Kindle Fire Update Adds Battery % Meter and Breaks Wallpapers on Alt Launchers

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Kindle Fire HD

While Barnes and Noble is making their Nook HD tablets more appealing by adding support for Google Play, Amazon is taking the opposite approach by locking down their Kindle Fire tablets even more from outside influences and forcing people to use the custom Kindle interface to keep the cycle of spending more money at Amazon going in full force.

A couple of days ago Amazon started rolling out an automatic firmware update for the 2nd generation Kindle Fire, the 7″ Kindle Fire HD, and the 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD. Here are the links to the respective software update pages at Amazon.

Kindle Fire 2nd Generation: Software Version 10.4.1

Kindle Fire HD 7″: Software Version 7.4.1

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″: Software Version 8.4.1

The two main things this round of updates adds is the option to enable a battery percentage meter in the status bar (the option is available in Settings > Device) and the update makes it so international users can buy apps from the Amazon appstore, which recently went global.

The update also includes the usual “bug fixes and performance improvements” as well as newly-added support for Canadian English and Canadian French (except they forgot to add a Canadian dictionary).

One unfortunate side effect of the new software update is that it has broken wallpapers on alternate homescreens like ADW launcher and Go Launcher. Now it just displays a black background and all my attempts to get a different wallpaper to appear have been thwarted.

First Amazon made it so most alternate launchers wouldn’t work at all on the newer Kindle Fire tablets, and now they are seemingly attempting to cripple the few that do work. Amazon is forcing customers to use their custom Kindle interface, which is a shame because compared to other tablets it is very dull, unintuitive, and there are no customization options whatsoever. Not to mention the annoying carousel interface that throws everything on your device into one long confusing list, where items disappear and reappear at random.

Amazon is continuing to remind everyone that this is their tablet, not yours. They want all their products and advertisements at the forefront; your not supposed to be able to think for yourself or setup the device how you want to because Amazon wants to control everything you do with their tablets.

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9 Responses to “Kindle Fire Update Adds Battery % Meter and Breaks Wallpapers on Alt Launchers”

  1. One sided argument, not very balanced.

  2. I am not happy about this. I use Go Launcher and now all I have are icons, no wallpaper, just a black screen. The funny thing is when this is mentioned on the Amazon site, there are “KINDLE FORUM PRO’s” That are ripping into people who complain. If Amazon did not want anyone to use another homepage, update/improve that crappy Kindle interface.

  3. I like choices, glad I went for the Google Nexus; it has Amazon apps as well as the odd app from around the net. Google Play Store keeps offering to kill dangerous apps for me LOL!

  4. Thank you, Nathan for your article,but as sad as this new development is for some folks, I can hardly complain because I knew what I was buying when I purchased the Kindle Fire HD. I knew it was basically and only an Amazon product and my son reminded me of this countless times before and I after I purchased it. I knew I would not be able to customize it without side loading or some other sort of finagling. If I’d wanted something customizable I would not have purchased the Kindle. I did look at and compare several different tablets including the Google Nexus, Samsung Tablet 7″, the Nook, an Asus, Ipad Mini and a couple others that I forget the name of.In the end I chose the Kindle and do not regret it at all. My son has the zippy Ipad mini and loves it, but from what I can tell he can’t really customize his screen either since it is an Apple product and quite locked down as well.
    And I find his screen quite annoying with all those little icons covering it.
    So to those who don’t love what Amazon has just implemented, maybe you can sell your Kindles and buy what you really like. Idk, just a thought!:)

    • The appearance of the iPad’s home screen and lock screen can be changed to any background your son desires. The icons can be put into folders. Sounds more like your son does not wish to change the appearance of his iPad or does not know how. The things you mentioned are customizable on the iPad.

  5. I don’t get why Amazon is being so horrible about this, the carousal is almost as useless as silk. I didn’t know you could get go launcher on the hd, but I placed 360 on it and j was more than satisfied… personalization and a good wallpaper really bridges the gap from wanting to look at the tablet vs get on it and do something. And the carousal usually leaves me trying to figure out how to get rid of it most of the time vs looking for good apps worth keeping on the non expandable device. I’m really hoping it didn’t intervene with the side loading of Google utilities on it so I can us my paid apps.from the play store without hacking… or piracy.

  6. While your points are definitely biased against Amazon’s “OUR tablet, NOT yours”, I swear I feel the same—and I generally love much about Amazon. THAT is what really sucks—They bully folks who are long time fans of Amazon on SO many fronts—-

    Frankly pisses me off—to the point I WANT (& even need) to buy the 8.9 but refuse to support their dictator power trip. Dammit. I have a potent visceral aversion to big corporate arm-twisting. They’re a bit like drug dealers: give you lots to love, then bind you up in your own addiction while they’ve got their hand in your pocket.

    Need to yank the needle out of my arm and just say “NO! No more.”

  7. Richard Churchill Reply June 29, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Amazon is totally blowing it´s chance to be a market leader!

    If Amazon wants to compete within the tablet marketplace. they should heed the lessons taught by Apple and Microsoft. Microsoft was not always the leader in the desktop marketplace. In fact Apple had their windowing operating out almost two years before the IBM PCs and DOS So why are most of us using PCs instead of Macs?

    Simple. Apple got greedy. Everything on the Apple was proprietary. The hardware, the operating system, and virtually all the software, were products of Apple Corp. and all it was built around closed systems that Apple controlled. You couldn’t even write a line of code without paying royalties to Apple.

    So, when IBM, introduced the pc with it´s expansion slots, open operating system, and open programming environment. Business users found the DOS based PC a more viable solution for their needs. They could add expansion cards for new hardware, bypass the normal boot sequence, and even write code in a variety of languages.

    In short, the open systems, beat out the closed systems.

    Now we see Amazon tightening the reigns on it’s own users, who only want a tablet they can control. If they really wanted to grab market share they should be employing the exact opposite strategy, then the one they are currently using.

    Make the Kindle open and succeed or close it and fail.

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