Saturday, November 15, 2014

Software Update v5.6.1 for Kindle Paperwhite2, Kindle Voyage, and $79 e-Ink Kindle (Gen 7). US and UK -- Tips and detailed info

Amazon has released a software update for their current line of e-Ink Kindles.  

The free update will be rolled out automatically in the coming weeks, and those who prefer to manually download the update can do that, as before.

At the left is a screenshot of the expanded X-Ray for Books feature.

I received confirmation that Amazon's "goal is to make this update available for the first gen Kindle Paperwhite" (Paperwhite 1) as well. 

  (Updates for older generation devices tend to follow a few months later.)
New features include [quoting their forum announcement and press release]:
·         Word WiseFor readers learning English and children learning to read, Word Wise makes it easier to understand more challenging books more quickly. Short and simple definitions automatically appear above difficult words, so you can keep reading without having to stop and look up a word. To see the various meanings the same word can have in different contexts, just tap on the word to quickly bring up a card with definitions, synonyms, and more. You can adjust the number of definitions you see with a slider, dialing them up or down as you learn and grow your vocabulary. Word Wise is already available on thousands of titles, including The Hunger GamesThe Giver, and Wonder. See a screenshot:
  [A sample is show below.]
·         Family Library—For the first time, you can access not only your own Kindle books, but also books from the Amazon account of a spouse or partner. See a screenshot:

·         Kindle FreeTime Unlimited—For as little as $2.99 per month, kids get unlimited access to hundreds of hand-picked chapter books and early readers, all curated for age-appropriateness, so parents don’t have to spend time and money guessing what their kids will enjoy. Includes favorites such as the Harry Potter series, The Borrowers by Mary Norton, Big Nate and Friends by Lincoln Peirce, and Newberry Medal and Honor winning books such as The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

·         Expanded X-Ray for Books—X-Ray now makes it easier to explore as you read—quickly flip through all the images in a book, and use the new timeline view to easily browse the most notable passages. See a screenshot: [and above].

·         Deeper Goodreads Integration—Goodreads on Kindle now allows you to easily share your reading progress updates, add books from your Kindle library to your Goodreads shelves, and see your friends’ updates, ratings and reviews when looking at a book on Goodreads. See a screenshot:
·          Enhanced Search—Makes it even easier to find what you are looking for by combining and previewing results from your Library, Goodreads and the Kindle Store on the same page. See a screenshot:  
·         About This Book—See information about the book as you start to read, including its place in a series and author information, plus mark it as “Currently Reading” on Goodreads. See a screenshot:

This is a screenshot of Wordwise

To Manually download updates if not wanting to wait for automated over-the-air updates:

Here is the umbrella Kindle Software Updates page that covers ALL current Kindle devices (U.S.)
  Here's the equivalent UK page for Kindle software updates.

Again, the free update will be rolled out automatically in the coming weeks.

New Kindle Software Update Version (The version no. will be the same for the UK models)
All 3 models are getting the v5.6.1 software update.

Kindle Basic (7th Gen):
  NOTE: I've made a specific page link here, because Amazon's software updates page isn't clear in the left column about which "Kindle software update" is for the current basic Kindle (Gen 7).  The other models are clearly shown at the left of the umbrella page for updates.

  If you scroll down the general updates page, viewing the images of the models in the body of the page, it's easier to see which device-link to click for your software update file.

  Remember, the update is *automatically* sent to Kindles over an interval of a few weeks and it will be easier for most to wait and get it that way, fully automated.

HOW to do a manual USB transfer and install of a Kindle software update
Here's Amazon's general page of instructions for USB transfer and installation of updates to a Kindle device.
 Each update page for a specific device has a Determine Your Software Version link that needs to be used before trying to transfer a file for installation

Tips and Reminders
How does Family Library work?
Amazon has a very clear write-up on this book-sharing feature. It starts:
' Use Family Library to share content between two adults in your household.

Family Library lets you link your Amazon account to that of another adult in your household so you can easily share Kindle books across your Amazon devices and Kindle reading apps. Each adult chooses what they want to share: they can share all of their Kindle books, or, they can choose to only share individual titles.

