Kindle Fire Update Brings Sharing, Book Extras, Print Replica Textbooks To The Masses

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Hey there, Kindle Fire owners — Amazon’s rolling out a brand new software update for you, and it packs quite a few worthwhile (and arguably overdue) tweaks for your budget-conscious tablet.

Take sharing, for example. Oddly absent from the Kindle Fire at launch was the ability to share interesting snippets of text like its e-ink brethren, but that functionality has been added, along with the ability to tap into Amazon’s people-powered Shelfari service for what the company calls Book Extras — extra related information pertaining to the book a reader is poring through.

Amazon is also positioning the Kindle Fire as more of educational device than before with support for print replica textbooks, though I’m hoping against hope they eventually work up something like Apple’s more hand-on approach. Be warned though students — speaking as someone who tried in vain to give up textbooks in exchange for their e-book editions for a semester, you’d best be prepared for a bit of learning curve. If nothing else, the update makes it easier for owners to skim through long articles online, as Amazon has also added a special reading view for their Silk browser that that strips out all the cruft in favor of a less-is-more reading experience.

Also included are a handful of miscellaneous fixes that range from the minor (WiFi reconnects faster after the Fire wakes up) to the thoughtful (the time limit on movie rentals now starts when it’s first played, not when it’s downloaded). Alright, it’s not the most mind-blowing update, but Fire owners probably won’t be looking this gift horse in the mouth.

Amazon has said that the update will be pushed to be devices over the coming days, but particularly anxious Fire owners can go ahead and take the plunge now. And for once, you don’t have to worry if you’re rocking a rooted Fire, as the folks on the XDA forums have already managed to score root access to the thing — you’ve gotta love that ol’ hacker spirit.