Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kindle Tips: Kindle Reading app updates for iOS (v4.3) and Android (v4.5) - Switch between reading and listening in the app. Other enhancements for both iOS and Android.


Kindle reading-apps for Android and iOS updated with Audible Integration -- switching between reading and listening within the app

Salient points from the Amazon's press release:
The updated apps make it possible for you to "switch instantly between reading a Kindle book and listening to the companion audiobook from Audible—all with just one tap, without leaving the book."

Russ Grandinetti, SVP, Amazon Kindle, points out what they've tried to do here.  “Integrating professional narration into our Kindle apps means you never have to put down a favorite book -- start reading at home, get in the car and simply tap a button to continue listening without losing your place.

" Audio upgrades are available for as little as $0.99, with upgrades to bestsellers like the Outlander series and The Hunger Games series available for as little as $3.99."

"Professional narration is available for more than 45,000 Kindle books and growing—including popular best-sellers from an array of genres.  You can easily add professional narration to your favorite Kindle books with one click using Matchmaker, a service that scans your Kindle library to find which of your Kindle books have a companion Audible version available.

  Audio upgrades are available for as little as $0.99, with upgrades to bestsellers like the Outlander series and The Hunger Games series available for as little as $3.99."

"For as little" of course means that these are the lowest prices and that other combinations will cost more.

That "Matchmaker page-report is really nicely done and, on my own Kindle books, the report page indicates that the most prevalent audio-addition cost, in my case, is between $3.99 and $6.49 but there is an occasional crazy $12.99, which I would never pay when I already have the Kindle book.  Audible and its authors/publishers should take another look at those.  But I see a couple that I'll probably get for the $4 additional since I often don't feel like (or can't be) reading but often wouldn't mind listening to a book (especially since I'm so behind on the ones I bought).

How does Whispersync for Voice work?
Amazon's Whispersync for Voice page has a clear diagram showing the basics of how the parts relate and how you use this convenient feature (without relying on the computerized voice we heard with the older eInk Kindles that had audio).

If this is a NEW Android app install
If you've never installed the Android app,
• go to Amazon's Kindle for Android app page
• Select "Download now"
• Follow the instructions to download the app to your device
• After installing the Kindle reading app, you'll need to register it to your Amazon account.

Kindle reading-app Updates - Where?
  . Kindle for Android Phone update page at Amazon appstore
  . Kindle for Android Tablet update page at Amazon appstore
  . or, if Google play was the original source anyway, Android Updates from Google play.

Apple's iTunes lists Additional features for the iOS v4.3 update:
• Access to more than 45,000 Kindle/Audible title pairs, including best sellers
• Find audiobooks compatible with items in your Kindle library – audiobooks are delivered by Audible, an Amazon company
• Whispersync for Voice automatically synchronizes reading progress between the Audible and Kindle versions of a book
• Read and listen to a Kindle book at the same time; pages turn automatically
• Narration speeds up to 2x and a sleep timer
• Download an entire collection – gives customers the ability to download an entire collection with the tap of a button, making it easier for readers to download in bulk and load their favorite books on a new iOS device
• Students can now find terms that are in X-Ray for Textbooks by using search – occurrences in X-Ray are shown right above occurrences in the book
• Finding where an X-Ray term occurs on a textbook page is now easier – tap a page thumbnail in the X-Ray feature and you will see the term highlighted in the page of the book
• Performance and stability improvements

Intrepid Explorer and Early Tester Tom Semple points out the ability to download an "entire collection," with one tap, to a new IOS device. Although I wasn't able to imagine why anyone would want to put their entire collection on a phone, Tom points out that their set-up routine shows that they mean "*a* collection" or collection set, not one's entire collection of Kindle books, which makes more sense but I wouldn't want to do even that, to a phone. I'd rather do multi-tagging and find it important to have, on my phone, only the few books I want to read currently.  And, although the good idea of using just one button when there are so many books in a collection, it makes me wonder why on earth one would want a large collection on the phone.  It could be that I've become too 'Clouded' in my approach.

Kindle for Android apps - new features
Amazon now seems to have (or is ready to have, in the future) individual apps for Android for phones and for tablets.  They both list the following features (adding "real-time highlighting" - a Kindle Fire HD feature since 2012:
• Read and listen to books simultaneously with real-time highlighting
• Find and purchase companion Audible audiobooks from the app
• Add multicolor highlights to text
• Copy and paste text from your book
• View reading progress from book badges in your Kindle library
• View download progress from the notification shade on your device
• Jump directly to previous locations with “placeholders” on the progress bar
• Tap the Back button to return to your Kindle library while reading

Note that, for the Kindle for Android apps, there's no mention of the ability to download an entire collection (set), via a tap, to a new Android device.  Again, I don't see that as something I'd want to do) -- I might for a tablet with good storage space though.

