While the Kindle Fire’s interface is one of its biggest selling points, there are a number of things that might be done to improve the user experience further. It would be silly to make things more like the stock Android environment given the extent of Amazon’s breaking away from Google’s ecosystem, but there are still other directions that things could easily go.
The things that would be nice to see in Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet are plentiful, but here are a few that would be especially nice on the software side of things:
Better Appstore Integration
Overall the experience of shopping for and downloading apps is quite nice. What would be nicer is the ability to install an app you own without being redirected to the Store Page. In the Apps tab’s Cloud display, installable apps have the option to “Install” right in their context menu. Unfortunately, selecting this does nothing more than selecting the icon does. There is no need for the extra step.
Expanded Codec Selection
The Kindle Fire is a video consumption device, at its core. While there is little local storage compared to some tablets, there is more than enough available to carry around several movies at a time. Finding video that will play on the tablet is more problematic, thanks to the currently limited selection of video codecs. This was likely an attempt by Amazon to get customers used to using the Instant Video service, but if somebody is going to the effort of side-loading their own videos then it’s not really worth the inconvenience caused by preventing the viewing.
Menu Bar Controls
It’s often a gamble as to whether the thin black options menu at the bottom of the Kindle Fire’s screen will disappear when I want something to be full screen. While it is understandable that Amazon feels the need to keep this available on a device that lacks physical controls of any sort, the option to completely hide it rather than simply minimizing it would be more than welcome.
Expanded Parental Controls
The more recent firmware updates have added in a fair number of parental control options. It’s a good start. There are still cases, however, where more could be done. It would be great to see Amazon put some more effort into this and release a set of more intricate settings. This is especially important now that we’re finally seeing in-app purchasing, social gaming, and other such features that will appeal to younger users.
The Kindle Fire 2 is going to be a strong product. We know that Amazon has put some real work into the redesign and can hope that the software side received similar attention. With the competition breathing down their neck, now is the time to really impress potential customers.
Are there any features that you would like to see added or improved for the upcoming release?