Thursday, March 17, 2016

Amazon's required older Kindle E-Ink Reader software update for continued access to store and Cloud - with links to How to Manually Update older Kindles AFTER March 22 + additional software update for new interface for some models -- Workarounds if you don't like the interface. Also, reactions to Kindle Fire tablets getting Fire OS 5 update and the option to return to OS 4 if wanted. Updated 3/19/16.and 3/28/16

Older e-Ink software update - Links involved, if your update hasn't been completed

1. Critical Software Update for Kindle E-Readers - Amazon Help page
2. Amazon Devices - Identifying yours: U.S. and UK

UPDATED 3/19/16 to add footnotes for asterisks used in the affected-devices table.
UPDATED 3/26/16 to add device-photo-page links just above the table of affected devices.

Amazon has sent personal e-mail alerts to all owners of older Kindle e-Ink E-Readers needing a "critical" software update that would be automatically delivered to that older device "over the air" via either 3G Cellular network (for the oldest Kindles) or via WiFi.

  While they identify the e-Readers needing the updates, it may not be clear to us which device is named in the e-mail, since they mention the "generation" of Kindle and most of us don't tend to identify our devices that way.

  We don't always see our Amazon emails when they're mixed in with daily discount alerts or order confirmations received, among all our other email, so this article is to make sure owners are aware of the needed update.

  The email I received listed the specific older devices I own:
' The following Kindle e-readers registered to your account require an important software update:
  [The affected-device list is placed here -- my Kindle e-Reader 1 (2007)'s odd mercury-column
    selection cursor still works 9 years later (!) and is very readable.

  Update the e-readers listed ... to continue downloading e-books and using Kindle services.  To receive the update, follow these steps:

- Plug your Kindle in to charge during the update.
- Turn on wireless.
- Leave your Kindle plugged in and connected to the wireless network overnight, or until the update is complete.

The software update will download and install automatically, even if your device is asleep. Your device may restart multiple times during the update process.  You will get a final confirmation letter on your device when the update is complete, which can be found in your Kindle Library.

 If you do not update the devices' software by March 22, 2016, you will no longer be able to access Kindle services or get the update via connecting to a wireless network.
  To resume access, you will need to manually update the software on each of your Kindle devices. Please visit our Help page for more details on how to update manually:

I did receive my updates over the air a couple of weeks after I got the notices, and it was pretty seamless if you were expecting it.

  The "critical" update that allows you to continue downloading your e-books and use Kindle services will not show any differences (that I could see).  But, as mentioned, you're told it's completed and, in my case, I also received a 'letter' document letting me know it was done.  Again, if you haven't received it, you should plug in your Kindle overnight to receive it, before March 22.

  AFTER March 22, you can do this ONLY if you get the software update file and load it onto the Kindle yourself.  For ANY of this, if you have any trouble understanding what to do,
  call Kindle Support: US - 866-321-8851  or  UK only - 0800 496 1081
  OR use the Contact Kindle support page

For convenience, here is info for affected (and UNaffected) devices from PART of the critical-software-update page.

The following devices require the latest software version
  (photos of each with links to how to manually update them after March 22 are at the U.S. and UK device-identifying pages:

Device and Year Software Version Your Device Needs Update via Wireless (2G/3G) or Wi-Fi
Kindle 1st Generation (2007) 1.2.1 Use Wireless
Kindle 2nd Generation (2009) * 2.5.8 Use Wireless
Kindle DX 2nd Generation (2009) * 2.5.8 Use Wireless
Kindle Keyboard 3rd Generation (2010) ** 3.4.2 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 4th Generation (2011) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle 5th Generation (2012) 4.1.3 or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Touch 4th Generation (2011) ** or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 5th Generation (2012) ** or higher Use Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite 6th Generation (2013) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Voyage 7th Generation (2014) No Update Needed No Update Needed
Kindle Paperwhite 7th Generation (2015) No Update Needed No Update Needed

*   For these devices, even if you are running software version 2.5.8, if you have not connected to wireless (2G/3G) since October 5, 2015, please connect now.

