It turns out that I was too hasty to say that Amazon isn’t interested in updating the software/firmware for older Kindles. Not only has the company issued a software update for the first-gen Kindle Paperwhite but it’s also added a new sharing facility.
However, the update doesn’t include the new layout engine and Bookerly font that’s available on the latest Kindle Paperwhite model which is about to be released this week.
Amazon is expected to offer an upgrade to the second-gen Paperwhite at some point which will include Bookerly and the typesetting engine but it’s likely that the first-gen processor isn’t powerful enough to run these new features.
The software update for the first-gen Paperwhite includes general improvements, bug fixes and new features:
- Support for Family Library
Link two Amazon accounts and share books on your Kindle Paperwhite and other compatible Amazon devices and apps.
- Support for Kindle FreeTime Unlimited
An optional monthly subscription for Kindle FreeTime that offers thousands of books for children aged 3-8.
- Word Wise — See Hints for Difficult Words
Simple definitions and synonyms displayed inline above words while you read.
- X-Ray Improvements
Explore the “bones of a book” with an improved timeline and the ability to browse images and filter by Notable Clips.
- Deeper Goodreads Integration
Quicker to access and update your reading status and adds the ability to preview and purchase books without leaving Goodreads.
- Periodical Improvements
Access up to 40 magazine back issues from the cloud on your device. Multiple issues of the same periodical are now collected together.
The new so-called Kindle sharing experience is claimed to make it simple to have conversations about books using mobile messaging apps, even with people who have never used Kindle before.
Kindle readers could already share quotes and recommendations with friends on Facebook or Twitter and now they can start a conversation with specific people. Clicking on a book recommendation or shared quote now lets people start reading instantly.
- From a Kindle book, easily share quotes, highlights, and recommendations with specific friends.
- Share via popular mobile messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, as well as email, texting, etc.
- Friends who receive a share can instantly start reading a free book preview right from their phone, tablet, or PC.
You can get more details about about the new sharing features at Amazon.
The ‘ancient’ first-gen Paperwhite was introduced in the autumn of 2012 and while the update doesn’t take it to anywhere near the same level as the new 300ppi model, it’s nice to know that Amazon is still bothering to cater for customers who don’t want to have to buy a new e-reader every other year or so.
The software updates downloads automatically when your device is connected by wi-fi but it can also be downloaded from Amazon and updated manually by transferring to your device with a USB cable.