Amazon Fire has been out for a month and already is receiving a makeover. A major software update rollout will boost the tablet’s credentials among it critics and empower its users with new features that could boost its popularity.
Although Fire has received much praise from market experts for releasing the first Android tablet priced lower than the Apple iPad, it has been grilled for its perceived sluggishness, a criticism that could be slowing sales. Many critics continue comparing the Fire to the iPad, not exactly an apples-to-apples match up, handing Amazon a serious challenge.
Changes to the Amazon Fire interface are also expected to make the device easier to use. For example, the touch screen will be more responsive, addressing one major complaint. Changes to the carousel make it possible to remove program icons. This helps users organize and police the listing of their commonly used applications (helpful for those who enjoy alternative content).
Critics first to review the new Fire update have criticized it for failing to allow users to organize their apps by category. For some, the ability to customize the menu is still too limited, not going much further than the changes made to the carousel. The Fire continues with its 7-tab interface and it allows users to sort their apps by name or by date.
PC Magazine staffers have installed and tested the Fire update and have reported that the touch screen is more responsive, but still does not perform as well as does the iPad. Still, the performance increase is enough to be noticeable.
An update to the Fire’s menu for device restrictions now makes it possible for users to disable Wi-Fi network access. This could be in response to concerns that children could use the tablet to access Internet resources without permission. Device owners can now turn off Wi-Fi and require a password to turn it back on. Some analysts believe the placement of the new Wi-Fi feature suggests that Amazon will add more parental controls in the future.
The new Fire update makes it impossible to use popular one-click rooting utilities to gain root access to the tablet. Amazon appears to want to keep its device on lockdown, judging by its effort to make the rooting process more complicated. In the past, applications like SuperOneClick worked on the device, so users could quickly and easily customize it to their own preferences. At the least, the Fire update will make it so underground developers must spend and inordinate amount of time learning how to defeat the new system.
Amazon has made the Kindle Fire updateable via an OTA update. According to that company, the software for version 6.2.1 will download in the background and then self install, so the state of the battery should not affect the update in most cases. Still, Amazon recommends approaching the 182 MB update with a fully-charged battery. Fire users can also download the software update and manually apply it, but at least one technology