** For these devices, even if your device has built-in 3G, you will need to connect to Wi-Fi to receive the latest software update.

FAR more detail if you need it is at the softwareupdate help page.
  Again, here's the page that helps identify your device(s): U.S. and UK

Then there is a SECOND update for many with older (but more recent) Kindle e-Readers.
This second update is to get the interface to match what they've done for the newer e-Ink e-Readers.

My Paperwhite 1 stayed at software version so far and the interface is the same.  My Paperwhite 3 got the new interface (v5.7.x.x), called the HOME VIEW vs the old 'cover' or "list" page styles.

  The change I liked was that instead of "Cloud" and "Device" they now use the terms "All" and "Downloaded" --and these are clearer in that the Cloud holds ALL that you own while "Downloaded" refers to the copies you've put on your device to read.

SOME are not enthralled with the new interface because it includes Recommended books
Some of us have always turned off the option to see Amazon recommendations, as we just want to see the books we bought and prefer to go to the Amazon pages if we want recommendations.
 Others LIKE having recommendations based on their reading habits and keep the Home View.

  If you DON'T want the book recommendations and some other features of Home View, you can turn them off.  Here are tips from the Kindle forum.
  Voyage/Paperwhite - new interface tips
  The following settings tip ALSO turns off the "Recommend Content" feature and you'll be able to get the old home page List View instead.

  The new, somewhat paler or lighter-contrast screen and smaller fonts will still be in effect.

On the 3-dot menu icon at the top-right:
  Go to: Settings / Device Options / Personalize Your Kindle / Advanced Options / Home Screen View
  and Set that to Off when you'd rather not use the new view.

Others say to just pull down the top menu down (in some models, the 2nd one from the right) and choose "List"
Some tap "All Items" at the top and then "List View."

Another finds that "Anything new that I've downloaded never shows up. I can find them if I do a search or if I switch to the grid."
  For the grid:
  "Tap "All Items" and then Grid View to get -that- view.'

  The font sizes on collections and book lists are smaller and some have requested larger fonts.
  Others have found the new, smaller fonts clearer though.
  NOTE: In a thread at Teleread, I saw the following:
"The difference you noticed with the weight of the Helvetica font is an issue that we are aware of,” Stephany Rochon in Amazon PR e-mailed me earlier this week, “and we are correcting it before the update is rolled out broadly to customers. "
Changing Portrait to Landscape is done in a different place now.
Tap the "Aa" option at the top, then "page" and then "orientation."

When tapping on "Downloaded" rather than "All" -- you'll tend to get only titles you've not read or samples, of course.
If there's a book or sample that you don't want,
  you can tap the 3-dot menu next to a book title and see
  an option to "remove from device" -- some have wondered how to do this on the updated Kindles.

TABLETS: Option to reset your 4th Generation Kindle Fire tablet from Fire OS 5 to Fire OS 4
I've had a couple of complaints from users who found themselves faced with a very sudden, new tablet interface and HATED it.  They asked what they could do about it.  I don't have a tablet that gets the new update/upgrade, but I advised them to wait a bit to see if they might like it better after some time.  As it turns out, they did find new features that make the new Fire OS5 update worth keeping.   One is the ability to switch easily between currently running programs.  It works well.

  HOWEVER, I saw, on the Kindle forum, that some have, nevertheless, wanted to return to the old "Fire OS4 Version, and Amazon has made this possible, but it involves a Factory Reset and you lose personal docs and customizations made.

  Here's Amazon's help page that details how to "Reset and Downgrade Your 4th Generation Fire Tablet to Fire OS 4."

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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  1. I got that upgrade-or-else email about a month ago and tried all sorts of tricks over the next couple of nights to get my Kindle 3 to auto-update. Nothing happened, so I went to the manual update webpage and did it myself. (I had to do two installs to get up-to-date.) You can tell when it updates (either way) because it leaves two documents in your book list:

    Update Successful
    Your Kindle is Updated

    The latter document claims the update also gave me:

    New Font
    Parental Controls
    Kindle Format 8 (KF8)
    Comic Books
    Children's Picture Books
    Enhanced Table and Image Viewer
    Whispersync for Voice

    So, there's apparently more to this update that just continuing to download books. Old Kindles get some of the features of new ones.

