What Is It?
Owners of 3rd Generation Kindles can look forward to a new software revision coming from Amazon that promises a number of improvements to their e-reader via a free software update. Kindle Version 3.1 is currently in early preview release, which means it's almost ready for prime time. The features are locked down, testing is completed and they're letting it trickle out into the wild for a few days to gauge user reaction before pushing it out to all eligible Kindle owners. Earlier generation Kindles (Kindle version 1.2 or Kindle version 2.5 are the current versions for these devices) will not receive this particular update, but if you own a 3rd Generation Kindle, expect to see this upgrade shortly.
What's New in 3.1?
According to Amazon, there are four key new features that make up Kindle Version 3.1. They are:
- New Newspaper and Magazine Layout: This one looks to be fairly cosmetic, but includes a news snapshot that should make it easier to choose which articles to read.
- Before You Go…: Aimed at enriching the Kindle user experience through social networking, when you reach the end of an e-book, you can rate it, comment on the book through your social network of choice (Facebook or Twitter, for example) and receive recommendations on what to read next. Basically, this feature looks to be an attempt to plug Kindle into social networking and leverage social networking to get more out of the Kindle reading experience.
- Public Notes: Another feature clearly aimed at plugging Kindle users in to a network, this gives you the option of sharing any notes or highlights you made in your e-book with the Kindle community. You can "follow" Kindle readers of interest who use Public Notes, and any other Kindle users can read what you've opted to share.
- Real Page Numbers: Finally. Anyone who has used an e-reader knows that the page numbers on an e-book seem to hold no real life relationship to the page numbers in the printed version of the book. Fiddle with the font size and it only gets worse. That drives a lot of people crazy, especially if they are in a book club and members (some with e-books and some with dead tree versions) are trying to compare passages, or in the case of a school assignment where a student is told to read a particular sequence of pages. With Kindle Version 3.1, pressing the Menu key while in a Kindle book will display the actual page number you would currently be on if you were reading the printed version of the book. Not all e-books will have this capability upfront, but according to Amazon, the top 100 Bestselling books in the Kindle Store (so long as they have a print edition available) will be included, and others will follow.
How Do I Get It?
If you own a 3rd generation Kindle (Kindle Wi-Fi with serial number starting with "B008," Kindle 3G serial number starting with "B006," or European version Kindle 3G with a serial number starting with "B00A"), then you can expect Kindle Software Version 3.1 to automatically download to your device in coming days, once it's approved for general distribution. If you'd like to get a jumpstart on everyone else, you can download the Early Preview release version from Amazon here.