Once you’ve set up Family Library, shared content will appear in the Cloud tab of each of your supported devices, which you can filter (for example, See My Books, See My Partner's Books, See All Books, etc.). When accessing shared content, each adult has their own settings for that content, such as furthest page read, notes and annotations, and more. '

    See the About Family Library help page for much more detail.

A Reminder about how syncing of your reading between devices and apps is done
In order for this to work reliably, the changes to your last page read and any new annotations done (highlighting, notes and bookmarks) must be 'seen' by the servers at Amazon -- this means that your WiFi or 3G wireless connection would need to be 'on' at the time you close the book by tapping the Home icon.
   Once the Amazon servers note the changes, they'll be available to the next Kindle-compatible reader or app you open (with Wireless on that device turned On also).
  You can turn 'off' the WiFi or 3G Wireless connection after leaving the Kindle book reading, which will help maximize battery use on that device.)

  When an eInk screen is displaying a page but there is no change to that screen, the display is having no effect on the battery.
  When you change what's being displayed (changing or adding anything on the page, as in tapping it on the side to get a new page or when an action brings a pop-up window or dialog box), the display IS using the battery.  That's why just pressing the power button for only ~1 second puts the Kindle to 'sleep' during which it displays an image, which doesn't use the battery, but the Paperwhite light turns off.

  Leaving it in this sleep state doesn't draw battery power as a result of the image display itself.  If, however, WiFi is On during Sleep state, any activity with subscription downloads or a Special Offers download -will- use battery power.

  There is always very slow battery drain in between charges even when a device is turned off.

  So, the "Screen Off" is a relatively new choice on mine.  This just blanks the screen and puts it into sleep state.  SOME have requested a blank screen so they know it's "Off" but, in this case, it's only that there's no image seen - not even Amazon's default images during normal sleep-screens.

Mentioned previously also:
  "Restart" acts more like a soft-reboot on a computer and clears up memory states that may be causing problems.

(Using the Paperwhite as an example)
  There is no option on my Paperwhite to completely Power Off or Shut down the Kindle.  My options are to (1) Cancel a longer key-press action, (2) Restart the Paperwhite (mine is a Paperwhite 1), or (3) choose "Screen Off." On other devices, some will see an option to "Power Off" or "Shut Down" the Kindle.

  Also, holding in the power button for over 20 seconds (rather than 5 seconds) does still cause a Restart (and a clearing of current memory use), as in the past.

IF you experience unusual battery drain
Note that keeping your Kindle always connected to a Wi-Fi network can drain the battery faster under certain circumstances.  If you're experiencing that, then once you've got the update "over the air," put the Paperwhite back to "Airplane Mode ON" via the 'Settings' option on the Menu -- the option lets you toggle Wireless OFF, using the "Airplane On" choice.

  Amazon's Paperwhite development team hasn't returned the Wireless Off/On choice to the front menu as they did one year for the Kindle Touch when they removed the 'airplane mode' icon that confuses many.  It's inconvenient to have the WiFi On/Off setting on a secondary menu and many, as a result, don't even know that they can actually turn WiFi Off if needed to conserve battery power.

  Amazon may prefer that we keep Wireless 'On' due to delivery of Special Offers but a battery-drain problem can occur when circumstances involve (1) subscriptions that are downloaded regularly (my New York Times Latest News subscription updates the Kindle edition about five times a day - $1.99/month)) or (2) due to a weaker connection that results from the distance from the WiFi router, in which case the device keeps trying to connect when a download is due (and that can be for the special offers that Amazon regularly needs to send for those who choose to opt for the less-expensive model with the special-offers feature) and is then often active.

  On the other hand as mentioned earlier, WiFi needs to be 'On' after you've read a book and made annotations for a session AND when you then want to be able to continue reading later, on another device (like a smartphone), starting at where you'd stopped.
  If WiFi isn't turned on, the Amazon servers won't have any way of knowing the last-page-read location nor any notes or highlighting you've made, which you'd want to be able to access on the other device.  So, a reminder on my usual recommendation:
1. When you're finished reading, tap the top-toolbar and press the HOME icon.
  On most e-Ink devices, this will 'close' the book session and record the last page read and log the annotations.
2. Tap the top of the eReader to bring up the toolbar and menu icon.
3. If you see an airplane icon at the top, your WiFi is Off (and you're in "airplane" take-off mode).
4. Tap 'Settings'
5. Turn Airplane Mode OFF, and that'll turn WiFi ON.
6. At that point, the Kindle will try to sync your changes to the Server and will download anything that is pending (a subscription to a newspaper, magazine, or blog, usually).
7. After that's done, you can go ahead and leave WiFi ON if you have no problems with faster battery drain
      OR you can turn OFF the WiFi if you need to save battery power.

