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New Kindle Fire Tablets Will Track User Behavior Too

By - Source: TechCrunch | B 19 comments

The new Amazon Silk browser will sport a "Trending Now" feature that will show where Kindle Fire users are frequenting the most.

It's bad enough that the new Kindle Fire tablets – the revamped 1st-gen model and the three HD successors – will be ad-supported. No one really wants to see adverts on their screen when the gadget goes idle. Yet considering what the company has packed into the HD models, Amazon is seemingly looking for a little financial help from sponsors to keep the price point low. Consumers who don't want to deal with the annoyance can just stick with Google, Apple, or as Jane said on Thursday, import a new ad-free Kindle Fire internationally.

Now there's talk that the exclusive "cloud accelerated" Amazon Silk browser has received its own handful of improvements. These include faster page load speeds, better HTML5 support, an improved Start page, and loads more. It will also come packed with a feature called "Trending Now" that identifies which webpages are experiencing an unusual load of traffic, and notes that they may contain "noteworthy" information.

In other words, the new and improved Amazon Silk will now track user behavior more so than ever before.

Amazon Silk has essentially tracked user behavior since the launch of the original Kindle Fire last year – it just didn't publish the findings. As explained by Amazon, the browser would detect which website the user tended to visit more often, and then pre-cache the content in the cloud via Amazon Web Services and EC2. Thus, these most frequented sites would be delivered faster rather than pulling the information over and over from the website's original host.

This caching process, according to Amazon, is called Dynamic Split Browsing. "You can think of Amazon Silk as a small store for files you access," Amazon said back in 2011. "What we have done is create a limitless cache used to render the web pages you view every day. It does not take a single byte of storage on the device itself."

Now imagine all that data stored in Amazon's cloud and being used to push specific sites. So far there's no indication that Amazon Silk is actually aggregating personally identifiable information, but as TechCrunch points out, some of us like to know when and how their browsing habits are put to use. Some consumers may not trust Amazon at all, and want to opt out of the data collection altogether. This is where side-loading comes in: install an entirely separate browser like Firefox or Dolphin.

Outside the suspicious Trending Now feature, the new Amazon Silk supposedly registers a 30-percent reduction in page load latency compared to the original version. It also has twice the HTML5 compatibility score, showing improvements in form and element support, geolocation (yep, red alert there too), IndexedDB, web workers, and web notifications. In-browser access to the camera will come "in the months ahead," Amazon stated.

Should Kindle Fire users be wary of the Trending Now feature? Based on the description, it seems as if it's no better than Facebook and the way it tracks what you're reading no matter the location. Consumers should have the option of bailing out on any type of tracking feature, whether it's intentional or for improving a specific service like page rendering in Amazon Silk.

 

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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    icemunk , September 9, 2012 10:35 AM
    Another device to track my every move? *Looks across the rooms and sees his smartphone, his laptop, his tablet, his wife* Well.. at least I get a discount because of it this time.
Other Comments
  • 22 Hide
    icemunk , September 9, 2012 10:35 AM
    Another device to track my every move? *Looks across the rooms and sees his smartphone, his laptop, his tablet, his wife* Well.. at least I get a discount because of it this time.
  • 4 Hide
    scout62 , September 9, 2012 10:53 AM
    So if it's not storing anything on the device then the device has to download the whole page every time, sounds like a great data waster...
  • Display all 19 comments.
  • -1 Hide
    unksol , September 9, 2012 10:54 AM
    Quote:
    So if it's not storing anything on the device then the device has to download the whole page every time, sounds like a great data waster...


    The whole point is they compress/optimize it to save Data... How do you think it loads pages faster if it downloads more? Sigh....
  • -1 Hide
    unksol , September 9, 2012 10:55 AM
    And google aggregates your search results. This is not any different, nothing new, and has to be done for silk to work. Its a feature of the browser. No personally identifiable information is being used or released. If you're as paranoid as the author don't use it.

    Sure an incognito/inprivate option might be nice. But if you can't stand being away from your porn collection for a few minutes and need it on you're tablet that badly (and think anyone cares. Trust me we don't) use another browser
  • 5 Hide
    killerclick , September 9, 2012 11:09 AM
    unksolThe whole point is they compress/optimize it to save Data... How do you think it loads pages faster if it downloads more? Sigh....


