Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kindle Tips: Kindle for IOS update version 4.5 mid Sept 2014 (and v4.5.1 yesterday) . Customer forum tips on handling oddities that may occur with iOS 7 and 8.x

The Kindle Forum has a recent announcement that Kindle for IOS, v4.5 has been ready for download.  Apple's problems with iOS 8 and then the abrupt recall of iOS 8.01 last week due to suddenly non-functioning features, for too many, appeared to affect apps.
  Apple's problems with iOS v8.01 update included loss of cellular and WiFi connectivity, lag, sync'g issues, and Touch ID not working for many.

  I waited for things to settle down a bit and am logging this Kindle for iOS update and adding tips and workarounds from customers and Kindle Forum moderators.

  As of a couple of days ago, Apple released iOS 8.02 Friday to fix the problems with iOS 8 and 8.01, but unfortunately, customers are still reporting both cellular call and WiFi problems as well as slowness, affecting several earlier iPhone models.  These will affect apps on the devices too, of course.

  PhonesReview requested feedback on v8.02 and it's not good news.  From the feedback, the problems seem worse for too many.

  But it's time I logged here what the Kindle for iOS update v4.5 has in enhanced features.  Customer and Kindle Support tips from the forum will be below the announcement by Amazon.  ((V4.5.1 was reported by one customer to have been received yesterday.)

 Here's a copy of the announcement (Any bolded emphases are mine).
' Initial post: Sep 18, 2014 01:56 AM PDT
Megan H. - Forum Moderator says:

We're pleased to announce the latest version of Kindle for iOS is now available in the Apple App Store.

What's New in Version 4.5?

Kindle for iOS Version 4.5 makes reading multiple books easier with the handy Kindle Today Widget. Customers also get the ability to copy passages from their books and paste them into text messages, e-mail, and other applications on iOS outside of Kindle.  Readers who encounter words or phrases in other languages can quickly comprehend the author's meaning with a convenient translation feature. This release also includes iOS 8 support, bug fixes, and stability improvements.

* Kindle Today Widget (iOS 8 only - Multi-book readers can now surf between books from anywhere on the device by pulling down the `Today' view and tapping on one of the three titles in the Kindle Widget. They can choose from their most recently opened library titles, like the `jump' function on a TV remote.

* Copy & Paste - Customers asked and we listened. Version 4.5 includes the ability to copy passages from your books and add them to the iOS clipboard for pasting into a text message, e-mail, social media, or other iOS applications outside of Kindle.

* Smart Lookup Translation Card - Authors often include phrases in other languages to add depth or meaning to a story. Readers can now get a full understanding by selecting the word or phrase and viewing the translation card. '

Re the Copy & Paste
Remember that, as with Notes Export, there's an alternate way for you to export notes and highlights from any Kindle book, not just the "Print Replica" textbooks.  Kindle-compatible device- or app owners have a personal, password-protected website that holds your annotations for each book.  You can view them by Your Highlights (which are grouped secondarily by book) or you can choose 'Books.'
You can copy (for emailing or personal logging) and print sections from these.

A few customer tips and feedback from Amazon's Kindle Community forum
The first report was that the app works fine with iOS 7.  Here are some responses of possible interest to readers here:
' Dorsie says
You press the word at the start of the section you want to copy.  When the highlight color circles appear, drag the right control to the and of the last word in the section.  It will allow you to drag to the next page if you need to.  The highlight control bar shows four colors and three b/w controls.  The b/w control third from the right and just to the right of the orange color looks like two overlapping pages.  Press that and the word Copied will pop up.

Now the whole section is in the clipboard and can be pasted into any other app when you press and hold in an input section and select Paste. This could be a word processor or e-mail or any app that allows text input.

LASoundCrafter says:
Great copy function.  Also, they kept the reading feature: I use the triple tap on the home button to turn on "voice over" and the "double swipe" down and Siri starts reading on and on ... The translation feature is very good.  Overall a very stable upgrade.

Cindy says:
No problems with 10000+ books on ipad air.

C. Petko says:
I just upgraded to iOS 8, have upgraded Kindle for ipad, and cannot see the widget for what I am reading today yes, I have two books started if that makes a difference

thebeartrack says:
The translation feature is not working on my iPad using iOS 8.  I have deregistered, deleted the app, many times to no avail. It works fine on my iPhone 5s.  Calling Amazon gave me no help at all.  They said it was an Apple problem......SOS

A call to Apple solved my problem.  I needed to restore as a new iPad and then restore my apps. Works like a champ now!!  I love the translation feature!!! Good job Kindle!!!

R. Thomas says:
I have an iPod, not an iPad, and I wasn't aware of this feature [Kindle Today Widget] until I read your post.

Here's how I figured it out on the iPod, which I just updated this morning.

Pull down the notification pane, the pull down menu from the top - school down and you'll see "edit" and I'm sure you can take it from there.

Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. I nearly always have two or three books going at once , and this is a very nice feature. THANKS!!

lonbeehold says:
Go to the bottom of your notification list when you're in the Today tab on your home screen. You will see an edit button. Tap it to see the apps that you give the option to have a notification appear in the Today tab. Tap Kindle to turn the feature on.

thebeartrack says:
Does anyone have an iPad Air with the Kindle application?  This is what I have but the translation in the dictionary will not function.  It works just fine on my husband's iPad 2 and my iPhone 5s. I have deleted, reinstalled, de registered until I am blue in the face.  I also phoned Amazon and they just told me it is an Apple problem.  Any help out there in the ether????
[ No answer yet ]

KMH says:
In order to have enough storage space in my iPad, I deleted my kindle app so I could download iOS 8.
When I went to reinstall the app, it is stuck in an installing mode. I tried to delete it and start again but it won't let me delete it. It says "installing" and it's been like that for days. Help!!

Dorsie says:
If a simple restart doesn't help, try the hard restart done by pressing and holding both the power and home buttons until it turns off. It won't harm any data or apps. After about ten seconds press and hold the power button until it starts rebooting.