Again, and only if you'd rather not wait -- DOWNLOADING and transferring the Update via USB
US:  Go to the Kindle Software Update page (or to the UK page to get the instructions for the download for your specific Kindle eReader and to transfer the appropriate update file to your Kindle via USB:

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. It seems unlikely at this point that the PW1 will see a similar update, though Amazon has surprised us in the past. Mostly I would be looking for better Goodreads integration and improved xray, and Family Library.

    Be that as it may, Fire OS 4.5.1 update is now available for all Fire 3rd and 4th generation tablets. It's lovely to see this level of support for year old tablets, for a change. It must simplify customer support considerably as well as there aren't all these feature deviations to deal with.

    But they have introduced Yet Another implementation of collection management, and it is still inferior to the iOS, Android, and Kindle implementations. Manual sort only, cover view only, you cannot remove and add to collection (move an item to from one collection to another) in one operation as you used to be able to do. And they have completely borked Screen Reader (Accessibility): I'm unable to open the reading app when that is turned on. A very serious lapse in testing!

    1. Tom, I specifically asked Amazon about a later similar update with these features for the PW1 and I used the wording I received - they do plan to do it..
      Yes, am on the Kindle Forum thread. I'd received v4.1.1 on Nov. 13 but my Kindle Fire HDX 8.9" tablet 2013's update setting said, as of this morning still, that there is no update to that and that I'm up to date, EVEN THOUGH yesterday's product page for that model said the version for it is v4.11 BUT had -- in the description -- that those with older software must do some things before going to 'v4.5.1.'

      So that must have been either copy/paste error or they planned to go to v4.5.1 on that model, which is more capable than the Kindle Fire HDX 7" 2013&2014 that did get v4.5.1 from the beginning of this update. BUT also, the file for my tablet had a title that included "...4.5.1" on it. Very confusing.

      TODAY, the product page for that 8.9" Kindle Fire HDX 2013 now says the version is v4.5.1, a deliberate change after seeing that their info on that page was conflicting.

      YET, my model (that did get the v4.1.1) sees itself as fully updated, even when I check for updates today. Someone with the same model yesterday did get the v4.5.1 over the air.

      The implementation of Collections is actually inferior to the prior Kindle Fire tablet OS because, before, we could REMOVE an app from more than one collection at a time, and at the current time with the latest software versions (4.11 and 4.5.1) we can't.
      I CAN add a book to multiple collections with the v4.1.1. update that I received.

      I can sort by recent, title, or Recent by clicking on the options, with v4.1.1

      This particular Fire OS update for older Kindle Fire tablets is a great idea but it seems to have been rushed. Some are having probs with it while a few aren't, on that forum thread.

      Screen Reader. Yes, when 'On' it just tells you what 'exit' or 'books' is, with voice, but doesn't do actions, unless you DOUBLE tap fast, after selecting an option and then it doesn'st work with certain buttons. AND didn't with 'Settings' swipe to turn it off. That's because of a new way to do it.

      I was able to select and double tap to finally get from Help the Mayday feature, and an incredibly knowledgeable Mayday person (up on all facets of this update) told me that we have to use two fingers on the MIDDLE area of the Quick Settings top menu and get Settings scrolling down only from that area. We discussed all the probs. She said that while the book app double taps don't seem to always work, it's easier to turn off ScreenReader and just use the text to speech, available much of the time. Knew all about the various probs being reported but not that the 8.9" Kindle Fire tablet was RESET on the product page today to v4.5.1,

      Also said that the tablet's UPDATE function under Settings, including Check for Updates is "rolled out" because it's an over the air feature and that even if there is a v4.5.1 available my tablet has not been in the batch to get that yet but that I can manually download the file. Told her that I wasn't going to do that because many are having probs with apps crashing, and mine is fine except reduced sound-volume, which they know about now.

