Amazon on Wednesday issued a software update for its Kindle Fire tablet that it said addresses some of the most vocal complaints about the device, including sluggish response to touch and a lack of parental controls.
The 6.2.1 update "enhances fluidity and performance [and] improves touch navigation responsiveness," Amazon claimed in a note on its website Wednesday. Other changes let users select which items appear on the Fire's "carousel," effectively the device's start page, and password-lock the Wi-Fi connection, two options parents had demanded to prevent children from seeing all content on the tablet, or monkeying with the crucial link to the Web.
Not addressed were complaints rooted in the hardware, including a lack of external volume controls and the position of the On/Off switch, which some feel is too easy to accidently trigger.
The update was expected: Last week, the New York Times quoted an Amazon official as saying that the company would deliver a Fire software upgrade shortly.
It was the second update to the Fire since the tablet launched five weeks ago.
Version 6.2.1 of the Fire's system software will be delivered automatically to all Fire tablets via Wi-Fi, Amazon said.
Users can initiate the update process by tapping the Quick Settings icon at the upper right of the display, then touching "Sync." The update will download and install automatically.
Computerworld updated a Kindle Fire to 6.2.1 using a Wi-Fi connection without problems.
While the update made the Fire more responsive to touches, and navigating the carousel was decidedly smoother, the tablet still balked at times, particularly when tapping on a link in the built-in Silk browser. The browser itself still loads most pages slowly, even when the tablet is within range of a strong Wi-Fi signal.
Other reviewers have generally given the update high marks, however.
To delete an item from the carousel -- a good idea when several people, children especially, are sharing one Fire -- users simply touch and hold an item, then select "Remove from Carousel" in the ensuing pop-up menu.
Amazon also updated the iOS editions of its Kindle app today, adding the library of more than 400 magazines that the Kindle Fire has been able to access since its debut. Those magazines are generally available as single-edition purchases or as subscriptions.
New features of Kindle 2.9 for iOS -- there are separate versions for the iPad and iPhone /iPod Touch -- include the ability to push documents to one's Kindle account by using the Send-to-Kindle email address. Documents forwarded to that address are stored on Amazon's servers, and can then be downloaded to an iOS device.
Send-to-Kindle addresses are assigned by Amazon when a customer purchases a Kindle device.
The free iOS Kindle upgrades can be downloaded from Apple's App Store.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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