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. Interesting. I can get inexpensive Whispersync audio upgrades for titles I picked up for free. That is one way to beat those high, non-subscriber Audible prices. If I commuted a lot, I might be tempted. Listen in situations where reading is impractical (like on a walk or bouncing around on a bus). Then read for speed when I'm back home. The best of both worlds.

    Alas, I don't have a audiobook to test what speeds are offered. That "Narration speeds up to 2x" does me no good. I hate listening at that speed. Does anyone know if it has speeds of 1.25X and 1.5X? The former works marvelously for almost anything. The latter is fine for most fiction.

    What I can't understand is why those who create these kinds of apps think anyone who's not on the manic end of manic-depression wants to listen at 2X. For instance, 2X is the ONLY speed-up the podcast player in iTunes has. Having only what we don't want borders on insulting. Has anyone at Apple actually listened at 2X?

    --Michael W. Perry, co-author of Lily's Ride

    1. Michael, do you mean that the inexpensive Whispersync audio upgrades for free Kindle titles you picked up are more than 99c so you haven't gotten an audiobook to test speeds offered? I have a link to any existing free Kindle books that are whispersync ready: http://bit.ly/whispersync-for-voice-freebooks. Today there's only one showing, and if you click on it, the Audible upgrade is 99c on it. Might be worth iit to try that, as a test, but the book doesn't look very interesting.

      Not having an iOS mobile device I've no idea re the possible other speeds, but I sure agree with you on how useless 2X would be.

  2. In contrast to the iOS app, the Android app has very good discovery for finding 'Audio Upgrades': it has an option for that on the Home menu (I have 173 available!). An 'Upgrade with Audio' option also appears on the menu when reading a book. Also the phrases are highlighted as they are read out, as with immersion reading on the Fire. The placeholder feature is interesting. I think Fire has this too but I didn't realize the dots I saw on the progress bar did anything. Now I gotta try it out...

    The irony is that the Fire reading app has not been updated significantly since the Fire shipped. Meanwhile both iOS and Android have had a couple of relatively major updates. Going forward, it seems, the only way to experience an improved reading app for the Fire is to buy a new Fire tablet.

    1. Tom - Yes, I think you had mentioned that iOS puts in roadblocks for linking to Audible version, but Google folks are less interested in their possible 'take' on an in-app purchase. That Matchmaker feature being available in the Android app is nifty. I did separately mention the real-time highlighting (which I've enjoyed on the Kindle Fire HD versions when trying out free audiobook samples at the time of the 2012 launchl) for the Android version. I wish I had reason to use my Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Tab 3 more but at least I can try these out on it.

      Thanks for the heads-up, in general. I had not realized the Kindle Fires might have that placeholder feature. In the past, the Kindle Fire received features AFTER the iOS one did ! It makes me wonder if Apple's users use the Kindle reading function on their tablets more than the Kindle Fire owners :-)

    2. Yes, I have verified the Fire (at least the 3rd gen Fires) have the placeholder feature. Black dots appear and if you tap these it jumps directly. Nice for reference books and such. I don't know how to clear these however. Removing and re-downloading does not work.

      This is the link iOS users should bookmark to discover and purchase 'Audio upgrades' (using Safari or another web browser on their device):


    3. Tom, I'll have to check the placeholder feature (am in the middle of many home changes) ... I had thought you'd jump directly to what was wanted and a 'Back' would automatically clear it. But obviously I'm not understanding what it does.

      Yes, re the iOS (or any other) users: I use that link in my bold-faced "Matchmaker" link in the orange box for "Salient points" above. My link, after you land, shows this report of matching audio available and adds my blog referrer ID. That's also the underlying link for "Matchmaker page-report" in the next paragraph. I should add the bare link for those typing it in but my blog entries are already wordy. Once people arrive on that Matchmaker page, they can of course bookmark it. I really like it, so did mention that it's really well done, but I probably should add that link to the iOS app area too, as people will tend to skip over quotes from the PR release. And I should make it clearer that this is the function for finding out which of your existing books have the audio upgrades...


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