Customers who pre-ordered Amazon’s 2nd generation Kindle Fire or the 7 inch kindle Fire HD are just starting to receive their tablets. But Amazon has already pushed out the first software updates for these tablets.
Amazon doesn’t spell out the features included in the software updates, but they’re design to “optimize … performance and functionality.” It’s also possible that these aren’t actually updates at all — but just the first download links for the software that ships with these tablets.
You can download both updates from Amazon’s Kindle support pages:
Those are probably the same pages you’ll visit for information about future updates, but as of September 14th, 2012, the latest software for the Kindle Fire 2nd gen is version 10.1.3, and the Kindle Fire HD 7″ tablet gets software version 7.1.5.
Amazon’s tablets are designed to download updates automatically, without any user intervention. But these web pages let you download the software manually on a PC and push it to your tablet in case your device doesn’t grab the software automatically.
The download links also provide fodder for hackers looking to see what makes Amazon’s software tick, but it will probably be a little while before we see anyone release tools for rooting the new tablets or installing custom ROMs or other software that’s not officially supported.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire operating system is based on a modified version of Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with Amazon’s custom app launcher, app store, digital media store, and other tweaks.
Text to Speech
Here’s one fun thing I found while browsing through the software update: The Kindle Fire HD uses IVONA’s Salli voice for text-to-speech functionality.
It sounds much more natural than the text-to-speech features Google uses in its default Android builds, and much better than the TTS voices available for older Amazon Kindle eReaders (Amazon stopped including text-to-speech on its newer eReaders, starting with the new Paperwhite model).