The Kindles for 2019 have all been revealed – the basic model, the Paperwhite and a few days ago, the Oasis. And by and large, Amazon has stuck to the same basic Kindle, adding a little here and there (lighting colours to the Oasis, lighting to the base model, a flush display to the Paperwhite and so on). Of course, Kindle loyalists would love this sense of continuity, but and there is no doubting that the Kindle is easily the king of e-book readers. That said, it would be nice to see some changes in the established Kindle order, in terms of design and functionality. These seven in particular, I feel, would make the Kindle an even more compelling book reading option:
A better touch experience
The Kindle e-book readers went all-touch a few years ago. And things have been… erratic ever since. No, this is not to say that the touch experience on the Kindles does not work. Just that it is worse than what you get even on the most affordable smartphone out there. There is an inevitable pause between touching the display and seeing it react, whether you are typing or simply pinching to zoom. Yes, you get used to it after a while, but inevitably if you are switching from a phone or a tablet to a Kindle (which one so often is), the first few minutes are of intense irritation. And the Lord help you if you have to enter credit card information for making a purchase! A much faster touch experience is pretty much the need of the hour for the Kindle.
… And/ Or a real keyboard
My first Kindle was the second-generation one. And it came with an e-ink display with a full QWERTY keyboard beneath it. It was not the most comfortable keyboard to use (hey, the BlackBerry and Nokia E series devices were still around to show us how good keyboards could be), but using it was infinitely more comfortable than the on-screen keyboards of the all-touch Kindles. And because it was so, I saw many people making many more notes (and more comprehensive ones) and highlighting more copy on the Kindle. No, I am not saying that Amazon should kill the touchscreens on the Kindles, but that it should consider having a keyboard edition. Or maybe even a snap on keyboard accessory kind of thing.
Alexa, where are you?
This is the ultimate irony. Amazon’s omnipresent assistant is altogether absent on the Kindle. And this is when its presence would be a massive boon. Imagine simply saying “Alexa, get me a copy of the latest Harry Potter” or “Alexa, what’s the price of the new book by Lee Child?” and getting the answer right up there without having to do any typing. No, we do not think that people would use Alexa on their Kindle to find out about the weather or hear jokes, but even a book-trained Alexa would be awesome. One could just ask “Alexa, who said ‘I can resist anything but temptation?’” The Kindle is pining for Alexa, and I really think Amazon should give it a date!
A well positioned power/display button
Amazon has flirted with the power/display button positions for a while now. And frankly, has never quite got it right. We have had it on the sides and on the back. Using it is so inconvenient that many of us buy a Smart Cover simply to be able to switch off the display of our Kindles without having to scrabble to find that tiny button. It would be great if it could be located someplace where it is easy to reach and also be of a decent enough size. Or maybe even have the option to tap twice to switch off the display, a la some phones.
One of the Kindle’s gifts is its ability to go on and on for days on a single charge. Charging it however can be a tedious process, taking a couple of hours. It would be great if Amazon could maybe throw in some fast charging magic here, or at least have some option to get a few hours reading by charging for just a few minutes. And yes, it would be awesome if Amazon could bundle the fast charger in the box itself. While on the subject, I am all for Amazon bringing back a smart battery cover – those things were super handy!
Colour on display
Yes, you read that right. Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers have always been greyscale affairs, and while we appreciate the greater similarity to real paper, there is no doubt that some colour would definitely add to the experience. This is especially applicable to those who want to read graphic novels or books with lots of images in them – photographs still do not render all that well on the Kindle. It need not be stunningly bright colour, but any colour at all would be a welcome addition to the black and white (with shades of greyscale) world of Kindle right now.
Colour in design!
“If it ain’t broke, why fix it” is a handy motto, but we really wish that Amazon would bring some flair to the Kindle’s design. Yes, there have been subtle changes, most notably in the Kindle Voyage, but by and large, the Kindle seems to have been designed to be read rather than flaunted. Noble? Yes. But I ask, would something be lost, if a Kindle was available in bright colours, like red and blue and maybe even yellow? The graphite and black and white and occasional daub of champagne gold is really low-key. How about some colour, ladies and gentlemen of Amazon? Even if it is only on a few select models. Why cannot a Kindle be a style statement?