Every year when Amazon refreshes their tablet lineup they always enhance the Android operating system. Unlike devices from Samsung, or Dell Amazon skins the OS, giving customers a very unique experience. Fire OS 5 is based on Android 5.1 and today I will give you a rundown of all the new features.
Updated User Interface
Fire OS 5 “Bellini” introduces an updated user interface that provides the best entertainment experience on a tablet, making it easy to access your favorite apps or discover new content. The new home screen includes dedicated content pages for books, games and apps, video, music, audiobooks, and periodicals—each page presents an engaging layout akin to the beautiful pages of a magazine and presents your recent content as well as personalized suggestions for new entertainment. If you subscribe to services like Prime, Kindle Unlimited, or Audible, you can easily discover new content that you can access at no additional cost.
On Deck—Ensures You’ll Always Have Something Good to Watch
Have you ever forgotten to download a movie ahead of a flight? For Prime members, On Deck automatically keeps your Fire tablet current with popular Prime movies and TV shows, as well as Amazon Original Series, so you always have something good to watch. Importantly, On Deck only uses the available storage on your tablet, opportunistically in a special shadow mode. When you download something, On Deck automatically makes room for your selected content—there’s no hassle of needing to clear out space yourself. This feature will be available via a free, over-the-air Fire OS update in the coming months.
Many apps and games that are marked as “free” turn out not to be completely free. They use in-app payments to charge you for special items or to unlock features or levels. Fire HD tablet owners have access to a one-of-a-kind app store experience where over $10,000 in apps, games, and even in-app items are actually free. Experience titles from top developers, including Disney, Rovio Entertainment, Gameloft, Zeptolab, and Sega of America without ever having to pay for the app or in-app purchases.
Best Tablet for Reading —Now Even Better with Word Runner
Fire HD offers a crisp HD display, Amazon-exclusive features like the Bookerly reading font and Immersion Reading for audiobooks, and innovative new reading enhancements being introduced with Fire OS 5 “Bellini.” Read Faster—one word at a time—with Word Runner, a new speed reading feature that brings each word to the center of the screen to where your eyes are already focused. Word Runner has Dynamic Pacing so it gradually builds to your preferred reading speed and algorithmically and automatically slows down for difficult words, punctuation, and paragraph breaks. If you miss something, just tap and hold the screen to activate the brake, which instantly pauses Word Runner and lets you easily scroll back and pick up wherever you’d like.
Activity Center—More Tools for Parents
For parents with kids who have outgrown Amazon FreeTime but are not yet ready to be without parental controls, Activity Center provides an easy way for parents to see how their kids are spending time on their tablet. When Activity Center is enabled, parents can visit a customized, secure page on their smartphone, tablet, or computer to review how much time their kids spend playing games, watching videos, and reading. Parents can also choose to view browser history via Activity Center in order to understand what sites their kids are visiting on the Internet, or can look at which specific apps, books, or videos their kids accessed. Activity Center will be available via a free, over-the-air Fire OS update in the coming months.
Share Even More with Family Library
Family Library now allows families in an Amazon Household to share Prime benefits, including Prime Video, Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, free 2-day shipping on millions of items, and many other benefits. Family Library links your Amazon account to that of your spouse or partner so you can easily share apps, games, audiobooks, books, and Prime Video content within your household without changing accounts. Family Library lets family members share their content while using a single Fire tablet with different profiles, or across multiple devices—including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, and Amazon Fire TV—as well as on all of the other most popular devices and platforms with the free Kindle, Audible, and Amazon Video apps.
World-Class Customer Service—For Free
This is not a new feature, but Amazon is really hyping up Mayday, which revolutionized customer service with video chat on Fire HDX. Mayday Screen Sharing now brings Mayday-powered tech support to Fire HD tablets, delivering 24×7, 365 days a year technical assistance—for free. When you call in to customer service by phone, the Amazon expert can share your screen—with your permission—to draw on your screen, talk you through how to do a task, or to do it for you.
Best Tablets for Prime
The new Fire HD user interface is perfect for helping Prime members discover the best selection of digital content—available at no additional cost. Prime Video provides streaming access to tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, including Entourage, Orphan Black, and Downton Abbey, and is the only U.S. online subscription service that enables offline viewing. Plus, get access to award-winning Amazon Original programming like Transparent and Tumble Leaf, as well as new shows coming this fall. With Prime Music, you can listen ad-free to over a million songs, and with the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, you can choose one book per month from more than 800,000 books to borrow for free with no due dates, including current and former best sellers. Included with Prime, you will also receive secure unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive for your entire photo collection.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.