Gabriele says:
...ever since Ive upgraded, my app seems to not download new content.  It keeps saying 'downloading' but never actually does.  Then i'll try a bit later on and it works.  Sometimes i send new content to my kindle app and it doesnt even recognise that i've send anything.  My internet connection is fine and i've tried turning the phone on and off (I read everything on my iphone) but nothing changes.  I've NEVER had this issue before, the only thing i can think of is this upgrade maybe having a bug? Has anyone else had this issue? Any suggestions?

Anna F. Forum Moderator says:
Hi Gabrielle, I'd recommend removing the app and re-downloading it.  If you continue to experience delays in downloading, please contact us through this link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us/kindle-help.html?ref=cssoc_FM_CU_KIN

S. Kessler says:
I tried out the copy and paste function, and it's a little tricky to get just what you want in a passage, but once I tried a few things, I got it to work beautifully.  This is absolutely the best update feature.

shermie says:
...I have been told my older iPad would have difficulties with ios8 so not to update that at this time.

Sonja S. - Forum Moderator says:
Hey shermie, you'll need to have iOS 7 or greater installed. If you don't have iOS 8 installed you won't have access to some of the features, for example the Kindle Today Widget...

Ed says:
Yeah, observed the same distraction with page turn animation. Turned it off.
Library>settings>page animations.

Mary McManus says:
I am using the latest version of iOS7 on an iPad 3 and a mini.  Both of them have the latest Kindle update.  The Kindle app on the iPad3 seems to be working fine but on the mini is very sluggish with page turns, either tapping or swiping there is a delay.  I have flicked the app out of the recently used apps and then did a restart by holding the home and power buttons, but it's still slow.  Any suggestions?

Dorsie says:
Haven't heard of this one, but it could come from hidden copies of books caused by duplicate registrations. If you find you have to delete and reregister anyway, use IPad Setting, General, Usage and let it bring up memory use for all apps. Select the Kindle app and delete it with the Red Delete button. That will get rid of the orphan books/data too. Then use Manage Your Content and Devices and deregister the iPad and any duplicates from there. That gives you a perfectly clean slate at both companies to redownload and reregister the app...

Paul Gorman says:
Looks bad on the iPhone 6 Plus.  I expected to see the whole page like on my iPad mini instead it is an iPhone view.  Don't you know the 6 plus is an iPad micro? :-)

Dorsie says:
The Accessibility Zoom feature can help with this. It's super easy to use and the screen stays stable as you turn pages.

Here's the iOS 8 online manual.
The Accessibility options icon is the fourth icon up from the bottom with all the info on how to use the zoom.

I recommend in Settings, General, Accessibility, Zoom turning off the new features "follow focus" and "show controller and set it to "full screen zoom." Zoom remembers the last magnification you used so it's simple to just tap twice with three fingers to turn it on and off. To see any part of the screen clipped by the zoom, drag with three fingers.

Edit to add: The Zoom works identically on iPads and iPhones. Here's the online manual for iPhone iOS 8.

Hussain Ahmadi says:
I love the kindle widget on ios 8 it saves time as I can go directly in the book.

However, when I finish reading a book how am I supposed to remove it from the widget? Is there any option for that?

David O. - Forum Moderator says:
... Hussain: In Today view, you can jump directly to where you left off in your three most recently read Kindle titles.
[AB Note: I'd think that removing the Kindle book from the device would work also if the developers coded to include in the widget only the most recently read that are still on your device... but i don't know that they did.]
Paul Gorman says:
I am reading a user manual for a camera which has many diagrams.  Then I loaded a page I had been reading on my iPad mini the diagram was half on the page and half outside the border and the text was huge.

Things improved by making the text much smaller which made the whole page real estate bigger and the images fitted into the page. I guess the images are not scaled like the text can be. The application text is still huge as that is not affected by the text being displayed...

Mary McManus says:
If your camera manual is a pdf file, I would highly recommend that you open it in the GoodReader app for the iPad which is superb for reading most any type of file: Word, Pages, pdf, jpegs.  But it is especially good for pdfs.  When I was reading books about World War I, I had saved maps from the internet as pdfs and put them in GoodReader so I could refer to them while reading the books on a Kindle.

Ed says: [in a post dated Sept 29, Monday]
There's a 4.5.1 update for iPad and phones available. '
Forum Source

Kindle reading-app Update - Where?
Go to the page for download instructions.
  If you have iOS 7 or above, the normal steps listed there apply.
The page has an "Important" section for those who are still on iOS versions earlier than iOS 7.

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.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-Ink readers available for order internationally when not available in country of residence. Interesting what is and isn't available or may be coming (back) soon.

QUICK NOTE: Revised the List of Current Kindles Globally to include new Amazon pages for new (and old) Kindles available for order from those outside the U.S. who need to order these models from Amazon-US rather than from their countries of residence.

  Here's the quick-list of current Kindles, globally. with links.
     I added Amazon's links to new product-pages for Kindles available for purchase
     from their "International" pages.  (The UK section was updated 9/21.)

As of today, for the International-order page, there's no basic Kindle e-Ink Reader, although that can change.

The 'Other Int'l pages' section there starts with the latest Paperwhite 2, which was slightly modified for more storage space and includes the model with '3G' as well.

  It also shows the 9.7" Kindle DX Graphite e-Ink eReader Int'l as being available again in "2 to 4 months" for international buyers.  Until then, it refers you to the page for the U.S. version of the DX which is available now ONLY in "Used" models for now.  They resuscitate this 9.7" eInk reader from time to time though.
  Apparently, someone at Amazon intends to bring back the 9.7" DX e-Ink reader again within months.

  The new 6-inch and 7-inch low-cost Fire HD tablets announced Sept. 17 ARE available for international orders as is the Yr 2013 HDX 7.
  The faster HDX has Mayday help feature but no rear-camera for normal photos.  Both have front-ones for Skype-type use.

