Amazon released Wednesday yet another update to the software in its popular Kindle Fire tablet computer. The product, which has already shipped six million units, is only five weeks old but is already on its second software upgrade. This update, revision 6.2.1, addresses five problems that many Fire users found vexing:
- Access to Android Marketplace has been opened. Up to this release, Fire users trying to access the marketplace—where Android users go to find and purchase new apps for their devices—were redirected to Amazon's Android app store. However, most Fire users will only be window shopping at the marketplace since there's no easy way to link a Fire to a Google account, a necessary prerequisite for installing apps directly from the market to an Android device.
- Easy removal of items from the carousel. When apps are opened they appear in a carousel on the home page. Now apps can be ditched from the carousel with a prolonged press and a poke of a prompt. Apps removed from the carousel, though, will reappear when they're relaunched.
- Jail breaking Fire with one-click rooting apps is blocked. Users root their devices for various reasons including to improve performance, remove hardware bottlenecks, install apps on storage cards and add features unavailable to the device any other way. For the adverturous, the rooting limitation in the latest upgrade can be surmounted through use of a pre-root kit.
- Ability to impose restrictions on Wi-Fi access. If your Fire is a family device, you'll especially appreciate this modification of the unit's software. It allows you to password protect access to any Wi-Fi network from the device, a good way to keep children from accessing the Internet with the unit without your permission.
- Under the hood tweaks for better performance. Early reports from users are saying they've noticed navigation was smoother and the touchscreen more responsive after the latest upgrade was installed, although the tablet still lacks the fluidity of an iPad.
In addition to its early Christmas gift to Fire users, Amazon also had a goodie for Apple iOS devotees: a new version of its Kindle software, revision 2.9, which added a new scrolling menu for faster access to content, an email to Kindle feature, improved support for reading PDF files, access to more than 400 magazines previously only available to Kindle hardware users and support of print-replica textbooks, which should make life for students easier and help them trim their expenses as well.