Amazon announced today that the Android-based FireOS it provides to new generation Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX tablets has been updated to version 3.1. While I don't think this new version changes the competitive landscape per se, it does add a few interesting new features.
FireOS 3.1 is available as an over-the-air update and will eventually install automatically. If you have a Kindle Fire HD or HDX, you can try to find it in Settings, Device, System Updates, though it will be rolled out over the coming weeks. (Note that this update only applies to late-2013 era Kindle Fire HD devices, not previous generation devices.) If you wish to install FireOS 3.1 immediately, please visit the Kindle Software Updates page with your PC, download the update, and then use the instructions here to install it on the device.
New features include:
Goodreads. With this update, your Kindle Fire HD/HDX offers deep integration with Goodreads, a community-driven site that is billed as "the world's largest site for readers and book recommendations." This integration occurs in-book, so you can capture and share favorite passages, see what your friends are reading, rate and review books, and import your Amazon print and Kindle e-book purchases into your Goodreads account.
Fling TV. A new Miracast/Wi-Di-like feature called Fling TV works with a very limited range of devices—currently just Sony's PlayStation 3 and Samsung Smart TVs—Fling TV is yet another take on the second-screen concept. The idea here is to "fling" (i.e. stream) the display of TV shows and movies to your HDTV while using the tablet screen for playback controls and Amazon's nice X-Ray functionality.
Enterprise support. When Amazon announced the Kindle Fire HDX lineup this year, it started talking up enterprise use for the first time, which I found rather odd given the consumer-heavy nature of these devices. But FireOS 3.1 adds a variety of enterprise-friendly features including secure enterprise Wi-Fi network support, SharePoint support, a native VPN client, and a SCEP (Simple Certificate Exchange Protocol) client for retrieving digital certificates for secure resources. Amazon notes that Fire OS also now supports Kerberos authentication, which enables the ability to browse secure Intranet websites from the Silk browser, and Kindle-specific device management APIs that integrate with existing mobile device management (MDM) systems to make it easy for IT departments to manage Kindle Fire.
Cloud collections. With more and more people stocking their accounts with cloud-based libraries of books, magazines, newspapers and apps, Amazon is now letting customers collect like items into cloud collections that can be viewed and managed as groups that sync across your devices.
1-Tap archive. This useful feature frees up storage space on your device by identifying items that have not been recently used and provides a 1-tap option to store them in the Cloud for later retrieval. (I spend a lot of time manually removing old content, so I can see where this is desirable.)
Voice dictation. FireOS 3.1 adds speech to text capabilities that work in all languages when online and in English when offline.
Wireless printing. You can now wirelessly print photos, PDF, e-mails, contacts, calendar and docs.
Accessibility enhancements. FireOS 3.1 "enables blind and visually impaired customers to save a separate accessibility profile for children in Kindle FreeTime, scroll lists automatically when swipe navigating, hear enhanced sound feedback and screen orientation changes announced, and have more control when editing text and navigating web content."
And more. FireOS 3.1 also includes "dozens more new features, performance and battery life improvements, and bug fixes," Amazon says.