      She was amazing. This is the best of customer support. I was really impressed. It was 'Cuba' who helped me.

    2. Tom, In my reply above, I meant to say that with v4.1.1 on my 2013 HDX 8.9" tablet, I can add books to multiple collections and that I can sort them by recent, title, or author ...

    3. Yes, they fixed one problem with collections (you could not tell if an item was On Device or not). Turns out that I was wrong about how bad it is, and maybe it is even better than before in some ways now:
      - You can now select multiple items from carousel or a list (don't remember if you could select more than one item before). Then you are presented with Add, Remove, and More.
      - Add lets you choose 'To Collection' or 'To Home'. If you pick To Collection, you can pick one or more Collections to add the selected item(s) to. The items will be removed from any collections that are not picked, if they happened to be in one of those before. So Add To Collection is implicitly 'Remove from all non selected collections'. So you can in fact move something in one step. You just don't know what you are moving it from. A little confusing but at least it is functional.
      - Remove lets you Remove from Device, and if this is the carousel, Remove From Carousel is also an option.
      - More lets you Create a new Collection and add the item(s) to it.

      So, okay: it works just fine, once you get used to it. I just miss being able to use list view and sort inside a collection.

      As far as the Accessibility issue goes, yes, a sighted person does not need Explore By Touch and 'it is easier to use text to speech'. But Explore By Touch it is not just about reading out text, it is about being able to navigate by touch. And that's what is broken (if you want to read anything). You can have Screen Reader on and Explore By Touch off, but I'm not sure what class of people would find that useful, maybe people who can see well enough to locate objects on the screen, but not well enough to read text. In that mode, text is read out as soon as it opens a book. Note that Screen Reader works even with books which block TTS.

    4. So odd. Talking about the Fire tablets tangentially, we can multi-select carousel items but what we can do is more limited that way. We can add to collections but there are no checkboxes although we can choose more than one collection to add it to.

      The checkbox list method when you add a book to a Collection from the Books feature will show checkboxes and also show you what collection already has it (checked). The latter is good because you can uncheck boxes to remove it from collections that way (undoable from Carousel which doesn't show you checkboxes). I wouldn't work from the Carousel.

      Yes, re Text to Speech, which is why I said "available much of the time" -- wish the publishers would be less rigid about it. Isn't it painful enough to deal with a robotic voice? They should have more faith in the value of a professional (logical sounding) reading. On the old e-Ink Kindles I loved that the voice did read the newspapers while I was doing other things though.

    5. I updated my Fire HD (2013) over the weekend, to 'Fire OS 4.1.1'. It appears to add most of the features on my Fire HD6 (Fire OS 4.1.4) AFAICT, except lock screen features that came only recently to HD6 with a minor update (controls for audio playback, more efficient pin code entry that unlocks after the last digit is entered rather than requiring additional tap on OK/GO). Screen Reader works fine with it, BTW. I'm encouraging my wife to use it, now that our accounts are linked w/Family Library, as it would otherwise not get used.

      Family Library does not pool Music, Videos, or Newstand, just books/audiobooks/apps. So I can't see the AutoRip music for CD's she purchased and vice versa. Also, though our accounts have always been linked for free Prime shipping, my account is the only one that gets the extended benefits (prime video, music, ebooks). It would be more logical and 'nice of them' if they'd give both accounts the extended benefits.

      Family library accounts apply on all devices that support that. So for example, I cannot have one Fire set up just for me, and another for Family Library (unless I'm missing something).

      On the HD6, I have been playing with the 'Screen Reader ON, Explore By Touch OFF' variant. That works, for the most part. It (usually) starts reading out the book as soon as it is opened, and just briefly announces new context(s) as you navigate to them ('Home.' 'Books.'). Then you can toggle TTS 'normally.' In the past, turning on Screen Reader works even when TTS is disabled by publisher (and provides TTS like functionality on iOS w/VoiceOver and Android w/TalkBack). I haven't verified it still reads TTS disabled books with the new Fire software (have to find a TTS disabled book first...).

      I don't find TTS 'painful' at all, and use it frequently (though probably well under 10% of the time). I enjoy professional narration as well, but only when it doesn't cost much, and for especially worthy performances. I probably do at least half of my reading via audiobook, and it is nice to have text as well (for annotation or future reference), so that's a scenario where I'm listening most of the time and reading only part time. I have not encountered much TTS blocking, at least with the books I choose to purchase. And with the Screen Reader workaround, it doesn't really influence my purchase decisions very much.