  Oddly enough, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" (Yr 2012) tablet has an active International page but shows none available and no new orders possible, ALTHOUGH Amazon's order-box shows this:
  "Want us to email you when this item becomes available?" and asks for your email address.
  This model was notable for having a micro-HDMI-port for simple cable-out to any HDTV tv.

Is it just me, or are there a lot of available models to keep straight?

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Amazon's NEW lineup of e-Readers and Kindle Fire Tablets - First Quick Look 9/17/14 - Updated 9/19 to include Tablet Comparison Table, Trade-in your Kindle page, and more basic information

NEW AMAZON LINEUP, with new Kindle eReaders and UltraFast Fire Tablets
The new lineup of tablets and an ereader was announced Sept. 17, so this was a very quick announcement that night -- details are still being explored for the blog entry I'm working on to expand on the differences.

  Here's a quick-chart of current Kindles, globally.
     Added links to new pages for UK Kindles 9/21/14.

  The new models are ultra-fast versions of Fire tablets + a unique, hardy model specifically for "kids," as well as a new higher-resolution and brighter e-Ink Paperwhite Voyage reader with more contrast and also a new basic low-cost Kindle eReader that's now touch-based for easier navigation.

Originally posted 8:57pm Sept. 17 - Updated Sept. 19

For those who want to just read
KINDLE E-Ink Readers 2014 - Kindle Voyage and new basic Kindle 2014
Amazon's press release blurb includes these descriptions:
"The new Kindle Voyage, our thinnest, most advanced Kindle ever, with our brightest, highest resolution, and highest contrast display, plus reimagined page turns - $199"

  [AB-Note: The 'reimagined' page turns can be activated by pressing on the bezel now without having to reach across the screen to do it, and getting a small vibration that lets you know you've made a page turn (in the way we used to get feedback from the side 'buttons' going down and back up.]

" - New $79 Kindle is small and light, with weeks of battery life, a
20% faster processor, twice the storage, and now with a touch interface" [Finally]

New Fire Tablets - an ultrafast, higher resolution 8.9" model (same pricing) + 6" and 7" basic HD models + a hardy one for "kids"
The new Fire HD 6" 2014 is available for pre-order starting today for $99 for 6” and the Fire HD 7" 2014 at $139 for the 7” model and will begin shipping in October.

ALSO, via BLURBS from Amazon.
" The new Fire HDX 8.9, now higher performance, exclusive new audio, the fastest Wi-Fi and still startlingly light with a stunning HDX display.
  New Fire HDX 8.9 is $379. It is available for pre-order starting today...and will start shipping in October.
  The 4G version is $479 -- you can pre-order today at" the HDX-2014 page "and it will begin shipping in October.

[The current] Fire HDX 7 will continue to be available and will receive the Fire OS 4 update with many of these features later this year.  [You can] order today at [current Kindle Fire HDX 7 page] for just $199. "

  And in more detail, from Amazon's press release:
" Fast and fluid—Fire HDX 8.9 is powered by the latest generation quad-core 2.5 GHz processor and a 70% faster graphics engine

Perfect color, 339 ppi HDX display features Dynamic Light Control which automatically adjusts the color of the display to make the pages of a book more closely resemble a piece of paper in any light

First tablet with Dolby Atmos, plus loud and immersive audio that is twice as loud as the iPad Air

Fire OS 4 “Sangria” adds hundreds of new features and platform enhancements, including Firefly, ASAP, Smart Suspend, and other Amazon-exclusive features

Family Library lets family members easily share apps, games, audiobooks, books, and Prime Instant Video content, even if they use different Amazon accounts [Blog note: a key new feature...]

Free, unlimited cloud storage for photos

New Fire Keyboard is the thinnest and lightest full-featured tablet keyboard, with a trackpad that makes productivity and navigation easier than ever."

They also have a seriously powerful "Kids Edition" of the Fire HD tablet (costing more than the $99 version)
Details are at Fire HD Kids Edition and looks to be made for more durability than the 6" $99 Fire HD version

Click on this smaller image (here for convenience) to get the large version of the new Amazon Fire Tablet Comparison Table.
  Smaller version:

That's the skinny for now.  I'll be exploring the details more and will put them into a more organized blog article, with differences noted.  We have some current models that will stay current, for those who don't need the fastest and most-featured devices, and the new models look promising.

Did you know you can sell-back or trade-in used Kindles to Amazon?
Here's how it's done, with estimated $value for those in good condition.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kindle News: What's Amazon up to? Amazon quietly cuts one E-Ink reader and the Kindle Fire HD 7" tablet. Also changes product pages for this year's Paperwhite models now showing as not-available currently but then shows the new product-detail pages for these as devices Available - there are NO new features mentioned for them. Also, be careful about downloading "Kindle" books from non-Amazon sites. Updated for info on Current Paperwhite 2's.


The two Kindles shown above are apparently discontinued without an announcement (the product pages show no way to order either one and there's no wording that either is "out of stock"), and they don't show up in the Kindle family header anymore.

  John Sauter alerted us about the Kindle "NoTouch" Basic e-Ink eReader's absence from the lineup.

  And there was a quick sale (of only $20) on the Kindle HD 2nd Gen 7" tablet the other day, and now that model is gone also -- but on this one, Amazon offers "Certified Refurbished" versions, which carry the usual 1-year guarantee (and usually a 30-day refund if the buyer decides not to keep it).

The current models as of last week are the 6" Paperwhite eReader and the Fire HDX tablets in 7" and 8.9" form.  But they show the PAPERWHITE models AS not available currently and point us to new pages for both Paperwhite devices, which ARE shown as available -- and yet there are NO new features mentioned.  So, what are they doing? Are those being set up for actual new models coming? It's the oddest product-page change situation I've seen for these devices.

I'm using the old links here, and Amazon has an orange stripe on each one to lead you to the new product-detail pages (no new products or new features are mentioned). You can compare them that way.

