Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kindle Touch Software Update Version 5.1 - BIG update

Kindle Touch Software receives big update

Nate Hoffelder, of The Digital Reader just sent notice that the Amazon Touch software update 5.1 is here.  Thanks, Nate.

Huge.  A few long requested features:
The update includes Landscape mode, Text to Speech (newspapers & magazines added), instant language translations by Bing, and onscreen keyboard suggestions as well as other features.

Kindle Touch Software Update, V5.1 is available online, and downloadable at the link, in case the update isn't already on your Kindle Touch when you read this and you decide you want it right away.

  So I'll be updating tonight when I get back instead of waiting, although the latter will be easier for most. From their page:

From the Amazon update page
We have a new, free software update available for your Kindle Touch that you can manually download. We will be delivering this update over Wi-Fi in the coming weeks.
New features in this update include:
  • Language Support: Customize your Kindle Touch with the language you prefer: English (US and UK), German, French, Spanish, Italian, or Brazilian Portuguese.
  • Landscape Mode: Switch between portrait and landscape orientation in books and PDFs to read maps, graphs, and tables more easily.
  • Instant Translations: Tap any word or highlight a section to instantly translate into other languages, including Spanish, Japanese, and more. Translations by Bing Translator.
  • Kindle Format 8: Formatting and layout improvements make Kindle books look even better.
  • Wi-Fi Enhancements: Connect your Kindle Touch to Wi-Fi with WPS and select WPA2 Enterprise networks.
  • Read-to-Me With Text-to-Speech: Have your Kindle Touch read English-language content out loud to you, now including summaries of newspaper and magazine articles when available from the publisher.
  • More Sharing Options: Tell others what you're reading on Facebook or Twitter from anywhere within a book — just tap to share a link along with your comments.
  • Onscreen Keyboard Suggestions: Search and shop faster with automatic word suggestions as you type.

Instructions for downloading if you don't want to wait are at the Kindle touch v5.1 upgrade page.

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. Ohboy ohboy! I think I'm about to start liking my KT that it is finally 'finished'.

    You can now filter the home screen (or archived items) by item type (all, books, periodicals, audible, documents, active content. And this 'sticks': pressing Home does not clear the filter thus set. I like this, but wish there were a filter for 'Samples' also (I always want more...).

    Selection now lets you search wikipedia directly, translate, and also 'report a content error'!! Very cool. No Google search (3G doesn't let you).

    Search from the popup search box still does not work right (why doesn't selecting a search option on the dialog immediately initiate search? Why do I have to touch 'Go'?

    Browser scrolling seems a little better—I could not get it to scroll more than about 55-60% at a time before. Still wish they added 'page up/down mode' (via tap zones or l/r swipe).

    So you must use Menu to get to archived items now. Still no ability to sort Archive by 'recent' as on Fire etc. But with the 'quick search' dialog, not a big deal.

    Landscape, yay! I'd prefer landscape setting was item specific. For example I may want a particular PDF in landscape, but not reflowable formats. At least the reader options should be orientation specific, as one may well prefer different ones depending on orientation. Oh well, it is good enough. Home screen remains in Portrait (same as 'Kindle' NT?), which is okay (ad-supported kindle ads would take up half the screen in landscape).

    You may have seen over on Mobileread that the landscape has been turned on via hack, and apparently there's even hardware in there to do this automatically (accelerometer). But that capability seems not enabled in this update.

    For some reason I thought you could get French dictionary if you set UI language to French etc., but apparently not. The selection of add-on dictionaries in Kindle Store is still quite poor. But at least there's Bing translate now, which should be perfectly fine when online (currently supporting 16 languages including C/J/K, Russian, Hindi, Finnish). Nice.

    Fixed-layout KF8 not supported (yet? or never?). I may try a sideload. My Harry Potter book now has drop caps that are just as ugly on KT as on Fire.

    Time to check again to see if PD service supports KF8 yet...probably not, but they probably won't make a big deal about it when they turn that on, so need to keep checking and sending kindle-feedback until then.

    All in all, a most impressive update, more than I expected, and probably the last substantive one for KT. Presumably Kindle 'NT' is about to get an update for KF8, then it will be on to new devices.

    1. Wow, Tom
      It's almost midnight and I just got back home. Will reply later but wanted to thank you for the results of all your usual explorations and I will use them in the body higher up or make a new blog post for it.