    He has a point, and you don't understand how this works. If it doesn't take up storage on the device, then it must download from Amazon's servers.
  • 0 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , September 9, 2012 11:19 AM
    There needs to be custom firmware for this thing with a really easy installation method so that everyone can get the hardware at a low price and then :kaola:  Amazon after throwing their crappy ad-supported garbage out of the device.
  • -5 Hide
    thecolorblue , September 9, 2012 12:03 PM
    FAIL
  • -5 Hide
    john_4 , September 9, 2012 12:07 PM
    This should spell the doom for Kindle Tablets but sadly most people are like sheep and have about the same IQ.
  • -2 Hide
    john_4 , September 9, 2012 12:32 PM
    amk-aka-PhantomThere needs to be custom firmware for this thing with a really easy installation method so that everyone can get the hardware at a low price and then Amazon after throwing their crappy ad-supported garbage out of the device.

    Better yet just don't buy the junk, get yourself a nice low priced Ubuntu friendly laptop wipe the Windows/FED tacking OS off and you are good to go.
  • 8 Hide
    Anonymous , September 9, 2012 12:34 PM
    I often wonder what cave people reside in ? I do not know of any credit card company, supermarket, or browser that does not track what people search or purchase. In terms of Ad's if you use the internet you know full well that almost every site contains an ad, google turned that into a great business and an art form. Also when was the last time you went to a movie or sporting event that was not ad supported.

    Amazon is taking heat IMO for no good reason and tech sites who are looking to attract readers so they can increase their own ad's and revenue are making a big deal out of nothing.
  • 8 Hide
    yelvington , September 9, 2012 12:54 PM
    They're not storing or tracking anything that wasn't stored and tracked all along. Nothing to see here. Move on.
  • 1 Hide
    andrys , September 9, 2012 3:08 PM
    There's always been an option on the Kindle Fire to not use the accelerated Silk option using the special cache activity that sends the usage information back to their servers. I use that option and also enjoy the Dolphin browser, since Amazon allows people to install apps from 'unknown sources' (B&N does not allow that.)
    I was at the press conference Thursday and tried the Kfire HD and saw that the option to install apps from unknown sources can still be enabled.
  • 1 Hide
    bllue , September 9, 2012 4:16 PM
    This isn't new. Apple does it, they go a step ahead and track your GPS location
  • 1 Hide
    teh_chem , September 9, 2012 5:06 PM
    icemunkAnother device to track my every move? *Looks across the rooms and sees his smartphone, his laptop, his tablet, his wife* Well.. at least I get a discount because of it this time.

    QFT

    The thing is, as an Amazon-user, they already know what you're buying because every transaction (and every item you view while logged in to your account) is saved.

    Given the comparable ipad 64GB with cell data is $830 from the apple store, I'm happy to see ads and have my purchases tracked (which they already do if you use Amazon) for $230 knocked off the purchase price of a comparable unit.
  • 1 Hide
    alextheblue , September 9, 2012 6:46 PM
    john_4Better yet just don't buy the junk, get yourself a nice low priced Ubuntu friendly laptop wipe the Windows/FED tacking OS off and you are good to go.
    So you don't use Google services or Android devices either then, I take it? Oh, and you should scrutinize all code personally before you compile it yourself. Can't trust Canonical (Ubuntu), you know. They're a corporation, and everyone knows corporations only exist for one purpose: preparing Earth for the arrival of their alien overlords.

    See if you're gonna be paranoid, at least do it right.
  • 0 Hide
    Kami3k , September 9, 2012 10:50 PM
    john_4Better yet just don't buy the junk, get yourself a nice low priced Ubuntu friendly laptop wipe the Windows/FED tacking OS off and you are good to go.


    Ron Paul 2012 amirite?
  • -1 Hide
    john_4 , September 10, 2012 2:35 PM
    Kami3kRon Paul 2012 amirite?

    It was on this site a while back and known that the NSA worked with MS on their last several OS releases.
  • -1 Hide
    GreaseMonkey_62 , September 10, 2012 6:26 PM
    Just buy a Nexus 7 and avoid all the Amazon crap.
  • 0 Hide
    alextheblue , September 11, 2012 12:48 AM
    GreaseMonkey_62Just buy a Nexus 7 and avoid all the Amazon crap.
    Right, like Google doesn't track anything or use targeted advertising. They sell everything on you they can, and pitch products to you on behalf of their advertisers. Where do you think the bulk of their revenue comes from? Selling software? Hardware sold at or near cost?

    Trending Now doesn't even include personalized info. It's "what's popular now" based on anonymous user trends.

    The Fire HD also has twice the storage at both price points. It has dual band MIMO wifi, and a better display (laminated, glare reducing). Lending library and Prime integration are also big selling points.