Monday, April 29, 2013

Kindle News: Large Kindle for Android Update - new features, customer reactions. Tom Semple adds what he's found.

New update for the free Kindle for Android app - v4.0.1.3

The Amazon Kindle for Android updates:
· New design and user interface: Apparently many customers have told Amazon that they really like the User Interface (UI) of the Kindle Fire, as find it easy to access and navigate the content on the tablet.

  Amazon has extended that design to Kindle for Android by
  1. optimizing the Kindle Store for tablets
  2. improving the library interface
  3. redesigning the home screen, which includes the Carousel option for recent items), and
  4. simplifying navigation through the app.

· Easy access to samples: To help customers new to Kindle or Kindle apps get started, Amazon is making samples of many of the best sellers very easy to find; the samples will be on the home screen of their Kindle app.

More info is at the Kindle for Android details page.

From Google Play store's What's New page
What's in this version:
• Redesigned library experience.
• Carousel displays recent items on the Kindle app home screen.
• Navigation panel organizes content for quick access to your Books, Documents, and Newsstand periodicals.
• Browse all your items in the Cloud or just the content downloaded on your Android device.
• Explore and download popular samples in the Kindle Store.
• Fixed a crash some customers reported.

Contributor Tom Semple weighed in early
This guy is the Kindle world's intrepid explorer and is everywhere.
Tom has given permission to quote what he's found so far (I'm just late getting to it, and I saw reports that some are finding that the Table of Contents can be balky under the new update and that customer service has said they are aware of that and are working on it).

  Here's Tom: (Bracketed entries are mine.)
' Kindle for Android finally has a version of the 'Cloud/Device' pattern found on Kindles and Kindle apps, with Recent added to Sort options.  Very welcome.  [Yay!]

  As usual, there's also an experiment: an item called 'Popular Samples' brings up a list of 25 samples that we are to believe are popular (and hopefully not some manipulation on the part of Amazon to direct us to certain books).
    [They say they're from the already "best sellers.]

The Kindle Store experience has been greatly improved as well.  There's also a Carousel view, which thankfully one does not need to use. [ ]  Now, if only they'd add TTS [Text-to-Speech], I would use the app a little more (which I try to do anyway on the assumption that Amazon updates the apps that are used the most).

By my count there are at least 3 features unique to Kindle for Android:
- Voice search
- Send To Kindle (shows up as a Sharing option with a number of other Android apps)
- Popular Samples'

Thanks, Tom.  I use Google Voice search a lot on my Samsung S2 phone and on my 10" Galaxy tablet which I hardly use anymore since I am spoiled by the HD display of the KFires.

  Off topic
  Although we're talking about Kindle for Android and NOT Kindle Fire apps, I just tested my Google Voice app on my Kindle Fire anyway (I downloaded the app from long ago) and it works really well.  This is just my usual, confusing side note.

  I use Dolphin browser (for its Flash support) on the KFire and when I brought up google search, I touched the side "||" mark to get the Menu on the side and tapped the Star to get Favorites while still using Dolphin browser  Then I tapped 'Voice' and once I did that, the mic icon showed and asked me to say what I wanted and I said, "a kindle world" and it gave me a short list of what I might have said to the mic.  I tapped the correct item and then Dolphin browser took over, and the Google links to the blog showed up.  Can we say 'insular' ? But Google Voice is so smooth -- both on pure Android devices (the topic of this blog article) and even on the Kindle Fire.

BACK to the topic of Kindle for Android devices
The user reviews for the Kindle for Android app at Google play store are an interesting read.  Excerpts from the first few on the top (the most recent):
. Wow, great app to read book - Also, the dictionary is very good as some people mentioned. Great work, Amazon!

. BETTER NOW...The app's interface is much cleaner and modern now.
[He mentions it has List View and that you don't have to use the Carousel.  You can just open the slider on the left, tap books and at the top right, toggle list view or grid view.]
. Best of the DRM readers [Loves the new Recent reads and the Carousel, as well as "the whole new layout. Good job!"]
That was just the first three showing right now, and you have to click on 'more' to read the rest.
  The 2nd page notes some things people want it to do (like TTS].

  Also, it's evident that the phone users are less ecstatic about how the layout fits on the smaller screens -- some of it is optimized for tablets.  Table of Contents links are too close to the edge on some devices, so you might turn back a page instead of going to the chapter selected.  Amazon is working on fixes for any glitches with the table of contents.

  Things to watch for:
  Reading progress was reset in a few cases.
  Some don't realize the Carousel is an option and that you can choose between List and Grid views.

  A mix of really happy and really unhappy reactions :-) depending on the devices.

  AND, at the Amazon app store, here are the reviews sorted by most recent date so that you can see what people are finding - positive and negative - about the update.

  5-star ratings are most evident, but with a few who experienced problems.  You should view these to see what experiences are for the pure-Android device(s) you own.  Again, customer support says they ARE working on an update for the glitches that occur in the Table of Contents for some.

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. DIdn't notice the TOC problem, but sure enough it is there (or should I say, not there—the menu item in the Go To menu seems to be always disabled). Actually they should just add support for 'Active Table of Contents' (NCX navigator) and I wouldn't miss the other thing.

  2. Tom, thanks for the confirmation and expanded info too.

  3. It all sounds great, but where the heck do I find a Users Guide for the Kindle Android App? I can't figure out how to import the books already on my tablet.

    Ted H

    1. Ted, get an Android file manager like ES File Explorer onto your Android tablet if you don't already use one.

      Find your .azw or .mobi book and then copy and paste the title to "/sdcard/kindle" folder.

      Even a pure PDF file can be read that way now too. I didn't have one of these files on my Samsung Android tablet, so I emailed from my laptop a PDF file to my [me] email address made (at manageyourkindle page for that tablet (which we register on that management page). My Samsung is a device there and is Kindle-compatible for their apps.

      It'll keep a copy of the book file on the server to sync your reading, keep it in PDF FORMAT, and then the kindle for Android program will read it very well now.

      If you want to convert the pdf to a Kindle format file, email it to that same address for the tablet but this time put "Convert" in the subject line.

      Nothing is needed in the body of the message in either case (although I put a period there just to have something in there so the program doesn't ask me about a blank message).

      Both of these actions will send, first the pdf file to the Kindle file on the tablet and to the server area and then, for your second request, the pdf file CONVERTED this time to Kindle format, to the server and that tablet folder.
      This conversion is usually done to use the Kindle book features on the converted file.

      Hope that helps. I don't think there's a user file for it. (I could be wrong.)

  4. Thanks for the info, it's really useful. But I also need a user guide or similar. I am trying to figure out if the phone display will go to sleep after some set time of inactivity. Currently I have it set to 1 minute, but I just experimented with the Kindle for Android and it seems to override that. Which makes sense, but I often go to sleep while reading, so it's good to be able to set that. Is there such an option, or a fuller user guide anywhere?

    1. Anonymous (Sept 21 at 8:49pm)
      Apologies for the lag time in response. I was on another project and forgot to check Comments area.
      Here is a google search-results listing for a user's guide for Kindle for Android.

      Hope that will help.

    2. Zed, I just realized you signed your question with a name. I'm surprised that the phone doesn't go to sleep after an interval of no activity even with an active reader's app, since user activity of some type would normally be required to keep the display On.


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