      Thanks! I agree re this being a big update. I think it's today partially to offset the Nook glowing ereader announcement that's said to be due tomorrow or a week after tomorrow. Nook never has the software features I want though.

  2. According to this article, this update is also for the Kindle Fire ... According to the amazon page linked in this article, it is not for Kindle Fire ...


    1. Shannara, re "this article" what did you mean? I don't see "Kindle Fire" mentioned for the update. I have a sig-area identifying ALL current Kindle models at the end of each blog post though. Is that where you saw it? It has Kindle Keyboard and DX and NoTouch listed in the blog footer also, if that's what you meant?

  3. What I really want to see is an update to the Kindle Keyboard (aka K3) to allow connecting to wifi with WPA2 Enterprise.

  4. I just discovered they have finally added 'NCX navigation', something not even mentioned in the update notes. For books with an NCX defined, Go To now shows a (hierarchical) list of the navpoint labels corresponding to beginning of chapters/sections, showing current location in the book (label in bold) and associated page numbers (with books that have real page numbers).

    This feature has been on ePub systems forever, but Kindle has only made indirect use of it previously (for navigating chapters with 5way or swipe up/down in the case of KT). It makes navigation much more efficient and is now the best way of figuring out where you are in the book and what is coming up and how long a given chapter is.

    Between this, and KF8, Amazon has finally erased all of deficiencies of its format with respect to ePub2. (and yes, fixed-layout can be sideloaded on KT, but it doesn't work 'correctly'—text is not positioned correctly, no panel view, pagination doesn't work right).

    For books without NCX, the option to jump to the (linked) TOC is still available (when such a linked TOC has been defined and tagged as such).

    The 'glowing Nook': ho hum. Nook still has no landscape, no web browser, no wireless library borrowing, no personal document service. While B&N does one new thing, Amazon does 10. They're falling further behind.

    1. Tom, sorry you were put through all that. I just got back and now have to leave again, without being able to update the blog and there's a lot I want to say but can't.

      The Nook: I guess they finally announced that today. Wish I could read it but can't right now. But they added none of those important features they've been missing? Bad. But some will want more the glowing feature. Looking fwd to reviews. Back tonight....

  5. There's finally an 'NCX navigator'!: for books that have defined an NCX structure (previously used only for the chapter navigation using 5way or swipe up/down on KT), Go To now shows option for Beginning, Page or Location..., followed by a scrolling, hierarchical list of 'navpoint' labels, with the label corresponding to your current location shown in bold. Page numbers are also included if the book has page numbers. Books without NCX show an option to go to the (hyperlinked) Table of Contents as before (if they have a TOC defined).

    This feature has been part of most ePub reading systems forever (as well as in the Kindle Previewer app), but this is the first time it has shown up on Kindle. It's a much more efficient way of navigating the book structure than the linked TOC, and showing the current position helps establish context. When page numbers are present, it also gives you information about how long each section is. Between this and KF8, my 'ePub envy' is at last extinguished. Hopefully they'll roll this out to other Kindles and Kindle apps. It's something I've been wanting for a long time.

    It's possible to side-load KF8 fixed layout files, but they don't function properly (text positions overlap, no panel view, page navigation is bad).

    Oh heck. The 'improvements' to wifi have made it impossible for KT to connect to one of the wifi networks I inhabit. It requires loading a secured web page to logon, and the SSL certificate happens to be invalid. Before I could tell it to ignore the error and continue. Now I am not offered that option and am stuck. Boo.

    As for the Glowing Nook, ho hum. For every new thing B&N does like this, Amazon does ten, and if rumors are at all accurate, Amazon will have its own glowing version in a few months (last week's 'leak' to that effect was probably no accident). B&N is not otherwise improving their ecosystem, and is falling further behind. Gotta give them credit for trying, however. But in an expanding market they should be able to hold on to a slice and survive, especially if they spin off Nook on its own.

    1. Tom, you're such a great e-reader feature explorer :-) What you describe is fantastic. I wonder why they didn't bother to explain that?

      I still plan to blog someof the things you've found. I have to finish a couple of sudden projects first. I did read that the implementation of the glowing e-reader has not been ideal, but it still should be a big draw for people who can't stand to use external lighting.

