Amazon Kindle Fire is, at least by Amazon's estimation, selling like hotcakes. But the road to tablet success has not been without its bumps. Many customers have complained about sluggish or jumpy screen interaction, an out-of-control carousel and no way of stopping children from freely shopping and surfing to some of the darkest corners of the web. Kindle Fire 6.2.1 software update is supposed to solve all that, and in our tests, it does a fairly good job.
Getting the update can be quite easy. If you're on a Wi-Fi network, it should show up in your Kindle Fire automatically. If not, you need to connect your Fire to your computer. I've been testing the Kindle Fire for a while, but for some reason, even though it was on the network, it did not automatically find the update. Then it decided to lock me out completely. The screen became unresponsive and I couldn’t shut down or unlock the device. A friend on Twitter offered a solution: Press and hold the Kindle Fire power button (its only button) for 20 seconds. That worked and the tablet finally rebooted.
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Next I unlocked the screen and connected the Kindle Fire to my computer via the micro-USB port. When you do that, you enter the USB-connected phase and screen. The Fire shows up as a storage device on the computer. I downloaded the software update and then dragged and dropped the file from my computer to the Kindle Updates folder on the device. Next, I undocked and disconnected the device. To activate the update installation, I had to open Settings/Device and then click the now highlighted Update button.
The install takes a minute or so and then the Kindle Fire does a full reboot, which can take a couple of minutes. When the tablet finished, it was in pretty much the same state I had left it -- although my wireless network settings were blown away. That took a moment to fix.
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Immediately, I could see and feel the difference. Most screen interactions were smoother and, finally, the carousel was in my control. I had no trouble finding and selecting whatever I wanted -- no more icons racing by before I could select them. The update also gave me the ability to remove items from the carousel -- which I began doing immediately.
The other major change is in network access control. Kindle Fire Update 6.2.1 adds the ability to restrict Wi-Fi access on a password basis. Amazon could have done a better job of highlighting this effective new feature. It's hidden under Settings/Restrictions. First you have to enable Restrictions, and then it walks you through a password setup. Nowhere in here does it tell you that this creates password protection for Wi-Fi access. You only see that after you set up the password. Still, the feature works as advertised. I added a password and now a little key appears up next to my tiny Settings button. If I try to access the web -- or any W-Fi related settings, including shopping for music, movies and other Amazon goodies -- I have to enter the key first. However, if you enter the password and hand the Kindle Fire to someone else, it will remain active. You have to remember to turn off wireless access to relock the device, which is a bit of a pain.
You should also know that disabling Wi-Fi does not cut off access to anything already resident on the device, like magazine downloads.
This update doesn't appear to do much else. Mail's summary page is still white and gray text on a black and gray background, but the overall responsiveness of the device even makes that more pleasurable to use.
I'll keep looking for other little tweaks. In the meantime, tell us about your update experiences. Did 6.2.1 improve your Kindle Fire? If you don’t have one, will you now consider buying an Amazon Kindle Fire with its more stable software? Share it all in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.