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Hands on with the Kindle Touch update

Amazon Kindle Touch software update [1]


By Juli Monroe | for Technology Tell [2]

Amazon released a software update for the Kindle Touch yesterday—Wednesday, January 10—and I’ve been trying it out. (Click here for software updating instructions [3].)

My verdict? I really like it. There had been concern that Amazon would abandon the Touch when the Paperwhite came out, and I was glad to see it wasn’t true.

I’d been thinking about the Paperwhite for two reasons: added fonts and the ‘Time to Read’ feature. Time to Read looked very cool, especially to someone who was coming from a Nook Color that told me how many pages were left in a chapter. I’d been missing that feature on my Kindle Touch.

Fortunately, Time to Read has been added in the latest update, and it works well. It took a bit of time for TTR to learn my reading speed, and it’s not completely accurate. It thinks I read a bit faster than I do, but it’s fine. At least I have some idea of how long my next chapter will be, or how close I am to the end of the current one, and that’s what I really wanted.

Another nice addition was the ‘Cover’ view. The previous ‘List’ view had certainly worked well, but it’s nice to see the actual book covers on my home screen. (Quick note: If you don’t like the “Recommended Content” that shows up in Cover view, you can disable that feature in Settings.)

Also new: You can now read a sample, buy the book, and start it at your last reading location from the sample. Nice! I never could understand why that hadn’t been standard already.

Whispersync for Voice has been added. I don’t use that feature, but maybe one of our readers can comment on it? Also, children’s book and comics are enhanced, with Kindle Panel View to read comics panel by panel. I don’t read comics on my Kindle, but I assume it works similarly to Guided View in the Comixology app.

One more bit of good news for you Touch owners: You know how the Paperwhite and K4 crowd have been complaining about the inconvenience of “Airplane Mode” for turning off wireless? Both those devices require you to go back to the home screen to turn off Wi-Fi—you’re not given the option of being able to turn it off from any location that also allows you to access the menu (including from within a book). That’s been an unnecessary hassle for too long. Well … the Touch retains the ability to turn off Wi-Fi from anywhere. Whew!

All in all, an excellent update. If you still own a Touch, update it. Unless you need the lighting of the Paperwhite, there’s no reason to upgrade now, so save your money for the next generation.

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Hands on with the Kindle Touch update"

#1 Comment By Sarah Park On January 11, 2013 @ 6:11 am

Thanks for sharing this update. I wanna try it myself and see if I will love it.

#2 Comment By Tom Semple On January 11, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

Actually a Paperwhite update added the ability to jump to Settings without going to Home screen first. But that’s still not as convenient as being able to toggle wireless on and off directly, as you can on Kindle Touch.

Whispersync for voice works fine, but the Audible player is fairly bare-bones, and I doubt many people use it. Audiobooks chew up a lot of Kindle’s limited storage, especially as the only wireless download option is for the bulkiest of Audible’s formats, and most wireless audiobook downloads do not offer the option to download the audiobook in parts, complicating storage management.

One other piece of update trivia: the swipe up/down gesture for chapter navigation is still there. This useful feature is not to be found on Paperwhite, probably because some people accidentally invoked it and were ‘surprised’ and annoyed to lose their place in the book. Kindle Touch owners will have long since become familiar with its workings and would have missed it had Amazon removed it to match Paperwhite behavior.

#3 Comment By carmen webster buxton On January 11, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

Do you know if the Touch kept the next chapter/last chapter function on the up and down page swipe?

#4 Comment By Juli Monroe On January 13, 2013 @ 10:43 am

Carmen, yes, the swipe up/down for chapter navigation is still there. Good question. I never use it, so I didn’t think to check for it.

#5 Comment By Frank Steiner On April 1, 2013 @ 3:10 am

I believe whispersync requires the Audible app for Android or iPhone/iPod Touch, or a Kindle Fire. It doesn’t work in the Kindle Touch. And not all of the books offer whispersync option.