The free upgrade, while relatively minor, delivers several enhancements that Kindle users have wanted for some time. A new Public Notes feature allows Kindle users to make book notes and highlights available to other Kindle enthusiasts. And Kindle e-books now have real page numbers that match those in printed books.
The preview release of version 3.1 is available here. Users of the latest (third generation) Kindle Wi-Fi and 3G models can download it now, or wait until Amazon pushes the software via Wi-Fi, although it's unclear exactly when that'll happen.
Version 3.1 makes Kindle more sociable. With Public Notes, you can opt-in to share literary observations with Kindle users you follow.
Kindle's new page numbers, rather than the cryptic 'location numbers' used previously, are sure to please Kindle fans in academia. It also eliminates an advantage held by competing e-readers. Ongoing gripes on Kindle's support boards show that this upgrade was long overdue.
Here are a few complaints from January 2010:
Kevin C. Key: "I have many friends who were initially excited about the Kindle as a way to carry university texts and research, but declared them useless because there is no way to make standard references to the work in scholarly work."
Juba Lee: "I bought a Nook just so I can have page numbers. At least they should give us the option!"
And [David' wrote: "I definitely agree with all the other posts regarding the annoying lack of page numbers on the Kindle. This is absolutely absurd! The Kindle is useless to students, educators and scholars who have to reference page numbers of a text when doing scholarly work."
Kindle users can now share passages via social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter. And a new layout for newspapers and magazines is designed to simplify navigation of periodicals.