    1. It's on the '.' key (along with a bunch of other punctuation characters). ',' is the default, so you can just hold for a moment and lift to type it. If you are already on the 123!? layout, the same trick works.

    2. It looks like they combined the comma into the period key. Longpressing that key gets a comma.

    3. Me again with the wonky Aa function.

      It seems I can't change the typeface anymore either. I prefer the verdana sans serif but it seems stuck at Times Roman.

      I've rebooted again but no joy :(

    4. Anonymous with wonky Aa function,
      Ooh, I dislike Times Roman on the KFire. I tried them all out, one after another, and then in reverse, and skipped around. Maybe try to loosen it up that way?

      Also, have you tried the LONG reboot - it's like resetting your computer if something's amiss with memory functioning. Press the power button for about 21 seconds. Let it go and it should take its time but be back in working order after that. Sometimes you have to press Power button on afterward, but not usually.

      If all that fails, call Kindle support at 1-866-321-8851 if in U.S. You can also go to to have them call you back within seconds or, if you prefer choose email, but phone help is (for me) always better.

      Good luck. How frustrating!

  7. My kFire booted to 6.3 today and it looks like Color mode is broken for me in the Aa function.

    Press the black background button to read in the dark and the whole screen goes black... no white letters anymore :(

    1. Anonymous, I chose sepia and it worked right off. Be on a page with lots of text. Try making it sepia. If that works, then try making it black and see if that works...

    2. Hmmm. Oddly the wonkinesss happens only with one book, "Wired" by Douglas Richards. Sepia works just as white does but selecting black loses all text (or rather it becomes invisible). Likewise it's the only book that won't change fonts.

      Aa functions works fine on "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" and "Republican Gomorrah".

      So maybe there's something wrong with the ebook.

      No biggie, as long as it's just one book.

    3. BTW. I tried the 21 second revolt but it didn't seem to help.

    4. Anonymous, that's probably a TOPAZ book yet, the bane of Kindle customers. Some publishers insist on embedding their own fonts and their own format and they don't allow changes in layout.

      Topax books end in ".azw1" rather than ".azw"

      Glad it's not your KFire.

    5. I don't see TOPAZ, but the Amazon description says the publisher is Paragon.

      As a another data-point (an admitedly geeky term), I also have a Lenovo Ideapad A1 with the Kindle app. I only downloaded Wired a few days ago and I know I read the book in bed (in the dark) in "black mode" (white text and black background), but I can't recall whether it was with the Lenovo or the Kindle Fire. For that reason, I can't say for sure whether the problem resulted from the 6.2.2 -> 6.3 upgrade. That was my only concern.

    6. Anon of the data-points, did you check the file extension though? It's *.azw1
      that ends any Topaz file names.

      If it IS an *.azw1 it'd be great to know, so we can let Amazon know to do something different there with white on black. If it is a normal file, I'd call Kindle Customer support to let them know about it. Glad the other Kindle books seem okay so far.

    7. I'm still a novice so I don't know where to look for these file extensions.

      Hooking up the kFire to my notebook, I can see a books folder containing a mix of *.prc and *.mbp files, plus a subfolder called covers.

      Searching the whole kFire (ie, all folders) turned up no filenames containing "azw", let alone "azw1".

      [much later]
      ... ahhh I also have the Kindle-3 and loaded "Wired" on that unit and the book showed up in the documents folder as an "azw" file ... not "azw1".

      Interesting that Kindle and KindleFire use different naming schemes although that hardly helps the quirky behavior on my kFire with Wired.

  8. I've noticed that my KF does not hold it's charge for as long since the 6.3 upgrade. I only use it for reading; I'm fastidious with my charging (i.e. only when the battery is low - and then recharge until 100% until using again);have the brightness set at 70%; the volume off; no 'hanging' Apps, and basically I use the KF in exactly the same manner and frequency as before the 6.3 upgrade. However I have found a marked difference in uptime and find that the charge is lasting approximately 15% less than before.
    It's making me want to change back somehow to the old version. Has anyone else had a similar issue?
    Thanks for a superb Blog Andrys!

    1. I think it's drained faster for me too, though not by that much. The volume seems a trifle louder and that could be one reason. Also, they sped up the functioning, so that was probably a compromise.

      Hard to say, I'm reviewing images on it very fast and there' all about 400K and editing pages and then reading a lot of webpages with images and my average actual life is only about 5.5 to 6 hours.

      I use Advanced Task Manager (free) and before leaving it for awhile I run the app and kill all named apps that might be wanting to run at some point, including Advanced Task Manager.

      If I don't use it again until the next day, up to 24 hours later, it loses only about 5% that way. I make sure I've exited out of all apps. I used to leave it on a browser page. I have my brightness set to about 50% as my eyes are oversensitive.

      I do think it uses more battery though while in use. Maybe we'll hear from others. I dropped infosys as an active utility as it is too much of a drainer.

      Thanks for the generous words, Andy :-)

  9. Thanks for your help Andrys.
    ..."they sped up the functioning, so that was probably a compromise." Naively, I hadn't considered the increase in battery drain in exchange for better processor speed. It makes perfect sense.

    I'm going to take your advice and try Advanced Task Manager for a while, before attempting to 'roll-back' on the system version (if, indeed, that's even possible).

    1. Andy, I don't think it's possible. A check is made that you have an earlier version.

      The reading view feature is alone worth it. I no long use only Dolphin browser because of it.

      Hope Advanced Task Mgr helps you. It does well, for non-use times or when I want only one 3rd party app open until they open themselves as they do. Supposedly they don't run and use mem but you never know.


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