Kindle 4 Apps

Not all Kindle applications work on the newest Kindle 4 model without a keyboard ($79 with special offers and $99 without). If you are purchased apps in the past for your Kindle 2 or Kindle 3, these apps will show up in the “Archived Items”. But when you will try to download them you will get a message telling you “Item Not Available – This item is not available for this device type”.

Amazon has foreseen that trying to use apps designed for physical keyboard on a device that doesn’t have it will not be enjoyable. So they hand-picked 20 applications that don’t rely on keyboard and would do just fine with 5-way controller.

If you just purchased Kindle 4 or planning to and are wondering which apps will run on your device, here’s a list of 20 (out of 145) Kindle app titles that do well without a keyboard:

I’ll keep updating this list periodically and will update app reviews themselves with list of Kindle platforms that app supports.

Kindle 4 Disassembly

There is a whole post with partial Kindle 4 disassembly over at blogkindle.com. It reveals 890mAh battery along with ample empty space around it. New version of Atheros WiFi chip and 512kb of flash memory. Read the post to learn more and see pictures. All-in-all I wouldn’t call Kindle 4 battery “user-replaceable” but in all likelihood you are not going to need replacing it. I still have Kindle 1 and it still runs on original battery just fine.

Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch announced

Today Amazon has announced a foray of new Kindle devices: Kindle Touch (eInk reader similar to latest generation Sony models), Kindle Fire (Android-based 7″ tablet with backlit LCD screen that acts like a storefront for Amazon digital content: eBooks, periodicals, video and music) and Kindle 4 mini (keyboardless Kindle of a very small form factor, priced at $79). You can read about these devices in more detail here: Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire.

Kindle Fire features and specs at a glance:

  • Screen: 7″ LCD with multi-touch
  • Size: 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″
  • Weight: 14.6 oz.
  • Storage: 8GB internal flash memory.
  • Battery: Up to 8 hours on a single charge.
  • Wireless connectivity: 802.11b/g/n.
  • Pricing: $199

Kindle Touch features and sepcs at a glance:

Keyboardless Kindle Mini features and specs at a glance:

Kindle Calendar

Kindle Calendar
Kindle Calendar

Update 2: Finally there is a proper Kindle Calendar app that works like a proper calendar should without having to resort to workarounds like annotations. You can download it here!

Update: While we’re still waiting for fully functional Kindle Calendar application you can download this Kindle Calendar Book which comes close enough in terms of functionality.

Even before KDK was announced people wanted to use Kindle to organize their lives better. So “Kindle Calendars” were some popular eBooks that sold on Amazon Kindle Marketplace. With Kindle lacking any interactive features at that time these were merely eBooks with a page for every day of the week. You could then type notes for every day and these notes would be backed up to Amazon’s online servers.

While this provided security in case your calendar was lost, it would not show you your upcoming appointments in any easy way and it wouldn’t synchronize with any calendar services like Microsoft Exchange based corporate or personal mail servers, MobileMe, Google Calendars etc.

With Kindle SDK out all these features would be easy to implement. Also this app can very well be free since calendar isn’t likely to cause a lot of internet traffic unless your schedule is extremely busy.

I would bet that Calendar App would be among the first ones to appear.

Kindle Checkers

Kindle Checkers is another app that is likely to emerge quickly. I’t pretty much the same deal as with chess. Being able to play against Kindle CPU if you are beginner or against web-service. Controlling the game with 5-way controller is even easier since there are only 32 squares to choose from as opposed to 64. Also because the game is not as complex Kindle CPU would be able to provide more of a challenge to a human player.

RSS Feed Aggregator/Reader

While I would love to read any kind of blog on my Kindle I’m not that sure that this is going to happen.

While the application wouldn’t be that hard to create, it will pretty much render Kindle Blog publishing dead, since why would anyone want to pay for each individual blog when they can just pay for an app (even if it will be a recurring monthly subscription because of the amount of Internet traffic it will generate) and get all of the blogs including ones that are not available in the Kindle Store because their authors don’t want/care/can’t or just plain wouldn’t put them on there.

Although I doubt that blog subscriptions generate a noticeable porting of revenue compared to book sales and newspaper and magazine subscriptions the issue can cause bad publicity fallout for Amazon either way.