      Hope you are right that there's an impending update for PW1. Although maybe not so much if it makes it run slower...

      My Fire Stick delivery is Dec 9. I'm starting to wish I'd tried for an Echo invite. I think my wife would like it.

  2. So I'm wrong (again!). You cannot add and delete in one operation. Effectively there is no way to see which collections an item is in other than opening each one and looking for it. Bad.

    But to the good, you can switch Books to List View mode. Just no list mode inside collections.

    1. Tom, I had v4.1.1 for my 8.9" Kindle Fire 2013 and Collections were fine on that. However, they decided to give this older tablet v4.5.1 (as they did with the HDX 7" still sold as 'current' 7" model) and now Collections are as you describe -- lost the ability to multi-check collections for adding/removing and cannot see if a collection already has the book I've selected. In other words, it's now at least temporarily useless. We are hoping this just must be a bug. Also, the dictionary is missing (both Oxford ones). All reported. It'd be good if you joined the Kindle Forum thread on the HDX 7" and v4.1.1 - many of us are sharing info there. Very useful to see the differences. Updates are being done while keeping the version # the same. Super-fine-maintenance updates, apparently.

      How is your dictionary working on your HD 6? I think current all-new models must be ok on this v4.5.1 but I see that Collections has the same problem (which I can't fathom being intentional but if it's that way with the new HD6 it well may be intended, but I sure hope not).

      Thanks for that info on Screen Reader ! Very interesting.

      TTS not pausing between paragraphs can get to me -- and of course not pausing between chapters. The run-on continued as of last year. Have not tried it since. The undifferentiated accenting of words can make me work hard to try to understand. But I like text-to-speech for news reading. Just not for novels.

  3. Well, I finally managed to find a book with TTS disabled ('The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest'). Confirmed that TTS was disabled, turned on Accessibility (w Explore By Touch disabled, just for kicks, since the current HD6 software has a problem with EBT turned on), opened the book and it started reading. There's no play/pause control, so with EBT disabled you have to do something else to pause (like open Xray, or select a word) and then to start reading again just open and close reading menu bar. Simpler and less 'chatty' than with EBT enabled. Again, though, I encounter very few TTS-disabled books, so this is almost never necessary.

    But it is nice to know of the workaround, and on iOS and Android, Accessibility is a way to get a TTS like functionality.

    I did look at the discussion forum. What chaos. I expect 4.5.1 will break Accessibility on my Fire HD 2013 like it is on Fire HD6. I reported it last week on the support web site but (uncharacteristically) did not get any response. They must be swamped.

    1. Tom, thanks for sharing that tip -- will work that into a blog entry, quoting you.

      "support web site" -- is that the 'Contact us' feature using email rather than phone?

      I found out today that phone support, which used to be a 1 second response-time thing :-) is now a list of things you might like to know first, which I hate waiting through but I imagine it's cost-effective for the types of calls they generally get.

      Mayday becomes ever more attractive. But the help on the other end, once reached (by phone) was very good.

      My newspaper and magazine subscriptions carry an option to "keep" the issue (past its 7-issue expiration time on Amazon servers, after which they normally delete older copies on our devices so our storage doesn't fill up with old issues. The 'Keep' option is nice.
      Those issues would work only on the same device, however (DRM). So, since my newspaper also comes to my tablet, I wanted to save a certain issue in the color version and be able to read it on the tablet later on (no 'keep' option for tablets). BUT, I can't find, using ES Explorer, what file folders the newspapers or magazines are stored in so that I can move an issue to personal docs. Have you ever run into where they're kept?

      Back to Fire OS and update features: the new Family Library sharing plan is very nice, and the profiles too (though they don't affect me). Backfitting those to the older tablets in ways that suit the older tablet structures or slightly different hardware was a nice idea and ambitious. Firefly, when it arrives, should be fun. But it obviously has not been an easy process. They have so many models and versions of models, with device names that confuse many of us, I wonder if they confuse any of the staff assigning the files for each. And Thanksgiving is upon the team too. Can't be easy.


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