      Thanks for all the findings.

  6. Sorry if that last post was a duplicate. Blogspot no longer shows 'your post will appear after approval' and it looked like my earlier one didn't take (I had to sign in after hitting Publish, had a bad internet connection, and it looked like it lost the post I'd typed).

  7. Personal Documents service still doesn't like KF8. Come on, Amazon...

  8. I sent you an email but

    Unless I have totally lost my mind, the update to the Touch brings a noticable improvement in the sharpness of the text. Also it looks like the background may be a tad lighter, but I'm willing to concede that point if the sharpness of the text is responsible for the background looking lighter. Interested to find out if you see the same thing.

    I'm not a big feature user as I only download and read without using anything else but the occasional TTS on my daily commute. However---the new in-book navigation is quite nice.

    1. Jazz!,
      I just got back half an hour ago and am plowing through, so I've missed a lot, things are moving so fast right now. Will do the update later tonight and see, but I received an email report that someone else feels the font is darker. This will happen if they lightened the background too, of course.

      I'm a huge keyboard searcher and I use PDFs, which have been non-ideal in portrait mode, so I'm happy about Landscape. Translation features I use often on the computer so it'll be really good to be able to get help with the gist of other-language words or phrases. TTS I use mostly for newspaper articles, so this will be good to have finally, as I was used to it on the Keyboard mdoel.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  9. Correction: Blogspot 'sometimes' doesn't show 'your post will appear after approval'. I think only when I'm not signed in before clicking 'Publish'.

    1. Ah, okay, that does make sense, Tom.
      Odd they wouldn't give that message to anyone allowed to post though(all are allowed to send one). Thanks.

  10. It's possible I missed it before, but you can now zoom images beyond full screen zoom and pan them, just like on Fire and the mobile Kindle apps. So you can take full advantage of whatever resolution is available (as when 'optimized for Kindle DX', as they used to say).

    I think the hyperlink (footnote) 'hotspots' are larger. Very easy to jump to footnotes, even when the reference is only a single character at the smallest text size.

    Also it bears mention that you can now make text selections that span adjacent pages. Takes a little practice but if you start your selection, drag to the first/last word on the page, and hold for a moment, the page turns, and then you can drag to the desired end point on that page (or keep going to the next page). It's the first such solution for multipage text selection that I've seen in any touch enabled reading app.

    The Translate feature is nice for decoding those islands of French or Spanish that you sometimes find in otherwise English text. Maybe Italian can serve for Latin translation. Also I believe Kindle still has problem using dictionaries for languages it does not support, like Russian or Norwegian or Japanese. This is kind of a workaround for that, though I can say that Bing's Russian to English translation is pretty bad, many words are just transliterated to Latinized alphabet rather than translated.

    The picture viewer is still gone. But this update has had a number of pleasant surprises...and for me, only one thing broke (my wifi edge case).

    1. Tom, you're right. The Touch didn't let you expand an image beyond the borders as we can with the KFire, so this is really good. Highlighting across pages has been a huge wish and, despite the touch zones, they've been able to do it and didn't even announce that. Kudos to them.

      Have you been able to make a mobi 'book' that is just a collection of images, one after another? Either with MS Word or by just placing one phone after another?

      (I've not installed my update yet as am working on other things. Can try this myself after Sunday.)

      That Thunder and Lighting I was caught up in on the ride across the Bay Bridge? Several of the bolts struck the tower and never made it to the water, while I was on it. It was a sound and light show, but a fairly scary one. Worst in years. There were 750 lighting bolts.

    2. You can create a .zip file with your photos (jpg, bmp, png) and send it to the Personal documents service; that will generate a mobi. Obviously you would want to reduce the resolution appropriately, and possibly rotate so that they're all in 'portrait' and therefore fill the screen better before being zoomed.

      I think it would not be too difficult to write a script that takes a folder of photos, generates HTML with thumbnails and captions for each, that allow you to zoom the thumbnail up to full screen (or beyond for some devices), and then call kindlegen (or calibre) to convert to a mobi photo album.

      I was actually in South Bay Thursday, but somehow managed to miss the 'show'. These things can be pretty localized, though.

    3. Tom, I don't think the fury of that now sort of infamous thunderstorm started until about 8:30pm that night. It really surprised us, or should I say almost shocked us!


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