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Amazon Refreshes Kindle Android App

The e-book smartphone app gains social networking with the inclusion of the Shelfari book network and adds screen orientation lock and full text search.

Amazon Kindle
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Amazon Kindle
Amazon has released an upgrade to its Kindle for Android application, adding a link to the books-focused social network Shelfari to the software that lets users read and buy e-books from the online retailer through an Android-powered smartphone.

The upgrade, released Thursday, also makes it possible to search the full text of e-books by voice or text, to look up words and phrases in Wikipedia and to lock screen orientation in portrait or landscape mode. But the Shelfari connection is particularly interesting because of its nod to social networking.

The new release makes it possible to easily view additional book details from Shelfari on smartphones running the Google operating system. Readers can find descriptions and reviews of books and can also view discussions by the Shelfari community on works. Amazon has added social networking features before to its Kindle software. In May, the company released an upgrade to for the Kindle e-reader hardware that made it possible for people to share e-book passages with friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Before the release, Amazon limited the 3G wireless connection that comes with the Kindle to accessing the company's bookstore. However, how far Amazon can go in tying the Kindle to the web remains to be seen, given that the device as it exists today does not have a fully functional web browser.

Other new features announced for Android phones include the ability to add notes and highlights to books and have them synchronized with Kindle apps on other devices, such as a notebook, Amazon's Kindle e-reader or Apple iPad.

Amazon offers more than 700,000 e-books for users of its Kindle application, which is also available for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, as well as a Windows PC or Mac and BlackBerry smartphone from Research In Motion.


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