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New Kindle Fire Tablets Will Track User Behavior Too

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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  • icemunk
    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.
    Reply
  • scout62
    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...
    Reply
  • unksol
    9400732 said:
    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....
    Reply
  • unksol
    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
    Reply
  • killerclick
    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.
    Reply
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    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.
    Reply
  • thecolorblue
    FAIL
    Reply
  • john_4
    This should spell the doom for Kindle Tablets but sadly most people are like sheep and have about the same IQ.
    Reply
  • john_4
    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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply