We know many Kindle Fire owners have been anxiously awaiting the announcements this week to learn if two of their most-wanted Kindle Fire features, Text-to-Speech (TTS) and Collections, would be included in some kind of firmware upgrade for existing KiLarndles. Kindle Fire Editor in Chief April L. Hamilton attended the press conference this week, and afterward posed these questions directly to Amazon Kindle Vice President Peter Larsen.
TTS Solutions For the Kindle Fire
Larsen stated that Whispersync for Voice and Immersion Reading are Amazon’s TTS solutions for the Kindle Fire family of products. He also said that the original TTS functionality is still there in Amazon’s new Paperwhite devices and all monochrome Kindles.
UPDATE: While Mr. Larsen did not mention it and Amazon isn’t promoting it, Text To Speech functionality is there on the Kindle Fire HD. See this post for more information.
9/7/12 CORRECTION: Either April misheard or Mr. Larsen misspoke – Paperwhite specs do not show a speaker, but the Kindle Keyboard 3G (currently priced at $139) and Kindle DX (currently priced at $379) both do.
Amazon is offering discounted pricing for Kindle book + Audible audiobook bundles in order to minimize the expense of the Fire TTS solutions. For example, Rob Lowe’s bestselling memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, is available at the usual retail price (set by the publisher) of $9.99. Adding the Audible audiobook after you’ve purchased the Kindle book is currently priced at just $3.95 more, as opposed to usual price of $14.69. So you end up getting both the Kindle book and the Audible audiobook for under $14: less than you’d usually pay for the audiobook alone.
Paying an extra four bucks to hear the book professionally read (in this case, by the author himself) doesn’t seem like such a bad deal, especially since doing so gives you access to the Whispersync for Voice and Immersion Reading services. Whispersync for Voice allows you to switch back between the Audible and Kindle versions of the book, and both formats will “remember” where you left off so you can pick up right there, whether switching from audio to Kindle or vice-versa.
For a limited time, you can test-drive the Kindle Fire TTS solutions for free with these Kindle/Audible book bundles. IMPORTANT NOTE FOR AUDIBLE MEMBERS: when you go to the Audible product page to ‘buy’ the free audiobook, by default, the box to “apply listener credit” will be checked off. Click the box to un-check it; you’ll still get the audiobook for free, and your Audible Listener Credit will remain unused.
When asked if Amazon intends to add the Collections feature to the Kindle Fire at some point in the future, he replied that while Amazon can’t share its business roadmap or discuss projects in development, the new FreeTime parental controls service is a type of Collection. He went on to say his department knows this is a feature Fire owners have been wanting, and there are some good things in the works.