  For the record, the NEW product-detail pages for each are new Paperwhite WiFi page and new Paperwhite WiFi/3G page.
  NOTE added Sept. 19: These are new PAGES for the still-current older Paperwhite 2's (and not for the totally new Paperwhite "Voyage" announced a day after this blog entry.

  (It doesn't help that Amazon has described both as "or 3G" -- but ignore that.)

  Maybe they're coming out with mildly upgraded hardware.  Will update as I find out more.

An alert from The Digital Reader
Nate Hoffelder reports, "Your Amazon Account Can be Hacked via a Kindle eBook from a non-Amazon site." for
  The hackers involved insert a script into the e-book, which, when added to your Kindle library, can start the script when you open the Kindle Library web page.

  "As a result, Amazon account cookies can be accessed by and transferred to the attacker and the victim’s Amazon account can be compromised."  More details in the article.

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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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Amazon App for Android Phone finally gets Prime Instant Video Viewing. Fire TV (for viewing videos on TV) expanding to the UK and Germany.

Note that this app is optimized for the Android phone (different dimensions from tablets), which when run will install the Amazon Prime Instant Video viewer the first time you choose a video. The video viewer will then always run from inside the Amazon for Android app.

  The Android app's product page has an alternate title of "Amazon App or Android," which probably means the version specifically for Android tablets could be coming later.

Those currently trying to use this on Android tablets with the older Android app for tablets will tend to find this doesn't work and will need to use the Amazon App for Android Phone (quietly released August 28) that supports the Prime Instant Video viewing.  For some tablets, the phone-focused app works.

. Reports from users are that it works well on Nexus 5 and 7 (and Cast Screen to the TV works with Prime); and Galaxy s5 at high resolution.  These are from early reports I viewed.

. Devices reported by users to have problems with the app currently:
  Some Galaxy Tab 3 phones, Galaxy S4, HTC One M8, Galaxy Note 2014, LG G3

    (Until the problems on some devices are resolved, you can always use
      the old workaround while making sure that you use the Amazon setting recommended
    and linked to in that article -- 'Flash' rather than 'Silverlight.
    This recommendation is mainly for the workaround.)

A main source of discontent (already) is that the app does not support Google's Chromecast device (to send video to the TV).
  Any who are eager to get it working on their TV in the meantime are able, however, to get the Amazon Fire TV box, for $99, which is both faster and much more capable, performance-wise, and has far more features.  You can view the Prime Instant video on the TV and run it from the Cloud, freeing up your phone or tablet for other activity.  You can also do simple mirroring, without lag.

  Fire TV is UK and Germany bound
    The box is expanding to the UK and Germany, shipping Oct. 23 in the UK and Jan. 1, 2015.

  Some articles on the Fire Tv:
* "The Set-Top Box That'll Read Your Mind" - Huffington Post, UK
* "...possibly the best single set-top box available ..."
* "I bought the Amazon Fire TV, and I love it which ends with a link to the full, more balanced review.  The Voice search is getting some cooperation, by the way, from both Netflix (down the line) and from Hulu already.
*   Recent improvements for Prime Instant Video on Fire TV.

I like the Chromecast for its portability, but I think the FireTV is a natural for those (especially families) who want to watch Prime Instant videos on their TV's with no-fuss and no lag.

BACK to the Amazon App for Android Phone and its Prime Instant Video viewer

From today's press release
Title: Prime Instant Video Now Available on Android Phones -- Exclusively Via the Amazon Appstore

Date(s): 9-Sep-2014 9:00 AM

Prime members can now enjoy unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes on their Android phones, including HBO shows such as The Sopranos, True Blood and The Wire, as well as popular series like Downton Abbey, Under the Dome, 24, Extant, and Suits, and the Amazon Original series Alpha House--and for kids, exclusive subscription streaming access to SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, and Amazon Original shows for kids, Tumble Leaf, Creative Galaxy and Annedroids

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sep. 9, 2014-- (NASDAQ:AMZN) -- Amazon today announced that Prime members in the US, UK and Germany can now enjoy Prime Instant Video on their Android phones. The latest update of the Amazon App for Android combines the fast and easy mobile shopping experience customers have come to know and love with access to unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes from Prime Instant Video. After updating their existing Amazon App for Android, customers wishing to stream Prime Instant Video movies and TV episodes can install the Prime Instant Video player app, which is delivered exclusively via the Amazon Appstore. Prime members can enjoy popular HBO series like The Sopranos, True Blood, and The Wire, as well as favorites like Downton Abbey, Under the Dome, and 24, on their Android phones at no additional cost to their membership. Eligible customers who are not already Prime members can sign up for a 30-day free trial to start receiving all of the benefits of Prime using the updated Amazon App for Android. Customers who don't yet have the Amazon App for Android can get the latest version at amazon.com/androidapp.

The new Amazon App for Android phones provides an award-winning mobile shopping experience on hundreds of millions of physical goods and now enables customers to discover and purchase all of Amazon's digital catalog.

The new Amazon App for Android includes:

Hundreds of millions of items for purchase, along with Customer Reviews, 1-Click purchase and access to account and delivery information
Tens of thousands of movies and TV shows available for unlimited streaming for Prime members, including favorite HBO shows such as The Sopranos, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under and The Wire, and Amazon Original series like Alpha House, Tumble Leaf, Creative Galaxy and Annedroids
More than 200,000 movies and TV episodes to rent or buy
Over 30 million songs
More than two million Kindle books, along with over 150,000 audiobooks and more than 600,000 exclusive books that customers won't find anywhere else
5GB of free photo back-up with Amazon Cloud Drive
"Tens of millions of our customers have installed the Amazon app on their Android phones in order to enjoy the ease and convenience of shopping Amazon on the go," said Paul Cousineau, Director of Mobile Shopping. "Now, the latest Amazon App for Android combines that award-winning mobile shopping experience with access to Amazon's digital products and services, including unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost for Prime members. At Amazon, we are always innovating on behalf of our customers and we look forward to receiving their feedback on this enhanced shopping experience."