    1. Inkling, I mentioned in the blog article that there was also a SECOND update (I highlighted dthat in red) to be done on some of the older Kindle e-Readers and that this was to get the interface to match what the newer e-Ink Kindles have.

      My Paperwhite 1 has not received that one (but I'd rather keep the older one with the darker fonts since I don't use the other features listed, particularly). The Enhanced Table and IMage Viewer would be no doubt useful though ! Thanks for putting the list here.

      Your list is good.

  2. OK, I give up -- some of the updates listed above have a single asterisk; some two, but nowhere do I find what those asterisks are indicating.

    Two of my four e-ink kindles require the update. One, my KT, has already updated automatically -- it still has the old UI. My KDX needs to update over wireless. I received two emails from Amazon to turn wireless on. After the second (about a week ago) I turned wireless on -- so far it has not updated. If not by Monday, I'll do it manually.

    Both my PW2, & PW3 have updated to the new UI. I find it superficially different, but under the covers, the core functionality is unchanged. I'm not sure it's any better than the old UI, but it's not objectionable just different.

    My Fire HDX 8.9 did update to Fire OS 5 (Bellini). The carousel is gone, and UI (to me) looks much closer to stock Android. Again I don't see anything earth shattering -- I think a lot of the changes revolved around "kids" feature -- I don't have any so . . . (:grin)

    1. MY bad, Edward ! Although I gave a link under that table to see the actual table page for the software-update help page, I definitely should have included the " * " and " ** " explanations on the blog entry itself, which I'll do when I've finished with this reply. Thanks for drawing my attention to that.

      I'm stymied that they don't require one for the Kindle DX 1 and mention only the DX 2. I have both, though the '1' is dead (power supply doesn't work) and I haven't been able to find the beautiful DX 2, which I stopped using after the tablets came out (that includes the original Nook tablet, which I used for about 8 months before Amazon made their first Kindle Fire tablet).

      Re your 2014 Fire HDX 8.9, if you use the feature to tap one of the icons at the bottom while using a device feature, you should get the option to quickly switch to one of your other currently-running activities (books, apps, music). It's very nicely done and smooth, from what I saw from a friend who now enjoys that feature.

      My Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" 2013 is likely not getting the OS 5 feature. It's not something I really want, so I'm ok with that. I just wish the audio were louder.

      Speaking of louder audio, it's certainly capable of it, as I notice with pain each time it gives me 3 loud chimes (no one at the forums has figured out what it's for but sometimes it happens when the battery is lower though not at a too-low point). The chimes are accompanied by the content audio (CNN news host or another TV show's audio) being about FIVE times louder and is very annoying! But this indicates the audio is low because it was a choice. It's fine with a small external speaker though.

      Thanks for the feedback re your various Kindles :-)

  3. I wish it were easier to tell by looking at the Kindle which model it was...
    It seems like it should be on the "device info" page.

    1. Gary - I totally agree that the Kindle Model (Year or Generation) should be displayed in the 'device info' section. The upshot is that, *of the Paperwhites*, only the Paperwhite 1 (Year 2012) requires the update, and the 'device info' box should show version if it's been updated. The Paperwhite 2 and 3 don't require the update.

      In fact, it seems models from 2007 through 2012 need the update. Monday, several sites had alerts popping up about this, and they didn't explain it pertains only to older Kindles.

  4. I dislike the new update. The tool bar is horrible. To turn on the light is a joke in the dark. I have been unable to locate the ability to change the font to what is comfortable for my old eyes. Can not set page numbers.
    The tool bar it self the font is horrible.
    The only thing I do like is the page trader when the book is closed, so you can see if the book was read, THAT IS A BIG HELP.

