Kindle Fire users can update their tablets. Amazon is bringing a major refresh to the device's operating system that offers improved management of books, newspapers, magazines and apps.
Also added is Goodreads support, allowing users to find and discuss recommended books, plus second screen support for PlayStation consoles and Samsung TVs to bring video on the big screen.
But the most disruptive news from the giant today comes in the form of AppStream, a new service that allows intensive games or apps to play on any device. This, in time, could threaten premium hardware sales and games console launches.
Fire Those Tablets Up
Thanks to its unique operating system, Amazon can offer all kinds of features not found in generic Android updates to its Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX users. The latest update will arrive shortly on those devices over-the-air or through a downloaded direct from Amazon. Fire OS 3.1 offers a range of new ideas to improve interactivity, social connectedness and feature advances, plus the usual bug fixes, improvements and other tricks to help extend a device's battery life.
While it might not be as dramatics as an iOS release, there is plenty of benefit for Amazon's content-heavy users. The top ticket feature from the update is Goodreads integration, linking book lovers to make it easier to find and discuss good reads. Amazon has linked it directly into the Kindle reader, so there's no need to hop out to a distinct app. The service also offers quizzes and social links to find out what your friends are reading, so makes an ideal companion for bookworms.
Also new is Cloud Collections, allowing users to easily organize their content including books, newspapers, magazines and apps. These collections are synced across all a user's devices so their content is easy to find, whatever they are using.
Finally, Second Screen helps send your movie or TV shows from the tablet to the big screen via an app that's current compatible with the PlayStation 3 and Samsung Smart TVs, with support coming for the new PlayStation 4 console. This allows users to keep checking their email while a show is on, and control the show, or interact via Amazon's X-Ray feature.
For those who want to take their Kindle Fire to work, improved enterprise and BYOD support will let the device connect with the office. From enterprise Wi-Fi networks and access corporate apps, to documents and resources like SharePoint, VPN clients and digital certificates for secure resources, the Kindle Fire is now on a par with many other enterprise-friendly devices.
Full AppStream Ahead
A separate announcement from Fire 3.1, Amazon also dropped news of AppStream, an AWS service that can send high-quality games and data-intensive applications to any device, including the Kindle Fires, news that could see the big console launches and premium mobile devices being seriously disrupted in future. An SDK is available for PC, iOS and Android, with a Mac version to follow
As you'd expect, all the grunt work is done on Amazon's servers with the resulting screen content sent to the device, be it a notebook, tablet or smartphone. Users can interact in real-time with low-lag (depending on connection). This could eventually remove the need for high power processors in devices, and while the idea isn't new -- Sony acquired similar technology in Gaikai last year for $380 million -- but could improve Amazon's push into the gaming market.
Sony's plan is to push its PlayStation games to other devices, with paying subscribers gaining access its near-20-year archive. Amazon will likely continue to develop unique games to sell this offering, but can also focus on producing lower-cost devices without the expensive processors and memory.