Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why was Flash setting set to OFF with Kindle Fire's last Update with nothing said?


BLOG UPDATE: - This situation was fixed with Kindle Fire Software Update v6.3 and that's detailed in the March 28 blog post about the software update.

The most recent Kindle Fire update was January 18, and for some reason Amazon suddenly changed the FLASH (video and scripts) setting to OFF (not 'enabled') as the Default Option.

  They actually RENAMED the setting from "Enable Plug-ins" to the more understandable "Enable Flash" -- and then, they turned it *Off* as a default, leaving customers to flounder about wondering what to do to get it back.

  As a result, as they would know because they do monitor the forums, deleting posts that clearly don't follow board guidelines, the Amazon Kindle Forums have people asking, each and every single day since the latest update, essentially, "I can't see videos on web pages anymore! Can anyone help me?".
  I'm not exaggerating.  There's not a day missed that at least two people posting on the front page threads are upset or just plain angry that the video feature no longer works for web pages.  It's as if they had an iPad, which has this limitation intentionally.

  And who answers these perplexed customers who have wasted a lot of time trying to figure it out before coming to the forums.?  The other customers who hang out to help on the Amazon Kindle Community Forums.

Amazon has excellent phone support for Kindle customers but virtually zero customer-support help on their forums -- not even a boilerplate for a question like this that is asked daily.

  All this does is cause people to think something is wrong with the device, so what is Amazon thinking, to let this go on day after day?

  I realize Amazon is busy with many changes in a competitive business, but it's just Common Courtesy to let their customers know  1) what feature NO LONGER WORKS due to a change they intentionally made in an announced software update -- and  2) what the customer can do if they'd actually like it to work.

  As in, being able to see a video on a web page.  Elementary stuff.

  The ones most asked about are full TV videos from a prior night's prime-time show, at ABC or Fox that they used to be able to watch. But most news site videoclips are also done by Flash and won't work in this situation until you change a setting.

  Why would Amazon take an advertised feature, which they point out the iPad doesn't have but the Kindle Fire does, and suddenly set that feature to *Off*?? -- without any warning to the customers or, after the fact, even bothering to explain it to them when they see that this question is asked by obviously unhappy users each and every single day on their own Kindle forums?

  Amazon's taken pride, in the past, in their focus on making things easier and more intuitive for the customer.  Not in this case.

SIMPLE SOLUTION (if you know the problem is due to a setting and if you know where to find it)
  It's not simple for people new to the Kindle Fire or who are new to tablets and especially new to Android tablets or phones where one must figure out where a setting is, depending on which Android tablet or phone one has.

This specific setting is not in the usual (hidden) Settings Menu at the Top, which you can always get to by lightly touching the top edge in the left or center areas, which will then show it at the right as a 'gear' or 'wheel' icon.  That settings-menu that will appear across the top is for general settings like Volume, Brightness, and WiFi, etc., and "More" will get you, well, more options.

The Flash feature, though, used on web pages, is controlled by a WEB (or browser) setting (Amazon's web browser is called "Silk" but they often refer in wording to 'Silk' without explaining it refers to the WEB browser that comes with the Kindle Fire.

  1. Lightly press the HOME icon at bottom left of your Kindle Fire to get to the Home page where the Carousel is (unless you're already there).
        Note that you may not see the Home icon there unless you lightly press the left (or center) TOP edge.  If you're reading a Kindle book, pressing anywhere on the screen except the sides (this would turn a page instead) will also bring up the Home icon and menu options.

  2. Lightly press "Web" at top right menu to get the web browser.

  3. At the bottom line, you'll then see, in the middle, something that looks like a a washboard, a ladder, or air conditioner.  That is probably meant to look like a Table of Contents, though this doesn't usually occur to us at first but that does make sense and is a regular Android feature.

  4. Press that Menu option.

  5. Choose "Settings" in the pop-up sub-menu, at the right.

  6. Use your finger (or stylus) to move the list of settings UP ("swiping up") so that you can see what is lower down on the scrolling page of web browser settings.

  7. Find, in the "Behavior" heading (the headings are in smaller fonts), the setting:
        "Enable Flash"

  8. You'll have three choices: "Always on"   "On demand"   and "Off"
    Many of us choose "On demand" which means the Flash won't load and run until you press on a DOWN ARROW in the rectangular video frame to signal you want to run the Flash feature.
      This saves loading time if you don't want videos to run.
        I suspect Amazon turned it off to make the pages load faster, since people were saying page loads were slower than on an iPad, which doesn't recognize or run Flash at all.

      Flash videos on webpages are often ads and most of us would rather not see them.  So, we get a choice this way, and the DownArrow lets us know we can run a videoclip if we press that. (Lightest presses almost always work right away on this touch screen.)

      The "Always On" choice loads and runs Flash videos along with the loading of the basic webpage.  Some will prefer it, since they don't have to wait for the page to load (with the usual ads on these pages) and then make a 2nd movement to actually run the video.

      Few will choose to Not 'Enable' Flash.

So, that's all it takes.  Obviously, I feel Amazon should have explained this to Customers since they made a change that they knew would make a hugely important feature suddenly not work and then didn't explain it.

NOTE This blog keeps a boxed section for Kindle Support info such as phone numbers, user guides, software updates, ID'g Kindle Models (updated), etc.   That's at http://bit.ly/kworldsupport.

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  1. Thanks so much for this tip on Flash for the Fire. Your blog is SO helpful and you are doing a great service for all of us e-reader device owners out there. I really appreciate your blog.

    1. Dee, thanks very much for letting me know that was helpful and that the blog is. It came at a good time as I've been feeling bad about taking some time out for little trips where I'm out of touch.


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