If Amazon would chose to block all such applications from it’s app store that will surely anger the user-base and cause bad publicity. Worse yet it will provide competitors with an easy opportunity to score a feature that Kindle wouldn’t match.

On the other hand should Amazon chose to release such an application, it might anger bloggers who submitted their content to Kindle Store and perhaps earned sizable income from doing so. I have no doubt that some blogs can boast more Kindle subscriptions than brick-and-mortar paper periodicals that are also available on Kindle. Should Kindle RSS reader application become a reality everyone except the most lazy individuals will likely cancel their subscription and switch to the app. This will result in revenue loss by bloggers and might cause some retaliatory bad PR. Although the number of begrudged people would be much less than in the first scenario these few people because of having popular blogs would have louder voices.

Despite the fact that personally I have some blogs published in Kindle Store I would prefer Amazon to go the open way. However I don’t know if it would be the case. Technically the app can be considered a “generic reader” that is explicitly prohibited by the Kindle SDK guidelines.

While most of the blogs can be read via Kindle’s built in browser the experience is so inferior to using the Kindle Store subscription (mostly because browser takes forever to start and navigate to the proper page) that I doubt that many people actually use it.

Email

While GMail as well as some other web-based email services work in Kindle’s basic web browser to one degree or another. Still accessing email is more frustrating experience than it should be from a device with decently sized screen, full keyboard and 3G Internet connectivity.

Therefore another application that is bound to appear is email client. Even though I have iPhone that can I can read my email on I would love to do so on Amazon Kindle because of it’s larger screen. After all if I carry it with me anyway to read books while I wait for one appointment or another why not use it as email client as well?

However there are some factors that don’t make this as easy and nice it one would wish:

1) The application will likely be subscription based since fixed-price and free applications are limited to 100 kilobytes of Internet traffic per month which is much less than average email user receives nowdays. However for those of us who do receive only few emails once in a while there may be a freeware app. Another option would be to setup filtering rules that would prevent all but email from several while-listed senders to ever reach the device.

2) While nothing is certain at this point it’s possible that Kindle SDK will prevent applications from connecting to any but standard HTTP ports and therefore whoever would distribute the app would have to come up with HTTP to POP3/IMAP/SMTP proxy service.

3) Rendering HTML emails with rich formatting might prove tricky given Kindle’s limited computing power on top of the fact that the SDK is likely java-based. While there are several ways around it – none are perfect.

4) International characters. Fonts that are installed on Amazon Kindle are limited to only Latin characters. With KDK and applications putting more strain on the limited amount of RAM that is available on the device Amazon will be even less likely to put fonts that would support broader range of characters and therefore consume more memory.

Folders

Folders is probably the most asked for Kindle feature. So with Kindle SDK out are we likely to see Kindle folders application? Right now it seems a coin toss to me.

After Kindle 2 was released internationally Amazon acknowledged the problem of organizing large libraries on the device promised a solution sometime in 2010. As I see it there are 4 options:

1) Amazon implements folders themselves. Folders can be one of the sorting options or a tab in the main screen that would most likely be accessed by tilting the 5-way controller right. Since Amazon owns the software and can integrate new features however they like it wold be easiest for them to do. So they may try to implement one-size-fits-all solution. I’m pretty sure that default home screen is going to be left intact by default so that the majority of users who are used to it will not have to change their habits.

2a) Amazon will provide a rich enough SDK that will allow developers to integrate their apps into home screen and book reading screens in a seamless and natural way (new menu items, new hot-keys, redefining existing hot keys, etc). This would allow the same experience as described in option 1 but developed by 3rd parties. So users will have more than one folders app to chose from. Multiple such applications might conflict with each other and spoil the user experience. However users will be free to chose any app or none at all. Since such seamless integration will require more complex SDK there is a chance that Amazon will not allow this kind of integration at all at least for now.

2b) Although it will not be possible to integrate folders application into home screen, Amazon will still allow applications to see filer in the “documents” folder and launch book reading application and PDF viewer. In this case folders app will be something users will have to explicitly start before they can see their library in an organized way. While this might not be too user-friendly it may end up being the only option. Lets not forget however that options 2a and 2b don’t cancel out option 1 (Amazon implementing folders themselves)

3) SDK will not allow applications to touch books at all. So folders app will be impossible to implement at all unless paired with a hack that Amazon will not likely allow.

Personally I find options 1 and 2b slightly more likely. Time will show if I’m right.