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Kindle Fire Gets Performance Boost

Amazon Kindle Fire 6.2.1 patch adds speed, lockable Wi-Fi, and better privacy.

Amazon Kindle Fire: Visual Tour
Amazon Kindle Fire: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Amazon issued a patch for Kindle Fire that the company said would make the hot-selling tablet more responsive to user input while adding new security and privacy features.

The update, version 6.2.1 for Kindle Fire, was pushed automatically to the devices last week. It can also be downloaded from Amazon.

"This update enhances fluidity and performance, improves touch-navigation responsiveness, gives the option of which items to display on the carousel, and adds the ability to add a password lock on Wi-Fi access," Amazon said on its website. The patch also reportedly enables users to delete their browsing histories.

To be updated, tablets need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network and have fully charged batteries. To start the update, tap the Quick Settings icon and then tap Sync. The update is applied once the tablet enters sleep mode.

Kindle Fire users also can download the update onto a PC and add it to their devices through a USB cable.

[ Other complaints remain. See Kindle Fire: Too Small, Too Large? ]

Amazon is on pace to ship 3.9 million Kindle Fire units by year's end, analysts at IHS iSuppli said in a report earlier this month. That would give it 13.8% of the global tablet market, good enough for second place behind Apple and its expected share of 65.6%, and well ahead of Samsung's estimated share of 4.5% for the fourth quarter. Samsung introduced the Android-based Galaxy Tab in 2010.

Barnes & Noble, which unveiled the Nook Color last month, is on pace for a share of 4.7% by year's end, and iSuppli estimated that HTC will close out the year with a share of 1.3%.

Amazon's share is almost double the 7.7% expansion of the tablet market that iSuppli said occurred after Kindle Fire's launch, meaning that at least some of the tablet's sales are coming at the expense of the iPad. iSuppli said Apple's share of the tablet market is poised to drop 4.1% from the third quarter.

Kindle Fire's success might owe a lot to the fact that it's priced at $199, making it a loss leader for Amazon. The least expensive iPad 2 model starts at $499.

Kindle Fire features a new kind of browser, known as Silk, which performs some functions locally while handing off other tasks to Amazon's AWS cloud data center. Amazon claims that makes Silk faster than competing mobile browsers, such as Apple's Safari, though some observers have suggested that the hybrid approach raises privacy concerns.

Kindle Fire offers direct links to Amazon's vast storehouse of books and magazines, as well as to third-party content from partners such as Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu.

In this Cloud Connect webcast, learn how an automated, secure service in the cloud can remove the burden of managing the complex and error-prone data protection process. It happens Jan. 17.

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