Take a look at the Kindle 3 and it’s hard not to notice that a lot of the improvements are software based. In fact, we can make a rather bold claim about Kindle 3.
50% of the killer Kindle 3 features are software based
It’s not at all contentious if you dig in. Here are the 12 killer Kindle 3 features in my opinion (the ones that are mostly likely software based are in italics) –
- Kindle WiFi – This is obviously out of the question for Kindle 2. Please note that we’re keeping Kindle WiFi and its $139 price point out of this particular discussion.
- eInk Pearl Screen and Graphite Casing – Out of the Question.
- 3 Font Choices – All software and will probably translate.
- Improved Fonts and 20% faster page turns (Perhaps) – These Kindle 3 improvements are due to waveform tuning, custom fonts, and font-hinting. Amazon says it tuned the Kindle 3’s waveform and controller mechanism and wrote code for better fonts – That definitely sounds like some/all of it could work with Kindle 2.
- Lighter and More Compact Kindle 3 – This isn’t possible as it’s a hardware change.
- 1 Month Battery Life with wireless off (Perhaps) – May or may not be possible for Kindle 2.
- WebKit Browser and Article Mode (beginnings of a killer feature) – Should translate perfectly from Kindle 3 to Kindle 2.
- PDF Improvements – All the PDF improvements should be movable to Kindle 2.
- Support for Cyrillic Fonts and CJK fonts (killer feature for people in China, Japan, Russia, etc.) – Should transfer fine.
- Voice Guide (Killer feature for blind and low vision readers) – Should transfer from Kindle 3 to Kindle 2.
- All the usability enhancements – A few of these are software based (disappearing auto-scroll bar, set time manually) and could make their way to Kindle 2.
- Better placed and better/quieter buttons. This is Kindle 3 only.
That’s quite a realization – 5 out of 12 killer Kindle 3 features are software based and there’s no reason Kindle 2 couldn’t have them.
Another 2 are perhaps software based with 1 in particular (1 month battery life) quite likely to be software based.
Thanks to ShirleyKat for the ‘Kindle 3 killer features to Kindle 2’ idea
ShirleyKat at the official Kindle forum wrote this list of Kindle 3 improvements that are software based and that, at least in theory, should be transferrable to Kindle 2 –
Additional fonts (change typeface and change line spacing in the Aa menu)
PDF improvements (dictionary lookup, add notes and highlights, open password-protected PDFs, adjust the contrast)
Read to me menus (already promised as an update)
Monitor download progress
Browser enhancements (zoom in and out, switch to article mode)
Set time manually
Additional Kindle file type supported (azw2). Maybe it’s for another enhancement that allows you to set bookmarks in personal documents
Start location in the progress indicator shows how far you’ve read in the current session
Even the longer battery life seemed to indicate that at least some of it was done via software.
We’ve already seen that at least 5, and perhaps 7, of the top 12 killer Kindle 3 features are software based. Let’s go through all the Kindle 3 software improvements we know of and see which would add value to Kindle 2.
Kindle 3 Improvements for Kindle 2 – Top 7
We actually end up with a huge list of Kindle 3 software improvements –
- The choice of 3 font types – We don’t need new hardware to support font types. The sans serif font in particular would be a good addition.
- PDF improvements – All the PDF improvements ought to make their way to Kindle 2 eventually. We have the dictionary, ability to add highlights and notes, ability to open password protected PDFs, the option to change the contrast of the PDF, and the ability to incrementally pan when zoomed (Amazon calls it ‘nudge’).
- Voice Guide (Accessible Menus) – Amazon promised this by mid of 2010 so we ought to see this in Kindle 2 soon.
- WebKit Browser – If the Kindle 3 help is accurate and the browser can display complicated websites perfectly then this is a must have.
- Article Mode in Browser – This is such a cool feature it gets its own bullet point. In Article Mode everything except the main text on a page is stripped away and you can focus on reading.
- Support for CJK fonts and Cyrillic Fonts in Kindle 3. It’s hard to imagine you need hardware for this.
- Usability Improvements in Kindle 3 – Auto-Disappearing Top Bar to allow more reading space, press left or right on the 5-way to jump to previous or next chapter, etc.
Each one of these would fit right in with the Kindle 2’s feature-set.
Important Kindle 3 Improvements that might be Software Tweaks
There are 3 Kindle 3 improvements that might be software tweaks –
- Improved Fonts – There are font related improvements in Kindle 3 that are software based. Amazon says it used waveform tuning combined with new hand-built custom fonts and font hinting to make alphabets crisper, clearer, and more accurate. That ought to be transferrable from Kindle 3 to Kindle 2.
- 20% Faster Page Turns – The speed improvement is due to waveform tuning and the tuning might be via software or hardware.
- 1 Month Battery Life – Given that the Kindle 3 is smaller and thinner than Kindle 2 it’s unlikely a bigger battery was added. That strongly indicates part or even most of the improvement in battery life is due to more efficient use. Surely, that can be transferred over from Kindle 3.
Note that these are the things we know about. There might be other improvements in Kindle 3 that are software tweaks.
Kindle 3 Improvements for Kindle 2 – The Rest
There are a few things that don’t hold as much appeal but could nevertheless be transferred from Kindle 3 to Kindle 2 –
- View Downloads Progress – This is a cool sounding Kindle 3 feature but you have to question how often people will be checking status when it’s mostly 60 second book downloads.
- Set Time Manually – Perhaps this is necessitated by Kindle WiFi but it’s a good feature to have.
- Improved Progress Bar – Progress Bar in the book now shows the starting point of your current reading session and notes and highlights you’ve made.
- Additional Dictionary – The addition of a dictionary for British English isn’t necessarily a most requested feature.
- Line Spacing in the Menu – Kindle 2 actually has more flexiblity as by using Alt+Shift+ (number between 0 and 9) you can choose 1 out of 10 line spacing increments. Kindle 3 offers only three choices.
All this discussion of Kindle 3 software improvements leads to an interesting question – Why not release the software based killer Kindle 3 features for Kindle 2 at the same time?
Well, that would make the jump from Kindle 2 to Kindle 3 not quite as marvellous.
Amazon is probably going to wait 1 or 2 months and then add a few (hopefully more than a few) of these killer Kindle 3 software features to the Kindle 2. Kindle 2 owners can take solace in the fact that Kindle 3 owners don’t get to play with all these features until end of August when the new Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are released.