    1. Anonymous, I use helvetica because it's bolded and has more contast. Supposedly they are working to make that darker again. Their programmers seem to be very young, with 20-20 eyesight...

  5. Anonymous, the READING PROGRESS setting can be found in Display Settings (Aa in toolbar), which include FONT and PAGE settings as well. Or you can just tap on the current reading progress indicator in lower left corner to cycle through the available options. Note that 'Page numbers' option is not available for all books.

    As for upgrading to Fire OS 5, it took a couple of weeks but I'm used to it now.

    I turned off everything in Settings-Apps & Games-Amazon Application Settings-Home Screen Settings. For the most part, I only use HOME (for apps) and RECENTS (for content), and use the icon shortcuts on HOME (Books, Audiobooks, Music, Docs, Video, Newsstand) to navigate directly to respective Library screens. I really don't see the point of swiping repeatedly to get to a screen which lets me do almost nothing but go to Library or Store (particularly as I have turned off the unwelcome Recommendations that are there by default). It just seems too much swiping and tapping, so I just don't bother.

    Collections are pretty much buried and harder to access than before (why can't I add/remove items that show on the RECENTS screen?). And there are some bugs (Docs don't show up in them until you download them).

    I'm using Word Runner a lot the last few days. Really forces me to focus instead of 'skimming' that I'd otherwise lapse into, and helps me plow through a chapter a bit faster. I can think of a few refinements, but it's good enough as is. Spritz may have a little more refinement to it (uses color and aligns words more 'optimally' according to them) but I'm not sure it matters. Wish they'd put it on Kindles as well (I think they could handle the refresh since it is just a tiny area of the screen that is changing).

    Blue Shade is worthless though: I cannot read anything when that is turned on, it turns all of the Black to Orange. iOS 9.3's Night Shift is much much better, more like f.lux. I can just leave it on and it happens on schedule and just kind of takes the edge off instead of flattening everything as Blue Shade does.

    1. Tom, thanks. I'd made a note but forgot to post the Reading Progress info which I saw given in the forum for more than a few asking for it.

      While I don't have the new Fire OS, if I had it, I'd do exactly what you've done for the same reasons.

      Sorry to see Collections are even harder to access. They're a Godsend when my app icons keep shifting after I carefully arrange them but then Amazon wants to put its own app icons first. Hated that. I created and placed Collections of apps at the top after that and they stay in place -- until an update but at least all I have to do is move 4 Collection icons instead of all my apps. Certain things I want at the top and others way below.

      Word Runner. It bugs me just to think about it, staring at one space and making sure I catch everything that goes by in it (or maybe i misunderstand the concept). Good to see that it speeds things up for you though.

      Yes, I got the Blue Shade month ago in the pure Android version and I really did NOT like those hues and the discomfort to my eyes. Odd how that goes, depending on the person. Since I have my backlight on very dim, and choose Sepia, I've not wanted anything else except for it to turn into an e-Ink device while I'm reading the book :-) I remember there was some sort of prototype that had a tablet on the front and an e-Ink reader on the back. Heavy, of course.

    2. By Collections, I don't mean 'app collections' (which are device specific, and work as before) but rather 'cloud collections'. Other issues are that manual sort is not synced between devices.

      Word Runner takes a little getting used to. My plan (we'll see if I follow through) is to use the time savings to jot down a quick synopsis of each chapter as soon as I finish reading it. But even without that I think my retention is as good as it is in page mode. The Spritz folks say you need to push past the point at which 'internal voice' can keep up, so you are doing 100% visual processing. Don't think I'm there yet, I'm only at 375 wpm now. But I look at it like a skill that takes some time to master.

      'Blue Shade in the pure Android version'. Not familiar with that. Google's Play Books added something called 'Night Light', maybe this is what you mean?

    3. Tom, thanks for clarifying re 'cloud collections' rather than the more specific app collections or book collections, I guess. I use both. All that trouble for manual sort and it's not synced between device... too bad. I use the alpha sort with strange symbols to mildly control where a book is listed but others use prefacing alpha-numbers (with several numerical places) to make it come out the way they want.

