Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kindle software v3.1 ready to go for real page numbers and other features

Software version 3.1 is ready for delivery to all Kindle 3's.  (Full Details were given earlier in the "Preview" blog article.)

  This is the update which gives the Kindle 3  (UK: K3) "real" page numbers, extended features for sharing annotations, and some very nice enhancements to the layout of Kindle-edition newspapers and magazines.
  Here's Amazon's info page for the v3.1 software update.

Amazon has made a change in delivery in that 3G cellular wireless will not be used this time at all for over-the-air delivery.   They say:
' We have a new, free software update available for your Kindle that is being delivered via a Wi-Fi connection over the next few days.

  To receive the update, please turn your wireless on and connect to an available Wi-Fi network (learn how to set up Wi-Fi on your Kindle).  The software update will automatically download in the background and install the next time your Kindle goes into sleep mode.  You can also manually download the update to your Kindle right now '

' * Public Notes -- This feature lets Kindle users choose to make their book notes and highlights available for others to see.  Any Kindle user -- including authors, their fans, book reviewers, professors and passionate readers everywhere -- can opt-in to share their thoughts on book passages and ideas with friends, family members, colleagues, and the greater Kindle community of people who love to read... '
The private, password-protected Kindle Annotations Page which I wrote about earlier, with examples, has been expanded and has a somewhat different look.

  Our highlighting and notes made are all there but formatted somewhat differently, with more focus on the current book and a lot more options, including adding notes, editing and deleting, which I assume are then sync'd with the Kindle's annotations.
' * Real Page Numbers -- Our customers have told us they want real page numbers that match the page numbers in print books so they can easily reference and cite passages, and read alongside others in a book club or class.   We've already added real page numbers to tens of thousands of Kindle books, including the top 100 bestselling books in the Kindle Store that have matching print editions and thousands more of the most popular books.

  Page numbers will also be available on our free "Buy Once, Read Everywhere" Kindle apps in the coming months.  If a Kindle book includes page numbers, press the Menu key in an open Kindle book to display page numbers. '
  See examples of how Page Numbers will appear.

' * Before You Go ... -- When you reach the end of the book, you can immediately rate the book, share a message about the book with your social network, get personalized recommendations for what to read next, and see more books by the same author. '
That is of course an advantage for publishers, authors, and booksellers, but it's the type of social interaction that is very popular today.

' * New Newspaper and Magazine Layout -- We're introducing a new and improved layout for newspapers and magazines. This new layout gives you a quick snapshot of the news and helps you decide what you want to read first. '
As noted above, here are examples of the new layout, and it's definitely more intuitive than the previous columns of Sections alongside a 'NUMBER of articles' heading which acted as a link to the listing of articles, a function not obvious to many Kindle reviewers and owners.

All emphases above in the quotes are mine, of course.

If interested, see the earlier preview-article for questions that I hope Amazon will answer soon about software changes.

NOTE: Other information from Amazon that I had noticed later:
' Kindle books that include page numbers will list "Page Numbers Source ISBN (the print book identification number)" for the matching print edition under "Product Details" on the detail page at Amazon.com...

Because Kindle books allow you to change font size and other features, you may be able to view more than one page on your screen at once.  Only the corresponding page number for the text displayed at the top left of the screen will be shown. '

  HOW do you get the updated page numbers for e-books you already own?
    (for e-books with page numbers added currently)
  Answer: When you press the Menu button, turn your wireless ON (to make sure you can access the Amazon servers) and select "Sync & Check items," Amazon will download small auxiliary files that provide real page numbers for the books that have been updated by the publisher for that feature.  I noticed that my Hachette books had these, while HarperCollins didn't, the first week, but real page numbers are being added when they're made available.

  The expanded Notes-Sharing feature
This feature may be quite useful for book clubs.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. 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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  1. The update announcement email seemed especially incompetent, as it failed to indicate that only some kindles were affected, it failed to indicate what version number would indicate a successful update, and it indicated that the update could only use WIFI over the air.

    Regards, Don

  2. Don,
    It was odd that the version number was missing, yes. Re not identifying which Kindle, I have a hunch that the email went out to only Kindle 3 owners

    It's true that the update can't use 3G cellular wireless for the updates - only WiFi. My copy showed the manual update via USB as an option.

