Amazon says it will roll out a new software update for the Kindle Fire before the end of the year. The New York Times reports the new software will offer better performance, improvements in multitouch navigation, and the ability to edit the list of recently used items that show up on the home screen.
Right now there’s no way to edit the carousel which shows recently used apps, books, music, movies, and web sites. In other words, if someone in your family picks up your Kindle Fire they can easily see your web surfing habits.
The update will offer users a little more privacy along with performance enhancements.
Amazon has already released at least one software update since it started shipping the Kindle Fire last month. OS updates are pushed automatically so that most people will receive them without any user intervention as long as their device is connected to a WiFi network.
Of course, there’s nothing a software update can do to improve the hardware. If you’re looking for a device with a larger display, physical volume buttons, or cameras, no software will be able to help you out.
The New York Times article suggests that many early Kindle Fire customers are expressing buyers’ remorse in online reviews of the tablet — but I suspect that’s because at least some didn’t really know what they were buying. It’s tough to compare the $199 Kindle Fire to an Apple iPad or a $500 Android tablet. It can do many of the things those devices do — but it’s designed to work with Amazon’s digital music, movie, book, and app ecosystem.
If you were expecting a $500 experience from a $200 device, you’ll probably be disappointed. But I suspect you’ll be disappointed in a lot of areas of your life if you walk around with expectations like that.
I suspect reviews for the tablet will improve as the Kindle Fire becomes more well known and people only spend money on it if they know what they’re getting — a device that can stream movies and TV shows from Amazon, allow you to read eBooks and synchronize them with another Kindle eReader or the Kindle app on your phone, and a tablet that can run many, but not all Google Android applications.
Meanwhile the Kindle Fire has proven relatively popular with hackers who have already figured out how to replace the default Amazon software with CyanogenMod 7 — a full-blown version of Google Android 2.3 without Amazon’s window dressing. Work is already underway to port Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich to run on Amazon’s inexpensive tablet.
Update 12/19/2011: The software update is now available. The good news is that it appears to improve performance and offers more control over some privacy and security features. The bad news is that if you’ve rooted your Kindle Fire you’ll lose root access when you install Kindle Fire 6.2.1.