Friday, May 14, 2010

Kindle Software Update v2.5 progress report

Blog entry expanded May 14, 2010 and June 9 - Original posting 4/28/10

Click to SKIP to v2.5 and v.252 features info.

This is an expansion of the original blog article on the coming software or firmware update v2.5 for Kindle 2 and Kindle DX.  This is separated from other news that was included in the original entry, and there is a wonderful online introductory tutorial link added.  I received my update recently and will add a few words on that, but most Kindle owners will get this probably during the last week of May.  Kindle forum members are seeing more updates happenng now, and there is added word on how that is done as well.

The Kindle Chronicle's Len Edgerly pointed me to the good news on April 18 that Amazon had announced the new Kindle software update that was promised to hit our Kindles before the summer -- a main focus of Kindle owners having been ORGANIZATION of books on the Kindle for some time, and they added social-networking features that will of course help bring attention to their books.

  Update 2.5  is still being rolled out to a "limited group of users" in what would normally be termed a "beta" phase for feedback from the beta software users, with a broad release date in late May.  It's not an official beta but if the 'broad release date' was late May and some members had reported getting the update already, it has provided time to 'adjust' the software update based on reports from the earliest group.  In fact, Amazon has indicated that Kindle Support needed to handle a more limited number of feedback reports and has made some adjustments already based on what they did hear.

  Wording on the page had indicated the update would not be for the original Kindle 1, no real surprise, as the screen-handling of the cursor navigation for the Kindle Klassic, as it's often called, is "indirect" and uses entirely different software instructions from the "direct" screen cursor access for the current Kindle 6" and Kindle DX.
  But a note from Customer Support to a Kindle 1 owner suggests strongly that they may well be working on a similar organizational feature for the Kindle 1.

 Answers to questions we had initially are in the online documentation.
  I've linked to Amazon help pages for each new feature when I've found one, as those describe how these new features work.

* Collections: Organize your books and documents into one or more collections.

Sorting Content and Using Collections

Once you have this software (most of us in late May), we would still go up to the top of the HOME screen and navigate the SORT options, which will now include "Collections," which are categories we create.  The set-categories given us before (Personal Docs, etc.) are no longer shown.

The HOME screen will look the same, but when we go up to the SORT options area at the top of the screen, we'll be able to view the Collections we've created.  You can see that the categories or collections are shown along with the number of books or documents in those collections.  The default option will remain "Most Recent First" unless we arrow over to Collections option and click on it.

Collections are created from a Menu option on the Home screen and can be renamed or deleted later (see screen image below).

  A book can be in several collections, but even if it is in only one collection, the deletion of that collection won't affect the book, which will then just show on the Home screen.

  Collections can be transferred across registered Kindle devices and you'll be able to import collections from your other Kindle devices under the Archived Items page, using "Add Other Device Collections.

  If you re-download a deleted book, it will download to the collection or category it was a part of before.

* PDF Pan and Zoom: Zoom into PDFs and pan around to easily view small print and detailed tables or graphics.
  Zooming on Images and PDF Documents
  That page will show how it's done for books and for PDF documents.

* Password Protection: Password protect your Kindle when you're not using it. 
  Here's the guide.  This feature is Off as a Default and is optional.
    The password is set from the Menu/Settings screen and you provide a hint.
    If you don't remember the password, you'll get a phone number for
    Customer Support who will help you reset it.

* More Fonts and Improved Clarity: Enjoy two new larger font sizes and sharper fonts for an even more comfortable reading experience.

* Facebook and Twitter Posts: Share book passages with friends on Facebook and Twitter directly from your Kindle.

    Sharing Highlights and Notes on Facebook and Twitter
  The linked Amazon help page for this (just above) details how this is done.

* Popular Highlights: See what the Kindle community thinks are the most interesting passages in the books you're reading.

  Annotations: Highlights ...
    Part of this feature is already included in our private, password-protected Annotations webpage (we have this page if we left Annotations Backup enabled in the Menu/Settings options).
   Here's an example of what highlights for a book look like on our private annotations webpage (ignoring my own idea of privacy for a moment) before the recent addition of  "popular highlights.".

  If three or more people highlight overlapping portions of a passage, this will trigger the alert, in your book, that others have highlighted a given passage.  You can turn this feature off under Menu/Settings.

  I think I'll turn this off until I've read the chapter or book because I don't want to be influenced by what others highlighted while I'm still reading.  I don't read movie reviews in detail for the same reason.  I'd like to read just what the author wrote, without cues from others.  The feature is probably very useful for bookclubs though.
(Often wished-for enhancements that are Not on the list: Direct editing of PDFs and ability to directly-read non-rights-protected ePub w/o converting them first).

This feature is especially well thought out, so it's intuitive, logical, and therefore easy to use.   It has a tag-type structure, so that you can have a book in several groupings at any time.  There is only one level of groupings though.  Already I have 25 named Collections under which I want to find things.   But it's still brought my list of 200 books and documents way down.  And it's really easy to find the books I'm in the mood to read now.
   I wish only that we could mark and move several books at once into this or that collection, but let's not get greedy.  Yet.

