The last time Amazon changed content on the Kindle without anyone knowing – deleting George Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” – there was a major uproar. This time around, Amazon’s intentions are a bit more benevolent.
Yesterday, Amazon announced it was making two new improvements to the Kindle by way of a firmware update that is downloaded automatically when users enable the e-reader’s wireless capabilities and the device goes into sleep mode.
The upgrade will extend the battery life of the newest Kindle by 85 percent, allowing the device to be on for seven days even with the wireless turned on. The device’s previous battery life was four days.
Battery life with wireless turned off remains at the previous level of up to two weeks. Amazon said the update was the result of a six month firmware improvement and testing program.
The upgrade also adds a PDF reader to the 6-inch Kindle, allowing users to read documents in their original PDF format without conversion. The Kindle DX already has that feature.
Though such updates seem benign, installing them without users’ consent is unusual; most computers and other electronic devices ask permission to install upgrades and allow users to opt out if they choose.
Amazon’s practice of making changes to the Kindle without users consent caused problems earlier this year when it remotely deleted copies of George Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” when it discovered it had sold books it did not have rights to. Customers were refunded for the cost of the removed books.
The company later said it would not wirelessly remove content from the Kindle in the future, but the New York Times and consumer forums have reported other instances of content being deleted from the Kindle by Amazon.