Kindle Fire updated with sharing, book extras

Amazon is pushing out an over-the-air update to owners of its Kindle Fire tablet, bringing a mix of new features and improvements.

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet
Amazon has been updating its Kindle Fire tablet with a steady stream of worthwhile updates. CNET

Given that it's a tablet that sells for $199, Amazon has been pushing out software updates for the Kindle Fire at an impressive pace. The latest of which is available today, either as an automatic over-the-air update, or as a direct download from Amazon's support page.

One of the more eagerly awaited additions is a sharing feature in which you can select passages and quotes from e-books and share them with friends. You can also add notes to these selections. Shared notes and selections will be shown to other Kindle readers viewing the same book, and can be shared on Facebook and Twitter, as well.

Kindle Book Extras have also made their way over to the Kindle Fire (having existed previously only on the Kindle Touch e-ink reader). Drawing on Amazon's Shelfari reader community, book extras offer a quick rundown of character bios, a glossary of book-specific terms, author information, and a listing of locations within the book.

Amazon has added support for its "Print Replica Textooks" on the Kindle Fire. Unlike most e-books, where text layout and pagination are adjusted on the fly to fit the constraints of the reading device, these textbooks preserve the layout and page numbering of the original printed work. Granted, you're still stuck looking at textbook on a 7-inch screen, but at least students can literally be on the same page as their paper-based peers.

For those interested in less intellectual pursuits, Amazon hasn't forgotten you. Perhaps my favorite update on the Kindle Fire is a change to the video rental DRM that prevents the rental period from starting until you actually begin watching the video. Previously, all rentals started from the time the content was downloaded, making it impossible to stock up on movie rentals far ahead of a road trip.

Amazon's Silk Web browser now offers a text-only reading view, similar to Safari on iPad.

The Documents stored on the Kindle Fire will now be automatically backed up to Amazon's Cloud Drive, from which they can be redownloaded as often as you like. And just as Amazon will sync your place in an e-book across any devices you might use to access it, the same holds true for these stored documents.

That about wraps up this update. If you find any other interesting extras (or bugs) be sure to include them here in the comments