  Update, 5/16/10 - I also really need that the Home listing of Collection groupings (when we've chosen that sorting method) be in alphabetical order.  Right now it appears to be by most recently accessed collection.  Thanks to Elmo for the reminder.  Kindle users should contact so that their feedback is recorded and the various desired items counted.

This is very effective for zooming in on a selected area (zoom box size is not extendable as they fit what your chosen magnification is).  Using the  'Aa' font-key, we can choose magnifications of 150, 200, and 300x.  And the resulting scaled-up text is VERY clear.

  I'd like, though,  a smoother way to move to another part of the page, to the right especially, when using the moving box border.

HUGE FONT SIZEThe Amazon Customer Service Team mentioned on the official Kindle forum and on Facebook earlier that this update promised before Summer would include a font that is twice the size of the current largest Kindle font.  The new fonts really ARE huge..
  There'd also been some hope that Kindle menu-options would be included in text-to-speech by then but I don't see that audio feature listed.  

  The Facebook/Twitter features are ready, and the online-tutorial I'll link to shows you how to use it and what we'll see when we send out a highlighted section for others to read.  Those familiar with Facebook and Twitter know that these two companies ask you to link other webpages or processes to your page on their sites.  Some will be more comfortable with that than others.  Some already do like the feature quite a bit.  I decided to test it out and here's what the Facebook portion of this shared-highlight looks like there:

The actual highlight I made (and the nicer aspect of this is that we can make a longer highlighted passage this way) is linked to at Facebook (or at Twitter if you choose that) and the passage is then shown at an Amazon page made for that. Here's how the highlighted portion appears at your shared highlight page at Amazon.

  News writers seem to find this by far the most interesting feature though Kindle-owners have long pushed for the other new features.

  Not only is Sharing across cables apparently sexy (newswise), but few e-readers have easy wireless access, not to mention almost-anywhere-anytime 3G Wireless access at no added cost. So, you could be sitting on a bus, or a bench somewhere, reading a passage you want to share with friends, and you can just highlight something of interest to friends at Facebook or Twitter and send it off.  The advantage for Amazon is obvious.

WHEN DO MOST OF US GET THE V2.5 UPDATE? (Only  maybe 20,000+ have already received it, according to one report on the 13th). This firmware update is still being methodically rolled out and delivered over Whispernet (Kindle Wireless) with no manual-download option for now.

  What I did - I plugged in the adapter at night after turning Wireless ON through the Menu system, just in case,  but, again, most of us won't get this until late May.  It's *important* also to remember to turn Wireless OFF after you remove the power adapter the next morning to avoid fast battery drain once you've  downloaded any subscriptions/periodicals that might be coming in that day.   I did appreciate the early birds taking care of any bugs before the rest of us get it though :-)

Ars Technica's Jacqui Cheng has a fine hands-on report on the Kindle software upgrade, thoroughly illustrated.  Don't miss this one.

S. Foster at the Amazon Kindle Community forum discussions reported very interesting info as interpreted from a phone conversation with an Amazon Customer Service rep on May 13.

Essentially, it's a very large binary file that's being sent over the air - about 10 megs. That's an expensive Whispernet update -- best to do it only once. So far, he reports that the rep said that about 20,000 devices have received the update in this feedback/problem-solving phase and that there were of course a few problems but that these have been corrected and the full rollout has been scheduled for..."soon."

Wave 3 started a few days ago. The file is so large that it can take 2-4 days to download in smaller chunks to the Kindle. If your Kindle is receiving now and then a chunk or two, it'll tend to be slower during those times.

See the full report at the Kindle forums.

 See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
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  1. I couldn't wait and snagged a copy of the firmware from a link at Mobileread... ;>

    One thing you might want to note - When using the Collections display listing on the home page, all items are then force-sorted by "Most recent". No way to change that. Hopefully they'll fix that in a future update.


  2. Elmo, it's now on my DX as well as Kindle 2 so I was able to use the Add Other Device Collections and that was really quite slick.

    Yes, I did note with regret (which I forgot while writing the entry) that when I'm just looking at the Collections list, it's out of order.

    It's counterintuitive that anyone would want that. I sort alpha in my mind all the time and it takes several times longer to go through categories this way. Since they're alphabetized when we add to them, I can't imagine it would have been difficult to make that the Default. I don't care which collection was accessed last but I need to understand the list.

    So I'll write feedback and maybe others will too. We still have time for them to change that before everyone gets it.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  3. It sounds like it is merely a tagging system, implemented in such a way as to be understandable for non-geeks, which is admirable. It is unfortunate, though, that because of this conceptual simplification, there is apparently no way to search for books that have two or more specific tags. That would give you the multi-level feature you wanted.

  4. Mark,
    Yes, agreed. I referred to it as a 'tag-type structure' ...

    I am keeping the old workaround of using an 'x' before words I want to find, individually or in combo with other ones, in a 'note' near the beginning of the book.