Customers can visit amazon.com/androidapp for more information about the new Amazon App for Android.

Prime Instant Video Exclusives

Prime Instant Video is the exclusive online-only subscription home for a large and constantly-expanding selection of hit series, making it the go-to destination for Prime members who want to stay up to date on their favorite shows. Popular choices include HBO classics The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Rome and Six Feet Under, recent HBO favorites Eastbound & Down, Enlightened and Flight of the Conchords, and select seasons of current HBO series True Blood, Boardwalk Empire and Treme. Other hit TV show exclusives include PBS series Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, FX dramas The Americans and Justified, as well as 24, Orphan Black, Falling Skies, Hannibal, Grimm, Workaholics, Suits, Covert Affairs, Teen Wolf, Veronica Mars, CBS summer blockbuster series Under the Dome and now, Extant. Prime Instant Video also offers an exclusive collection of kids shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. that customers won't find on any other online-only subscription service, including favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Blue's Clues, and The Bubble Guppies. Airing now, Amazon's first original series Alpha House and Betas and first original kids series Tumble Leaf can be found exclusively on Prime Instant Video as well.

Customers can enjoy Prime Instant Videos on hundreds of compatible Amazon Instant Video devices, including Amazon Fire TV, Fire phone, Kindle Fire HDX, Kindle Fire HD, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation and the Wii. Prime Instant Video is the only U.S. online subscription streaming service that enables offline viewing--on a plane, on vacation, and anywhere else where you may not have Wi-Fi. Customers can download tens of thousands of Prime Instant Video titles to their new Kindle Fire HD or Kindle Fire HDX.

About Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video is a digital video streaming and download service that offers Amazon customers the ability to rent, purchase or subscribe to a huge catalog of videos. Customers can choose from more than 200,000 titles to purchase or rent--movies range from new releases to classic favorites, and Amazon Instant Video offers major television shows, entire seasons, or even day after air TV. Prime Instant Video is Amazon's video subscription offer--it includes tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes selected from the full assortment available at Amazon Instant Video.

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(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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The Amazon Fire Phone expands to UK and Germany - shipping dates

The Fire Phone is now expanding to the UK and Germany.

  UK page       Germany page

 This should go with yesterday's Fire Phone blog entry but it's already too large.

Bloomberg gives details under the headline "Deutsche Telekom, O2 Agree to Sell Amazon’s Fire Phone in Europe":
"Amazon will begin selling the devices on Sept. 30 in the two countries in deals with Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE), Germany’s largest carrier, and Telefonica SA (TEF)’s O2 brand in the U.K. Customers can pre-order the smartphones starting yesterday."
As seen on the product pages, they're available for pre-order there already.

The eteknix site reports that the phone has been updated and improved since its initial launch and that the "battery life has been improved upon as well and said to give around 10-15% more duration now.  The Amazon OS will get an update to its speech recognition software upon launch to handle the different British accents it’ll have to deal with now."

See yesterday's Fire Phone article for details on what's included with the phone.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Amazon's 3D Fire Phone now 99 cents with a 2 year data plan. A free year of (normally $99) Prime is included also. UPDATE1 for 64GB model price. UPDATE2 for AT&T Next 18 option

Amazon indicated today that the 3D Fire Phone is a key device for them and they've decided to be ultra competitive (the iPhone 6 is due to be announced tomorrow but it won't be a low-cost item nor have most of the features described below), and Apple is finally catching up to Android phones by making the larger phone so many have wanted but which Apple said was not the ideal size, until now. Those who rely on Apple apps should stay with Apple though!

FIRST, an UPDATE on November 2014, 2 months later than this article: - Amazon also made available the UNLOCKED version of the Fire Phone.  For details on the Unlocked phone, which can be used with any service (not tied to AT&T then) so that you can use the phone with better service plans for you, see the article on the updated offer.  This version, without a required data plan, is $199 but includes $99 Prime member for a year (or for an additional year for existing Prime members). [End of Update]

Below, I'm including most of the blog entry I made of the points made about the Fire Phone during their launch, with the original $199 cost now lower by $198, at 99 cents.

  And below that, I'll re-print the pertinent portions of their press release so you can read their new-pricing points, without interpretation.

  NOTE: Some reviews have said that the Fire Phone can't access Google Play for its apps.  However, as with the tablets, the phone has the regular Android Setting to enable installation of apps from "unknown sources" (meaning Non-Amazon store), I'm told (my review copy is late getting here), and that includes 1Mobile appstore, which has over 800,000 Android apps, most from Google, many from Amazon.  Get the apps from Amazon appstore when available there, as they go through heavy testing.

Here are added FIRE PHONE info-updates.

  Amazon still includes the Limited time offer that
offers a full year of Amazon Prime" (normal cost of Prime is $99)
  If you aren't a Prime member, you'll get a full year of Prime with Fire phone. If you already have Prime, we'll extend your membership for a full year."

UPDATE1 - 2:30 PM
  The Fire Phone starts now at $0.99 for 32GB and I received an answer to my question about the 64GB model this afternoon -- it'll be $99, down from $299, with a 2-year monthly data plan with AT&T.  That's for people who expect to store a lot on the phone, even with access to the Cloud storage.

  Essentially then, the phone with 32GB is is 99 cents with Prime also, thrown in (normally $99), with 2 yrs of a monthly data plan.
  And the 64GB model will be $99 (earlier it was $299).  The product pages are being updated.

UPDATE2 - 10:15 PM
Amazon's wording at the end of the Press Release mentions the cost of AT&T's "Next 18" plan (for those buying the phone and AT&T's new plan on a monthly basis and who plan to use only 2GB per month during a month):
' Fire is available exclusively on AT&T - the nation's most reliable 4G LTE network. Fire with 32GB is available for 99 cents with a two-year contract or $0 down and $18.75 per month (for 24 months) with AT&T NEXT 18. '
  The Nitty Gritty - Here is Amazon's Comparison Chart of actual costs for:
    the "Next 18" plan against the normal 2-year plan.
    BOTH require a 24-mo. plan.  However, after 18 mos. on the Next 18 plan,
      you're eligible to a free Update to a new smartphone, and the
    the activation fee is $0 vs the 2-yr plan's no free update plus $40 activation.
    It's a minor difference down the road.