      Word Runner: Report back your progress when you can. Sounds intriguing even if I don't think I could manage this method of reading.

      Re Blue Shade, I wrote about it and the similar Android app I used when trying it -- at

      The app is named just 'Twilight' -- it worked well but I don't like that color change...
      I got it at 1Mobile. My Yr 2013 HDX 8.9" doesn't get OS5...

    4. Note that f.lux now has an Android version. I have not tried it, but anything would be better than Blue Shade.

      I see (Nate's blog and now other places) there's been push back on the idea that iOS's Night Shift does anything to reduce sleep disruption, because it doesn't reduce cyan enough. I think that's a little the point: I just find it more comfortable at night, and I'm also skeptical that mobile displays (including front-lit e-readers, which also generate blue) put out enough light to do much in the first place (at least if you are properly adjusting the brightness, etc.). Surely there are people who engage in all manner of late night activity that affects sleep in a negative way, but I would guess that exposure to blue light is responsible for only a small percentage of that.

    5. Tom, am eager to hear what you think about f.lux (not having an Apple computer or tablet, I hadn't paid attention to it but it sounds good, from what I've read).

      Good point about the effect of adjusting the brightness. I do have mine way low and wonder why others have theirs set so high. A blast of light into the eyes.

      I was reading a new non-fiction book today and finally noticed the tiny menu and found that I do have Word Runner with my update in January. For non-fiction I hate it. And this book also has some beautifully constructed paragraphs that I want to go back and re-scan. Also, not able to take my eyes away for fear of missing a word is not to my liking. Otherwise it's kind of nice, being fed the words one at a time, but too much like the computer feeding me but at its own pace rather than mine unless I push the pause button when I don't feel like having my eyes fixed on the screen. I think relaxing your eyes by shifting the focus is probaby better for us.

      Also, I love (on my 8.9" Kindle Fire that supports it and I think they recently added it to the 7" ?) to read books in Landscape orientation, using two pages at a time, and they're like small pages but with the larger fonts I like. I read faster with smaller segments to view and I like that my eyes don't need to go completely across even a portrait-oriented screen. Love the sepia background too.

      I saw a graphic that claims there can be some bad health effects with blue light besides sleeping though...

      I used the text-to-speech, and the new voice capability is actually pretty effective and even pleasant, sometimes too pleasant for the words being read. :-)

  6. I remember one 'study' about affect of reading on an iPad vs books on sleep where they actually set the iPad brightness at maximum setting as their baseline. Ridiculous. In normal use, one would not set it at max brightness except maybe outdoors.

    f.lux is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, BTW.

    I'm still infatuated with Word Runner. I wish it would provide an estimate of reading time to complete current chapter when you start it up, as they do at each chapter break. I don't want it to be more than about 5 minutes per session, or at least I want to be forewarned. Other refinements would be to pause to display pictures/charts. My HD6 usage has gone from 5% share of my reading to about 80%. I was using my Fire Phone for reading a lot more before Word Runner. I want them to add Word Runner to the Kindle, too! I recently got new Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite, and they are both way better than my Paperwhite 1, but I can't bring myself to read on them. To be honest, the Kindle is more readable than the Paperwhite: screen is whiter and text is bolder at same font size. The front-light does nothing to improve contrast, and while it does render the background whiter, the text gets grayer and I cannot seem to ignore that. So I really prefer reading a back-lit device in Night Mode in most situations. I've never seen a Voyage, maybe it is better (glass vs plastic light guide).

    I liked the auto-scrolling feature of Fire Phone, which I like because there's no artificial breaks in the flow of text, and wish they'd add that to Fire tablets (and Kindle mobile apps). Fire Phone's implementation is flawed, as the scrolling is not smooth and alternately stalls or jumps, and unfortunately it will not be fixed, though clearly the hardware should be more than powerful enough to do it (my 6 year old iPod Touch had an auto-scrolling reading app, and it was entirely smooth). iBooks has scrolling mode, but not auto-scrolling (unless you turn on Speak Screen).

