Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablets all have one thing in common: They ship with the latest version of Amazon’s Android-based operating system. It’s called Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito,” and it’s a heavily customized version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

That means that pretty much any app that can run on Android 4.2 can also run on a Kindle Fire — assuming it’s available for download from the Amazon Appstore. But Amazon didn’t just give Android a custom skin and link the operating system to its own book, video, and app stores.

Fire OS 3.0 Mojito and other software updates let you download videos from the Amazon Prime Instant Video collection for offline viewing, tap a “Mayday” button to get free, live support within 15 seconds at any time of day, and more.

kindle fire hdx

There’s a chance we may eventually see some of these features on older Kindle Fire tablets, but at launch Fire OS 3.0 is exclusively available on the new Kindle Fire HD 7, Kindle Fire HDX 7, and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Home Screen

Don’t like the carousel view that Amazon’s been using as the home screen on Kindle Fire tablets? You can now choose a grid view instead, allowing you to see more content at once.

But there’s still an emphasis on showing all types of content on your home screen. You don’t just get icons for apps, but also music, movies, and other content.

Prime Instant Video download

Amazon Prime subscribers have always had a few extra perks including the ability to borrow a book a month from a huge digital library, and stream thousands of TV shows and movies from the internet.

Starting with Fire OS 3.0, subscribers can also download those videos for offline viewing.

When you buy your first Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, you’ll also get a month of Amazon Prime for free so you can try this feature before plunking down $79 per year for a subscription.

Not every video in the Prime Instant Video library will be available for download, due to licensing restrictions on some content.

Mayday Button

The Mayday Button is available on all of Amazon’s new tablets, and offers a 1-tap way to get in touch with Amazon support 24 hours a day. Amazon says the goal is to offer live support in 15 seconds or less.

kindle fire mayday

Support personnel will pop up in a video chat window, and they’ll be able to either remotely control your device to fix problems or draw on your screen to walk you through the process of doing it yourself.

Built-in app updates

Fire OS now includes OfficeSuite apps, improved email and calender apps, and more.

kindle fire email

 

For instance, there’s support for threaded messages and managing labels in the email app. There’s no native Gmail app available for Kindle Fire devices, but it should now be easier to use the default email app to access your Gmail account.

X-Ray

Amazon’s X-ray feature for Kindle eReaders has been around for a while, offering the ability to find more details about the characters, themes, and other topics in a book with information from Wikipedia and other sources.

Now X-ray is also available for music (with lyrics that scroll as you listen), and details about characters, actors, and other details for videos.

Second Screen

Want to send content from your Kindle Fire your to your TV? You can “fling” content from the tablet to a supported television and use it as a second display.

Kindle Second Screen

That lets you watch a video on the TV while you’re using X-ray to look up details about the flick on your tablet. Or you can can do ignore the video altogether and check your email or surf the web while the movie continues to play.

Second Screen isn’t just limited to videos — you can also send other content to a TV.

Right now the Second Screen software works with the Sony PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 or recent Samsung TV sets. There’s also limited support for any TV with Miracast — you can mirror the content of your screen to a Miracast-enabled TV.

When you fling Amazon Instant Video from your tablet to a TV it’s actually streamed straight from the internet to your TV without going through the tablet. This is a lot like the way you can use an app on your phone, tablet or PC to send content to a TV with a Google Chromecast device — and according to Engadget, there’s a chance that Amazon’s Second Screen service might eventually work with Google’s Chromecast.

Reading Mode and Goodreads

Amazon says you’ll be able to get up to 12 hours of mixed-user battery life out of its new tablets (or at least the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9, which has the largest battery). But you can get even more run time if you’re only reading books.

That’s thanks to a new Reading Mode which turns off system resources you aren’t using while you’re reading a book, offering up to 18 hours of battery life on the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 or 17 hours on the Kindle Fire HDX 7.

For what it’s worth, that’s still less than half the battery life you get from a Kindle tablet with an E Ink screen — but the fact that you can get even this close with a tablet sporting a full color, high-resolution display, support for HD video, and gaming is pretty impressive.

kindle fire goodreads

Amazon is also promising integration with social reading site GoodReads is coming soon, making it easy to read and share reviews, ratings and highlighted passages.

Enterprise features

Fire OS 3.0 adds encryption, VPN support, Kerberos authentication for single sign-on, and more.

While folks like to paint Amazon’s tablets as little more than digital delivery systems for content from Amazon’s app and digital media stores, the hardware is pretty impressive, the prices are good, and the addition of security and enterprise features could make them a viable solution for some business customers.

Accessibility

The new Kindle tablets include improved accessibility features, including a Screen Reader with Ivona text-to-speech, adjustable reading speed, a screen magnifier, and high contrast modes for visually-impaired people.

kindle fire magnify

There’s also closed captioning support for Amazon Instant Video, and a stereo-to-mono audio option for people using a single earbud.

Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign

or...

Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

8 replies on “Kindle Fire software updates: Prime video downloads, instant “Mayday” support”

  1. The problem with Amazon is that they don’t support Android very well. I’d like to give them money, but until I can watch Amazon Instant Video in a native app – they aren’t going to get any for prime.

    They can keep their Fire too…

    1. Hey Fewt, Amazon does have a Instant Video app but it is only available with their proprietary version of Android.

      Along with some other features that are exclusive to the Kindle… Amazon wants you to buy into their services, etc. So there are some things they make sure only they can provide… Unfortunately, a lot of the content providers don’t want to make it easy as they fear losing control and the insurance of profit…

      Like you can’t really use Hulu on mobile devices without Subscribing to the pay for Hulu Plus, even with devices capable of running Flash they block mobile devices, so you have no choice but to use the official app and pay for the subscription.