  So, the normal 2-year plan saves almost $5 per month for 2 years, but there's no free update eligibility after 18 mos, and there's an activation charge.

  Phone-buying Reality -- As usual, even with $0 smartphones, one must pay the tax on the actual or normal cost of the phone, in this case $450 (even if paying just $0 or 99 cents for the phone).

The 3D-simulation on Amazon's product-page image is pretty impressive.  Am not placing it here, as eInk Kindle subscribers to the Kindle Edition of the blog can't view video. :-)  Thanks again to the subscribers for continued support of the blog.

Content described during launch is shown below

While the 3D aspects should be novel and fun for awhile, many were looking forward to a good plan but especially since it's been said to be exclusive to AT&T (which seemed a hint they may have worked out a good deal for customers and Amazon with AT&T to get that exclusive).

 The limited-time offer of 1 yr of free Prime made it a better deal than most even at the original pricing, and now the cost of a new, very high-tech smartphone with advanced features is only $1~, coming with a Bonus of free Prime ($99 value) for the first year as well, if you get a 2-year monthly data plan with AT&T.

In addition to the five total front cameras, the back camera uses optical character recognition that can capture and convert text (and will recognize many videos and songs by 'hearing' or 'seeing' them).

  Turns out that the Fire Phone can read an image to get, say, a phone number but, not only that, it can realize that a graphic element confused it and that the area code is not a valid one and then can fetch the information to correct it).

Prime apparently has "tens of millions" of subscribers -- and we know that Prime will be the big factor here, as we've seen with video and music features (along with Kindle book loans and 2-day free shipping) on millions of items.  As you saw in a previous blog entry here, the original 5,000 Kindle books in the Prime Library for free lending of one-book per calendar month has grown to over 500,000.

Opening PR at the launch reminded us that Foresee and YouGov branding charts both list Amazon as No. 1 in customer service.

The Fire Phone with FIREFLY scanning
Claims on slides shown, for the most part:  (I'll double space these after editing, and also highlight a few aspects that were more interesting to me, for easier reading.)
. Rubberized frame, Gorilla Glass, aluminum buttons.

. Premium materials, scratch resistant

. 4.7" inch IPS LCD HD display

. Quad core 2.2 Ghz processor, Adreno 330 graphics processor, and 2 GB of RAM.

. Designed to be "Beautiful, comfortable, durable"

. Injection-molded steel connectors

. Focus on making it Better than usual for outdoor viewing

. Great imaging hardware
      with 13 MP rear-facing camera, f/2 5-element lens, optical image stabilization

. "Don't miss the shot" -- instant fast access to camera from a button.

. Free Unlimited Photo Storage

. Dual stereo speakers (Stereo audio in Landscape), Virtual surround sound, Dolby Digital Plus

. Free Mayday Help/Support feature -- (video support by customer reps and AT&T reps within 15 seconds when you need help) is included.  You see the rep, who does not see you but you can hear each other, and the reps can not only show you how to do something, they can do it for you.)

. You can watch material on HDTV, 2nd screen, Miracast, plus Xray for movies and tv

. Flat cables, earphones included

. Netflix, HBO Go, ESPN, Youtube, and Showtime apps are included and ready to go.

. includes of course the new Prime Music feature (free for members) -
      over 1 million songs with unlimited free streaming.

. More than a few Music apps and services

. "Semantic Boosting" helps to get the phone number right by eliminating invalid numbers.

. Firefly scanning feature "scrapes" the image for relevant info [via optical character recognition], compressing a large image file to a smaller one with only small bits of info.  That helps the phone send the info to its cloud service to process the image and get appropriate info or answers quickly.

. Reminder about the X-ray feature, now using Firefly also.  As with tablets, if it recognizes the show, it pulls up info on the actors, specific episode, and scene via Amazon's IMDB database.  I expect this works with Amazon Prime but not with Netflix and Hulu Plus etc., as they control the stream with Prime video.

    HOWEVER, the Firefly scanning feature has had a lot of training by Amazon and itself can "recognize" movies, TV episodes, music, and get info for X-Ray.  I've added Amazon's description of Firefly functions at the bottom of this post, as it is a very impressive feature, activated by the press of a physical button on the phone.

. Firefly recognizes a hundred million different items in real-world situations.

. The image changes as you move your phone (or head) and perspective.

. A MAP application was shown next, in 3D

. They zoomed into the Empire State Building image, and it's said this looks a lot better than previous attempts at 3D on similar devices

. Various web sites are very impressed with the 3D implementation.  Most writers I read had been skeptical about it based on previous attempts by other companies.

. In the web browsing -- "auto scroll" - you can scroll by tilting the phone (I'm not sure I'd want that, but they pointed out that can be turned off when wanted, which is what I would do.)

. You can pin other apps to the app grid.  They have the Carousel with latest apps accessed at the top.

. Get in and out of apps with widgets (shown on slide) without having to load up a full app

. Music app.  As with the tablets, we can see the lyrics synchronized (highlighting current line) with songs for which they received the rights for that.
      Song info is in one panel - lyrics in a panel to the right.

. Games: You can tilt the phone to look at different perspectives in a game.

. "Dynamic Perspective" - They started working on this 4 years ago and had prototypes working in the first week.

. The phone has a wider range of view for the front camera to cover the area needed for tracking head movement and whatever else needed to make the 3D simulation work well.

. At least two of the Fire Phone's four corner cameras and center camera can find your eyes, creating stereovision.

. To have it work in the dark, they added infrared lights, one in each camera.