    Like Immersion Reading (or even TTS), I like being able to focus on reading without mechanics of turning pages.

    1. Tom - Oddly enough, I find many use their TVs and tablets at max brightness! I don't know how they can stand it (or maybe that's why they find them tiring on the eyes. :-)

      5 minutes per session? Don't you normally read non-fiction? I would expect fast rates when reading fiction / novels but not non-fiction ...

      Re Paperwhite 3. While I liked it better than my Paperwhite 1, the update they made to the Paperwhite 3 makes it LESS CONTRASTY than my Paperwhite 1. Thinner or smaller font that seems GRAYER than black. Maddening. Kindle Team needs to use older people for quality control of READING quality. I've mentioned this to them before. They do the same with some webpages -- GRAY on WHITE. All some care about is 'design style/look' and apparently could care less about the reader's eyes and comfort in reading. This is more and more the style on the Net, and it'ws disappointing to see Amazon follow this trend.

      The Paperwhite 3 IS still clearer as far as clarity of the font, as in my earlier photo comparison. But CONTRAST is important and can't be minimized.

      Re Voyage -- it does have more contrast than the Paperwhites. It's also considerably more expensive.

      Re the Paperwhites. I often turn OFF the light in the daytime- preferring the old unlighted screen. It's better for contrast. As you add light, it seems to soften the contrast. Otherwise, I keep it around level 13 for the Paperwhite 3 and level 14 for the Paperwhite 1 (for my eyes).

      Maybe iBooks doesn't use auto-scrolling for the reasons you see in the Fire Phone's auto-scrolling. It may be harder to do smoothly?

      Like you, I do like TTS now. While Immersion Reading is a fun feature, I don't tend to get audio books...

      Supposedly, they're working on a bolder Helvetica to help with the loss of contrast with the latest update on the Paperwhite 3 (I don't know about Paperwhite 2.)

  7. I'm about 50/50 with fiction vs non-fiction. Haven't tried a lot of non-fiction with Word Runner yet, but it is more happenstance than intention.

    I've read a number of reviews and reports comparing PW with Voyage, and not much is made of Voyage having markedly better contrast or clarity (some even complain about the optical effect of the glass). Given that over the last year I have done comparatively little reading on a Kindle, it has been difficult to justify the expense of Voyage, particularly as they only rarely been discounted (I think only twice, including a few days ago), and I have not ever seen one (I know Amazon has great return policy but my sense was that it wouldn't meet my expectations and so why bother ordering one in the first place?).

    Now we're about to learn more about 8th generation Kindles. Lots of wild speculation about feature sets, including my own, but I doubt I'll feel a need to get one ('unless Liquavista' that is).

    Regarding smooth scrolling, iBooks does that when Speak Screen is enabled. So does Queue. Both with additional overhead of TTS. And my considerably less powerful iPod Touch did years ago. But Fire Phone never achieved exit velocity needed to merit performance tuning. By the time I and most everybody else bought one (in wake of aggressive price drops), Amazon had already abandoned development. And I doubt many people even tried it one time.

    I don't know what it is with Amazon and fonts. Why not a 'font weight' setting?

    1. I sure agree, Tom, with your suggestion of a font weight setting. Amazon Kindle Team doesn't seem to do much testing of this important feature -- basic *readability* ... the complaints on forums show that with the latest update. It makes no sense.

      Re the 8th Gen, I was tickled to see someone's wish list -- a speaker, good audio quality, but "thinner and lighter" ... I think it's exactly that it'd have to be somewhat heavier to have the speaker.

      I want mainly more contrast, a heaier font again, a bit more speed (faster processor) and Text-to-Speech but outside of contrast improvement needed after the recent update, I don't feel much of a need for amything else. I like my Paperwhite 3, though I use my Kindle Fire HDX much more, including for reading.

      It'll be interesting to see what they did decide on. I've never seen them announce a new model over a week in advance but it explains some discounts I noticed the other day.

      Re the Voyage, I've never seen one. Staples carries Kindles, but not that one...


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