New updates bring Audible to basic Kindle and new customization options

Today’s announcement of the all-new Kindle Oasis included big news on the integration of Audible audiobooks into the device.  Audible integration will roll out as an update when the new Oasis device ships on October 31, 2017.

Also included in the announcement was the news that the basic, entry-level Kindle (current generation 8), along with the first generation Oasis,  will also be getting Audible integration over the coming months. This may be a feature that makes the basic Kindle (which does not have a backlight) more desirable as a device for prospective owners. As noted in this post on The eBook Reader, at least according to its reviews,  the basic, entry level kindle is not well liked.

Today’s announcement also included news of new firmware updates that would add new settings for reading customization, including new font sizes, bolding options and new margin options including an option for left-aligned  /ragged right text..

The new features are:

  • New Font Size and Bold Settings: Now choose from more font sizes than ever before–and five levels of boldness–for whichever font you choose to read with. Combined with the new, 7-inch Paperwhite display, you can personalize your books so it’s perfectly comfortable for your eyes.
  • New Accessibility Options: In addition to the OpenDyslexic font, we’ve added a feature to invert black and white on the display if you have light sensitivity. The new enlarged display option also lets you increase the size of items like the text on the home screen and library as well as the book icons to make the all-new Kindle Oasis easier to read.
  • Light Settings: Built-in ambient light sensors automatically adjust the display to your surroundings whether you’re in a dimly-lit room or outside in the sun–and can be fine-tuned even further based on personal preferences.
  • Ragged Right Alignment: You can now read using left-aligned (ragged right) text.

To me, one of the most intriguing of the new features is the ability to invert black-and-white on the display for those with light sensitivity. This is generally a feature found on apps and tablets, not e-ink readers (although there is supposedly a hack for the Kobo line here.). My old Literarti e-reader had this feature, and I can tell you, being able to read white text on a black screen in a dark room Is a great feature for reading in the middle of the night without disturbing your partner! 🙂

The new firmware features will be delivered as a free over the air update to the Kindle Paperwhite and newer devices starting today.

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Freetime update causes problems for children’s Fire tablets

freetimeFurther information has surfaced in the Amazon forums on the latest issue with Fire tablets de-registering themselves. Earlier today, I noted that this seemed to be affecting Fire tablets with Freetime installed. According to the latest messages on an Amazon forum thread, that Freetime update is the root cause of the issue.

According to a poster on one thread:

Just got off the phone, received confirmation that ALL content and progress is lost. It sounds like it is something to do with the update to FreeTime, and that update accidentally de-registered the kindles.

Others report being told the same thing. While Fire tablets have a backup and sync function, content in Freetime on children’s accounts is a separate backup setting. (You can set Freetime to default to a backup on the cloud under the Freetime settings tab.)

There are also an increasing number of reports (like this one) that many Fire tablets with Free time will not stay registered when the own re-registers them again. In some cases, the tablets are not even showing up on the account owners Manage Your Kindle page. One customer reported being told that the problem was caused by the home’s slow wireless connection!

This problem sees to be affecting a very large number of Freetime users. That means a lot of upset children who have lost not only any personal data, but also all their progress in games like Minecraft. That also means a lot of upset parents who are trying to figure out what is going on. As a parent, I would be pretty upset if this happened to my kids’ devices. Kids tend to take this kind of thing very personally.

Last time, it took a while for Amazon to post an official statement on the issue. We’ll see who soon we hear something. More to come on this.

Did your Fire tablet just de-register … again?

50_fireBack in April, there was a huge a problem with Fire tablets suddenly de-registering themselves. That issue predominantly affected the 8.9 Fire models.

There are multiple threads on the Amazon forums (such as the latest post on this thread), that indicates that the problem is back and it is affecting a lot more Fire tablets this time around. This time around, the problem seems to be involving the $50 fires and Fire tablets purchased for children that are running Freetime.

There are multiple descriptions of the devices spontaneously de-registering, profiles lost, and pins that will not work on the devices. Content, game progress and other data are also disappearing from the tablets. Many Fire owner owners have multiple Fires registered to their account and are reporting that it is the newer devices that are de-registering while the older ones are not. Some customers are also having a problem getting the devices to re-register when they try to correct the problem.

April’s de-registration issue was rumored to be a software glitch and this one may also be tied to a software update. One customer noted in this thread:

My two Fire Tabs for my young children spontaneously deregistered yesterday while they were charging, all content, progress and profiles appear to be lost and require you to start over completely. I put in a message to support and I have an email from them acknowledging this as a known problem on their end (server-side) and their only solution was to re-register and start over anew, losing any saved data and game progress. [Emphasis added]

It is also not clear from the forums if this problem also affects e-ink Kindles, particularly those for children. Some people are referring to problems with their children’s Kindle, but as people often interchange the name Kindle and Fire, I am not clear on which devices this problem actually affects.