    When I open a book and make a note with 5 xwords that are key, they're findable with just the one xword or with a combo of a few, which can get me just books that have all in the combo and sort of fall under an umbrella, in a way.

    (But I might be misunderstanding).

    With the new system (which I think it was not easy to do to make it this simple for most people to use), it's IS nice to be able to put each in -several- groupings, which makes them easy to find at least.

    But I WOULD like to have less than 25 'top-level' categories which I keep insisting to myself are needed (of course they're not).

    I can see though avoiding programming anthing that is looks like levels because they'd confuse many who would wonder where they had put a book. A lot of people don't like tree-diagrams.

  5. My one complaint is that all books not purchased through Amazon are simply shown as "From a personal document"; they could at least indicate the Title and Author.

    I understand they can't link directly to product information, but if the author and title information is there it'd be nice if it was used in some capacity so that my shared comments/highlights have some reference.

  6. Allen,
    ALl my personal docs (which include more files than books from Amazon) have title and at least a name, whether the author or mine.

    OH, did you mean when sharing highlights at Facebook and Amazon? Have not tried that.

    - A (leaving for a bit)

  7. Yes, I mean when sharing -- they all have the correct info in my library. It's just ignored when sharing.

  8. Allen,
    Ah, okay. I think that with Amazon books, they have the metadata in a certain format and known to them but with the 'unknown' books they don't know what they're passing on, as it can be changed by the book owner.

    What I'd do then is use the intro statement to give the name of the book or doc.

    Actually, I'm pleasantly surprised this can be done w/non-Amazon material.

    Thanks for this info.

  9. Allen,
    I should have said "easily changed" by the book (or doc) owner.

  10. I agree that they can't necessarily link directly to a an Amazon Product based on user-manipulatable data but it really seems to me it would be fair to include that data in there somewhere, at least listing what the personal document claims to be for the purpose of context. That 100 character comment limit is already pretty tight without typing out the book title and/or author.

  11. Allen,
    Try writing to and maybe at the same time, to let them know. Others will feel the same way, so the more feedback they get the better.

    You're right about that 140 character limit. I was surprised to get that limit with Facebook sharing when it's only Twitter that requires that...

  12. Yes, I'll definitely point my feedback in their direction.

    As for the character limit, it's actually 100 characters! Amazon reserves 40 for the URL and the #kindle hash tag.

    I have both Twitter and Facebook linked to mine, and it doesn't seem like there's any way to post to them independently, so I understand the character limit. Do you know, is it still applied if you have it linked to Facebook but not Twitter?

  13. Allen, I didn't realize that. Thanks for the correction. They need to make it longer for Facebook instead of making those fit the Twitter/Amazon requirements.

    I link any sharing only to Facebook and not to Twitter and I still got limited to a short line. All they have to do, though, is determine whether you're linked to Twitter or not and if not, then your longer one would be sent along.

    And if you're linked to both, they should ask if you want this sent to one or both...

  14. I agree, I would like to see the option to share to one or all.

    As for length limiting, while it is common practice to keep them within the 140 character limit it's not absolutely required. If you post > 140 characters to twitter, it will truncate it in the twitter stream but you can actually view the entire "Tweet" if you go to view it individually by clicking on the meta information. (Where it says when it was posted, e.g. "about 1 hour ago via Kindle")

  15. Elmo,
    I heard that you got a copy of the firmware from mobileread. Could you put a link up here?


  16. Anonymous,
    Elmo received the prior update from there. I don't know that they have made this one available. And one has to be sure to get the right file for your particular device type too. Model and either U.S. or global.

  17. Anonymous,
    By "this one" I meant version 2.52 as you replied here about that later update.

    Good luck on it.

  18. Does anyone know where I can get Kindle 2.5, and will it still work on my Kindle if I have Kindle 2.3.2?

  19. If you have a Kindle International, other Kindle users have shared their update files and they explain them at the Kindle forums.

    In my most recent blog entry on the software update (last night), I point at the end to places that have update files from other users.

    These files are for only those with Kindle Global or Int'l models, which came out mid-October for Kindle 2's and probably January or so for the DX, but I don't remember.

    You'd need to read the instructions but can get help there if bogged down on someting.

    The info is in the small-font section of that entry, which is at

    The linked forum thread is in that entry and the direct link is

  20. Oscar,
    Unfortunately no users of U.S. models have captured and made available their files for the U.S. model.

    I know it's frustrating to have news coming out about it and not see the update but I doubt it will be much longer now. Sorry I don't have better news.

  21. I noticed that the "next page" button behavior has changed. It used to turn the page when I let go of the button but now it turns the page as soon as it is pressed. I hade gotten into the habit of holding the button down as I read the last line of a page and then let go.

    I don't like this change. With computer mice usually an event happens on mouse up instead of mouse down!!

  22. Rob,
    I noticed it the first time it happened to me as I like to hold it down until I'm ready, so it was a very unpleasant surprise and at first I didn't know it was because of v2.5, believe it or not.

    I think I've gotten used to it -- maybe the page turns faster now ?


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