. Dynamic Perspective sensor system -- "uses four ultra-low power specialized cameras -- the smallest globally shuttered cameras in existence -- plus four infrared LEDs for invisible illumination, real-time computer vision algorithms, and a custom graphics engine rendering at 60 fps" [frames per second]."

. They used "millions of images from thousands of faces from all around the world" while testing this.

. While trying to find the user's head and eyes for perspective-use, the cameras -could- during development be fooled by another head that happened to be in the picture (as in an image on a t-shirt).  They say they fixed the usual problems with seeing multiple-faces in that case.

. Developers can develop 3D apps for viewing homes while shopping, etc.

. You can silence your ringer for 3 hours.  After that, it turns back on.
      This would help me since I forget to turn it back on and then can't use a landline to call my cellphone to find out where it is :-)

. Price: Now 99 cents for 32GB phone (to be $99 for a 64GB model), with a 2 year monthly data plan, and this includes a limited-time offer of a free one-year Prime membership, w/ 2 yr contract and same Prime deal.

Addendum: More about Firefly and what it does (from product page)
  You just press the physical button on the side of the Fire Phone to "take action on"
' Phone numbers, web, and email addresses
Firefly identifies printed text on posters, magazines, and business cards -- make calls, save new contacts, send emails, and visit websites without typing long addresses.

Movies & TV
Firefly recognizes over 240,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels.  Firefly uses X-Ray, powered by IMDb, to show information on actors, plot details, and related content -- add titles to your Watchlist or download to watch later.

Firefly recognizes songs so you can access artist information, play related songs, download albums direct to your Fire phone, or add them to your Wish List to purchase later on.  With Firefly-enabled apps like iHeartRadio and StubHub, you can create radio stations based on an identified artist, or even find tickets for their next show.

Over 70 million products
Recognize household items, books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and more.  Access product details, add items to your Wish List, or order on Amazon straight from your Fire phone. '

Amazon's 3D FIRE PHONE at 99 cents with a 2-year plan is available here

From today's press release
Title: Amazon Fire Phone Now 99 Cents with Two-Year Contract

Date(s): 8-Sep-2014 11:11 AM
Plus, one year of Prime membership included
Free unlimited cloud storage for photos
World-class customer support with Mayday--24x7, 365 days a year
32GB Storage--Standard
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sep. 8, 2014-- (NASDAQ: AMZN)--Dynamic Perspective, Firefly, world-class customer support with Mayday, free unlimited cloud storage for photos, 32GB of storage--and, for a limited time, customers get 12 months of Prime membership with Fire phone, which includes unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes from Prime Instant Video, access to over a million songs to download or stream from Prime Music, over 500,000 books to borrow from Kindle Owners' Lending Library and free two-day shipping on tens of millions of items. Now there's another great reason to buy Fire--it's just 99 cents with a two-year contract. Customers can purchase Fire on [and at AT&T stores nation wide].
"Fire is now 99 cents with a two-year contract, plus customers get one full year of Prime included," said Ian Freed, Vice President, Amazon Devices. "With access to all of the Prime content, Mayday, 32GB of memory and free unlimited cloud storage for photos, plus the exclusive Dynamic Perspective and Firefly features, Fire is another example of the value Amazon delivers to customers."
See what Amazon Fire customers are saying:
  • "The best part of the phone is the integration with Prime - I've switched all of my iTunes music over to Amazon Music and have bought a few albums from my phone. The sound from the included headphones is amazing. I've watched some movies and read some books - all synced to my Kindle Fire HDX and the movies with my Fire TV."
  • "Mayday: I feel this truly separates this phone from every other phone in the market. It's like having someone available 24x7 to help you out with your phone...and, there is no charge for that 'ever.'"
  • "Love it, better than the iPhone I had, Better pictures and better screen...My wife is switching from her iPhone 5 to Fire since she has checked out my FIRE."
  • "I've had three Kindle Fire tablets, and this Fire phone hooks seamlessly to their ecosystem of books and videos, which I use heavily in my professional work so that's important to me."
  • "The Firefly feature is fun, and the camera takes fabulous pictures and videos."
  • "If you're an Amazon Prime user, it can't get better than this. The support for the Amazon ecosystem is amazing."
Fire is the only smartphone with Dynamic Perspective and Firefly, two breakthrough technologies that allow you to see and interact with the world through a whole new lens. Fire features an advanced, 13MP rear-facing camera with backside illumination, LED flash, 5-element f/2.0 lens, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), and high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities for beautiful, crisp photos, even in low-light conditions. Fire also includes a 2.1MP front-facing camera, and photos taken with Fire receive free, unlimited cloud storage.
Additionally, the Amazon Appstore has seen tremendous growth with the rate of app submissions to the Appstore more than doubling in the weeks following the Fire phone launch in the U.S. Recent additions include: Fly Delta, Bank of America, MLB.com At Bat, Tetris Blitz, Uno With Friends, Venmo, and World Series of Poker as well as the tens of thousands of others already available for Fire - FacebookFacebook Messenger, Flixster, Instagram, Pandora, PinterestSpotify, StubHub, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Customers are also enjoying the use of Dynamic Perspective within apps and games--3 of the top 7 downloaded apps and games, incorporate features of Dynamic Perspective.
In the U.S., Fire is available exclusively on AT&T  - the nation's most reliable 4G LTE network. Fire with 32GB is available for  99 cents with a two-year contract or $0 down and $18.75 per month (for 24 months) with AT&T NEXT 18.
[ End of the press release segment ]

Note you can also buy it from AT&T at one of their stores.  But when buying a device, many prefer to buy from Amazon.

Again, in addition to the 32GB model at 99 cents with a 2-year data plan with AT&T, Amazon is pricing the 64GB model at $99 ($200 off the opening price in July), although the product page isn't updated for that yet.

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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(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Free and low-cost Kindle books: Search-link options for September for contemporary, non-classics + less-known bargain pages + Kindle discount-alerts by customers + Kindle Unlimited Audible w/ Whispersync

September 4, 2014
- This includes a quick reminder that the free Kindle book search options in the reference section (right-column of blog) are updated for September.