More on this as additional info becomes available.

Related Update: Freetime update causes problems for children’s Fire tablets

Amazon called to say “update”

phone_640I’ve been talking a lot here on the blog about the critical update Amazon has been rolling out for the older Kindles. I’ve talked about the e-mails (here), the Web messages (here), the snail mail (here), and even the the fact that Snopes.com addressed the rumors surrounding the update. There’s been no doubt that Amazon wants to make sure its customers install this critical security fix.

Today, however, Amazon took it one step further. We actually got a recorded phone call at the house from Amazon reminding us that we need to update our Kindles in order to keep accessing the Kindle libraries and Amazon’s servers. The recorded message, which was repeated twice, re-iterated the instructions on the Kindle update page and emphasized that Amazon customer service was available any time to offer assistance by calling 1-866-321-8851.

The recording instructed us to please disregard the message if we had already updated within the last few days. (We had done all of ours over the last few days.)

[Please insert Adelle “Hello” joke here.]

Did you get a phone call about your update?

Yes, Virginia, you really have to update your Kindle. Snopes says so

snopes_kindle_updateI have been writing quite a bit here on the Kindle critical update situation. I’ve noticed that I am still having a lot of hits on the blog looking for info about the need for updates for the older Kindles. What is interesting is the number of hits trying to verify whether this information is true or if it is some kind of spam or a scam.

I am seeing search terms like:

  • What’s this about updating pre-2012 Kindles?
  • I have received a email about a software update for my Kindle
  • Amazon now demanding that you update your Kindle
  • Kindle update by March

And so on….

It seems that so many people have questioned whether or not this was a hoax, Snopes.com has finally weighed in on the topic. Snopes is pretty much the go-to destination on the web for debunking rumors. The article, Amazon Kindle Owners Face Mandatory Update, was published yesterday and verifies that yes, these emails and this update is indeed legit.

In case you are not clear as to which Kindles need updating, the article notes:

This update is not required for every model of Kindle, but only those from 2012 and older. Customers who act before the deadline will face a relatively easy task: Kindle models from 2010 to 2012 can be updated via Wi-Fi, and models from 2007 through 2009 can be updated via the devices’ wireless connections. However, Kindle users who miss the deadline will have to update their e-readers manually, typically by downloading the software update to PC or other devices and connecting their Kindles to those devices with a USB cable.

If you have been sitting on the fence about this, the clock is winding down. In order to update over the air via wi-fi, you must update by March 22nd in order for your device to be able to connect to Amazon’s servers and your library. After that date, you will have to connect to your computer using USB and install the update manually.

Perhaps after all the updates are done, it might be nice to come back and revisit this topic and try to figure out why so many people thought that this wasn’t real. Is it being constantly deluged with emails from Nigerian princes and online pharmacies? It makes you wonder….

Screenshot by Glinda Harrison/The eBook Evangelist

Amazon nags via snail mail, too….

In today’s snail mail:

kindle update mail

They are postcards sent to my husband and me reminding us that our kindles need a critical update. Postcards? From Amazon?

The irony: I tried to update one of my older e-ink devices yesterday, and for some reason, the update failed. I followed all the directions, but nothing happened. I am trying the others tonight, then calling Amazon tomorrow to try to pin down the problem (if necessary). I will post an update after I call. If I have to manually update all these Kindles, I am not gonna be happy…. 😦

How did your updates go?

Are you being nagged to update your Kindle?

A few weeks ago, I posted about a notice I got from Amazon to update my  older e-ink Kindles. Amazon was quite clearthat the update needed to to be done by March 22 in order to continue accessing kindles services.

Given the fact that it’s tax season, I haven’t gotten around to updating mine yet, although it is on the agenda for this week. But Amazon has definitely noticed that fact that I haven’t done it yet. Every time I go to Amazon.com, the site is reminding me that I still need to perform the necessary updates.

When I go to the Kindle page, I saw this banner ad:

kindle-software-update_hqp_355x70._CB294667646_

And if I click on the Amazon home page, this is the message I see:

kindle-update_2

Amazon has emphasized to customers that if this critical update is not done by March 22, we will not be able to download it by Wi-Fi and will have to up date our devices manually. Obviously, Amazon is not shy about nagging to remind us that we need to get this done.

Amazon is also being more specific about what will happen if you do not complete the update in time. Now, when you go to the update page (here), they have added the message that you will see on your Kindle if you don’t complete the update on time.

I suspect that Amazon is really, really trying to make sure customers get this done. I’m sure that they’d also like to avoid the influx of customer service calls from people needing to be talked through a manual update.

Okay, okay, Amazon! I hear you! I’m doing it….

How about you? Have you updated your Kindle yet? Are you being nagged?