      So Amazon is hardly alone in making things difficult for end consumers…

      Though, Amazon doesn’t block mobile devices from their website. So, if you have a device that supports Flash then you can always just go to their web site and play Instant Videos directly…

      My dad’s Playbook, strangely enough one of the last devices that still get Flash updates (recently got one to update the security), for example has no problems watching Prime movies or going to other Flash sites like Crackle… Just not Hulu because of the Block…

      While, Flash is no longer updated for most mobile OS many devices can still work with the old plug-in… at least for now until Android changes too much to use it anymore… But, even then, if you can get a desktop Linux distro to run then you can just use a desktop browser.

      And is an alternative reason to consider a Bay Trail based mobile device as it can run pretty much anything…

      1. “Hey Fewt, Amazon does have a Instant Video app but it is only available with their proprietary version of Android.”

        Yes, I know. They also have one available for Android via Google TV. That’s not really the point though.

        “Along with some other features that are exclusive to the Kindle… Amazon wants you to buy into their services, etc. So there are some things they make sure only they can provide…”

        Agreed, as I implied when I said that I wanted to give them money but can’t.

        “Though, Amazon doesn’t block mobile devices from their website. So, if you have a device that supports Flash then you can always just go to their web site and play Instant Videos directly…”

        I know about this also, but that’s not good enough – hence why I said “native”. Why would I give money to a company and then use a kludge workaround to view content? It makes more sense to just not give them money since they don’t sell a product that I can consume without extra effort that doesn’t exist on their proprietary version of Android. 😉

        1. Unfortunately, whenever a company has an invested interest in promoting and selling a particular product or service they invariably don’t make it easy to get another way.

          It’s the nature of the beast, as they say… And it’s not going to change as long as companies sell something in any way exclusive to them…

          So we can either buy into, work around it, or go for some similar alternative…

          Besides, the Kindle is too successful for Amazon to be willing to change their policy any time soon…

          But this is why consumers usually go for a flexible solution as working around a problem is still better than being outright blocked!

          1. “But this is why consumers usually go for a flexible solution as working around a problem is still better than being outright blocked!”

            Actually they don’t. I don’t know of any (non technical person) that would be willing to put up with that nonsense just to watch Amazon video when superior native solutions exist on the platform like Netflix and Redbox streaming.

          2. First, let’s not exaggerate the problem as this is only a issue for mobile devices. Any full PC can access the service without any problem!

            Second, lots of people are willing to deal with it because mobile devices are limited and dealing with those limitations is often an unavoidable part of the package deal!

            This is one of the reasons why most people still use multiple devices and rarely would rely on one for everything!

            While pointing to alternative streaming services only points to general competition but those alternatives don’t provide the exact same content as Amazon offers! Nor do they have a invested interest in selling a product other than their services like Amazon does!

            So it matters whether people actually want to access what Amazon may have the exclusive rights to provide.

            I know you don’t like it but this is nothing new!

            Look at how many years Netflix limited their web streaming service by using Silverlight instead of regular Flash… Even the mobile app originally would not offer any HD content and the first device that would required a locked boot loader for it to be enabled!

            The main difference with Amazon is their interests are also tied into a physical product and not just their services… If the others had similar invested interests then they would naturally impose similar limitations to help promote the product as well as the services!

            Besides, Amazon’s reluctance to open their app to the general Android market is pretty much the same reason why Netflix doesn’t just provide a HTML5 version of their services… Lack of necessary security and they just don’t trust the open platform to ensure their content doesn’t get pirated!

            So, again, it’s the nature of the beast and as long as we try to access these services with limited devices we’re going to have to deal with limitations imposed on our choices and either work with those limitations or work around them!

          3. “So, again, it’s the nature of the beast and as long as we try to access these services with limited devices we’re going to have to deal with limitations imposed on our choices and either work with those limitations or work around them!”

            This is why things don’t change. As long as people elect to work around problems rather than voting with their money companies have little motivation. You can twist and turn it any way you would like, but that doesn’t make it ok.

            “Besides, Amazon’s reluctance to open their app to the general Android market is pretty much the same reason why Netflix doesn’t just provide a HTML5 version of their services… Lack of necessary security and they just don’t trust the open platform to ensure their content doesn’t get pirated!”

            FYI, Netflix is working on an HTML5 version of their services, it just isn’t ready for prime time yet. Amazon’s reluctance is because they would like to keep everyone constrained to their own device because that is the only thing that makes the Fire competitive except that it doesn’t really.

            We seem to be arguing in circles and accomplishing little so I’m going to get off the ride here. Good chat. 🙂

          4. “This is why things don’t change. As long as people elect to work around
            problems rather than voting with their money companies have little
            motivation.”

            This is very true but there’s always a tug of war between what consumers want and what companies are willing to provide and under what conditions they will or will not do so…

            But this doesn’t change that mobile devices are still very limited and until they’re not there’s only so much we can demand without expecting to pay a lot more and that’s another balance that has to be maintained between what the company is willing to provide for a given price range and what consumers want…

            So few solutions will ever satisfy everyone or even most…

            “FYI, Netflix is working on an HTML5 version of their services, it just isn’t ready for prime time yet.”

            I’m aware, they’ve been working on it for the better part of the last decade, it’s why I mentioned it and pointed out that it lacks security but also most content provides don’t trust mobile platforms and push for extra security…

            The open nature of Android, Linux in general, especially makes them fear how easy it could be to bypass their security and pirate their content.

            The fear is a bit exaggerated but tight control over content is the only way they can ensure their services aren’t compromised… So they prefer overkill rather than take any significant risk… thus limited choices…

            But as better security options come around, they’ll start easing up and providing more options… it just may take a few more years before it happens…

Comments are closed.