Regular readers of the blog are aware of the following links, but I repost them (and often add new ones) each month, for those who are new to the blog or are looking for a refresher on what's available.

These include some less-known links for avid bargain Kindle book hunters

    August 2014  September 2014.
    Also, all currently free non-classics sorted by:
    Publication Date   Bestselling    High ratings

  There are only a few shown on the first few days of any month, and these include pre-orders due that month -- most of these are listed as "free preview" of whatever chapters chosen, some are short stories, and a few (overnight) not-entire-family-safe titles may show up. Since this is Sept. 4, the listing will include more already available, full books

    Highly rated, under $1

    In addition, Amazon still quietly carries: "Mostly 99c Kindle Books" page, which is a different Amazon listing from the one for highly rated Kindle books under $1.

    Amazon Top 100   (Also, UK-only)

    Amazon's own Limited Time Free Promos.

Two ongoing pages you may want to bookmark
1. Free Kindle Non-Classics - includes the above bargain links among other ones
  This has an "Often Asked" section which has a lot of good info in it. Updated 7/2/14, 2:50pm

Also for newcomers to the Kindle or to this blog, here are the special monthly book deals for September 2014 -- where to find them, etc.

SEPTEMBER 2014's monthly Kindle Books deal, for $3.99 or less (See UK listing here.)

For those who want to quickly look first at only the ones that are star-rated at 4 or above, here is Amazon's page for exactly that.

  On the main monthly Kindle book deals page, separate categories are highlighted, using Amazon's usual horizontally-scrolling pick-lists, for the following topics highlighted on the main page. They link to "See all" at the bottom of each horizontally-scrolled category row [ I'm adding direct links to the full category listings ]:

  1. History and by Avg Customer Rating
  2. Science Fiction & Fantasy and by Avg Customer Rating
  3. Biography and Memoirs and by Avg Customer Rating
  4. Literary Fiction Deals and by Avg Customer Rating
  5. Religion and Spirituality and by Avg Customer Rating
  7. Whispersync for Voice and by Avg Customer Rating     Newer
        The Whispersync category has sometimes shown up with an explanation that the
        corresponding audio book is also sold at the monthly-deal price, if wanted.
  ' Now you can seamlessly switch between reading featured Kindle books and listening to them without ever losing your place...
  First, purchase the Kindle book for $3.99 or less. Then add the narration from Audible for $3.99 or less to enable the feature. '
  But the Whispersync category is no longer on the main Monthly Deals page, although the deals still exist (there are about 44 of these Whispersync-ready books in this month's deals, down from 74 for August's specials).  They ARE included in the overall scrolled monthly deals that can be sorted by several options at the bottom of that main page.

Note that the new Kindle Unlimited subscription program includes many of these as part of Kindle Unlimited so that there's no added charge for the Audible book.

The main monthly deals page also tends to show, on the right, two vertically-scrolling categories:
  1. A list of Bestsellers
  2. Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense highlighted + more in the linked full list w/ sorting options)
      Here's that fuller listing by Avg Customer Rating

THEN, at the bottom of the new main monthly Kindle book-deals page, they offer the FULL current monthly listing, defaulting to sorting by "New and Popular" and there are 101 in all, currently, but the number may vary.  It was 125 in August.

  Here's a direct link to that Full-listing (US), sorted by "New and Popular" for the month, so
    it's a good one to bookmark if you just want to jump to that) and
    you can choose another sort option for this full listing, such as
        Avg Customer Rating or by Price: Low to High

These options should make it easier to find books of interest to you.

The pricing for August's group of Kindle books ranges from $0.99 to $3.99, as is usual for this monthly deal.

  The Kindle books you'll see on this special monthly-deals page  (UK version here) are new for August.

(US Link: amzn.to/mkbooks-1to4,  UK Link: amzn.to/100kbooks-1to4uk)

The ongoing Kindle Daily Deals page
for any given day usually shows a lot of books since it includes children's books, a couple of genre-specific deals, and the monthly daily deals as well.

DISCOUNTED / Price Dropped Kindle eBooks III - the ongoing Kindle Forum message thread
  This is an ongoing message thread in which Kindle owners share information on recent drops in pricing on specific Kindle books, often with some added info by the person posting it.

  Here's a link to the thread, which includes many books with huge price drops.  I'm starting at an August 28 posting that includes books that are still on sale today, Sept. 4 (some are highly rated). The first posting is on "Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine" which is $19.99 in print but $1.99 on Kindle at the current time.

  The books discussed in this forum thread tend to be very short-term discounts.

  That forum topic link is to a specific post to start, in this case, a book alert on Sept. 4, as mentioned.  You can browse previous posts or days, or keep up with ongoing alerts after that, because Amazon keeps track of the last message# that you read, so that you can start from there next time.
 While many of the better deals seem around $1.99-$4.99, there usually are a decent number of larger-publishing house deals included (primarily price-matching) that tend to end in a DAY, so you'd need to double-check the current pricing of ANY Kindle books that interest you to see if the discounts are still active.

  Again, Kindle book prices are discounted for only a very short time, too often, and are promos, and that's another reason to watch the list.  Most of the large-publisher discounts last only one or two days even when they originate the discount.

DISCOUNTS ON ACCESSORIES Amazon's current pages (some, ongoing) on accessories for Kindle e-Reader and Kindle Fire
  1. Up to 50% (higher discount than usual) on cases for Kindle eReaders
  2. Up to 50% on cases for Kindle Fire (Gen 2) and Kindle Fire HD tablets but NOT HDX tablets
  3. Accessories for all Kindles, with some discounted.

For larger discounts, there are the Goldbox and Lightning Deals which sometimes include bigger one-day sales.

Newish Kindle Outlet Store
In the meantime, Amazon recently put together a Kindle Outlet Store to feature their certified refurbished Kindle devices, at up to 25% off.

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.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

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