Kindle Fire update: Not Android by design

Summary:Amazon rolled out an update for its Fire OS to most Kindle Fire tablets. The update further removes owners from the Android experience.

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Image: Amazon

ZDNet's Zack Whittaker reported on the release of the latest Fire OS for Kindle Fire tablets . Fire OS 3.1 updates the innards of Amazon's variant of the Android OS and adds several new features to the tablets as detailed by Whittaker.

There's nothing particularly unique about this update from Amazon, and that's why Kindle Fire owners will like it. Unlike most other Android tablets, every owner of a Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablet will have this update pushed to be installed when convenient.

The simplified UI coupled with the automatic update process employed by Amazon with the Kindle Fires is directly contrary to the typical Android tablet situation.

Amazon has effectively positioned its Kindle Fires to be totally removed from the Android system as far as buyers are concerned. The graphical interface is very consumer oriented and is welcomed by the non-techie consumer.

The simplified UI coupled with the automatic update process employed by Amazon with the Kindle Fires is directly contrary to the typical Android tablet situation.

Many Android tablet owners are tech-savvy and prone to tweak the software running their devices. They also pine to get the latest version of Android onto their devices, and will often go to great lengths to do so. The ability to play around with the Android OS is a big draw to this group, and why many look down their noses at the simplified Kindle Fire line of tablets. Being locked into a walled garden with a simple UI wrapper is often the reason these Android enthusiasts give for avoiding the iPad, too.

That's not only OK with Amazon, it's what they've worked hard to achieve. While Amazon's Fire OS is built on an Android base, it's evolved into its own OS aimed at satisfying the Kindle Fire audience. Amazon realized early on that the vast newbie market segment was the only one that mattered for its purposes, not the comparatively small tech-savvy group of consumers.

Fire OS has evolved into Amazon's own system, removed from the Android platform. That puts the company in firm control of the entire Kindle Fire experience, from hardware to software to ecosystem. That level of control is only enjoyed by Apple with its iPad, the big dog in the tablet fight.

Most Kindle Fire owners I speak with really appreciate one facet of their tablets: the simplicity. They turn them on and easily do the things they want, and that is also true with the system updates. The tablet tells them an update is available and then walks them through the few steps to get it done. They restart the Kindle Fire and have new features not only available, but carefully explained how best to use them.

That's why the automatic deployment of the Fire OS is so important to both the company and its customers. To the typical non-techie Kindle Fire owner, it's not really an OS update. It's a case of Amazon looking out for them and sending them new features. In other words, it's the way these sort of things should work.

See related:

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Android, Tablets

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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