  3. Andrys,

    What you say is largely true, but my account has two generations of DX as well as a K3, not in my possession.

    Do we now have a case that indicates that the new WIFI only model means that DX's can no longer be updated over the air, if they are ever supported again?

    Thanks, Don

  4. Andrys,

    It appears that every time you buy more than the lowest priced kindle, you will eventually come to regret it. Nobody said that if you buy a full K3 and don't have your own WIFI network, then you will eventually have to do manual upgrades with a computer or sit for hours in a public site hoping for an upgrade.

    Regards, Don

  5. I have a DX too and I wrote scads about their not updating that yet (and linked to that in today's blog piece). They've been clear that software update v3.1 is the only for Kindle 3's at this point.

    The DX: not as many of those, so 3G charges wouldn't be as risky. I think we're talking 9 million Kindle 3s.

    They supported K2 with native support of PDF and also all the new collection and other features MONTHS after the DX had real support of PDFs. So, I think they'll update the DX later.

  6. Andrys,

    My biggest point would probably be that Amazon is effectively throwing all the non-computer owners that it enthusiastically sold kindles to, under the bus. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that few non-computer owners will be comfortable trying to update thru WIFI either.

    Regards, Don

  7. I'm not sure the tech industry is aware of just how angry a lack of updates for recent purchases makes users. My car is over 30 years old, but I can still buy parts for it. Anonymous is mad that his roughly two-year old Kindle won't get 3.1 and he has good reason to be.

    The tech industry often thinks restricting new features to the latest model will make people more likely to upgrade. I suspect it also makes a lot of potential customers less willing to buy. One reason I've not upgraded my Kindle 1 to a Kindle 3 is that a full-featured Instapaper app is a must-have for me. Until I see an Instapaper app actually running on a particular Kindle model, I'm not interested. I'll just live with those grossly over-sized page turn buttons.

    That said, the sheer number of Kindle 3s, some 9 million and counting, does make it a safer-than-usual bet for would-be purchasers.

    Amazon also needs to improve their customer service in one particular area. It's one thing for me to leave a Kindle lying around for a day or two waiting for its turn in the upgrade queue. I have a WiFi router. It's another thing for someone who has to "sit for hours in a public site hoping for an upgrade" like anonymous does. There should be some way for these people to sign up for download as soon as their Kindle calls home.

  8. Don,
    It's true many who bought the 3G Kindle 3 may have never used the WiFi component and wouldn't know how without help (which is why they link to how to do it) and many prefer to not even try the USB cable file-transfer (which is less difficult than it would appear if a customer hasn't done it before).

    Many who bought WiFi-only thought that WiFi just existed in the home and later upgraded to the 3G model, so there'll be a learning curve to use the WiFi download method. (The usb transfer would be easier than setting up a
    WiFi network or scouting around for a MacDonald's or Starbucks.)

    I guess the 3G method becomes very expensive for world-wide delivery of a software upgrade when Amazon has free 3G.

  9. Mike,
    I remember their saying earlier that when a software update has made ready for download, it's put in the queue and when you sign on and do a "Sync & Check Items" it will download.

    This time they say pretty much the same but it confuses that they said "over the next few days" ... They should send each K3 owner an email notice that the software download is ready for download for their unit.

  10. I may be wrong, but Amazon don't seem to have fixed the "wallpaper problem". You are still stuck with the ugly author images that have been chosen for you. I really can't believe this. It would be so simple to just have a directory where you could download and store the images that the Kindle then used for the screen saver.

  11. Mark,
    You're not wrong. The only one I want to see on there is the Jules Verne.

    I don't know why they don't do this or if there's something about how it acts as a screen-sleeper.

    They do allow us to have our own pictures in a pictures folder though. Even that is not always easy to get right for how I like to see the pics. It has to be a certain size and orientation.

    The screensaver hacks. I tried one for awhile but if you didn't get something just right, you got nothing (which might be an improvement but it's disconcerting to see a blank screen). I think that their screensleeper process might be inordinately touchy.


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