Since our last major release back in September 2012, the Amazon Silk team has been working hard to make the browser faster and more responsive. A lot of our improvements have happened under the hood, so you may not have noticed the last few software updates. But with our latest release, the browser has a new look!
Based on feedback from Kindle Fire owners, we redesigned the user interface to make the browser easier and more intuitive to use. Among the changes, you’ll find a new tutorial, redesigned tabs, improved browser controls, simpler navigation options, and easier access to our Reading View feature. We’ve also published a Silk Developer Guide to accompany the release.
Our goal with the Silk redesign is to provide a faster, more fluid, and more elegant browsing experience to help customers discover and rediscover the content that matters to them.
Here are some highlights from the new design.
The first time you open Silk on your Kindle Fire, you’ll see the new Just-In-Time (JIT) tutorial.
The tutorial points out a few key features in the new user interface. For example, the left panel includes links to your Most Visited pages, Bookmarks, and History. The Action menu presents a number of features, including one-button access to share content via email or other applications and a search option that makes it easy to look for specific words on a page. And the Reading View button activates an elegant reading experience, free from distracting links or advertisements.
When you’re ready to close the tutorial and start using the browser, just tap OK.
Redesigned Tabs (and Other Improved Controls)
Silk has a new start page, which opens when you select the Silk browser from the Carousel or when you tap Web.
The start page opens a new tab with an empty address bar, ready to browse. It also shows links to your most visited pages. Our user studies showed that “most visited” links and direct URL entry were the two most commonly used navigation methods in the old Silk interface, so we made them both prominent in this new tab view.
To bring up the keyboard, just tap the address bar.
In redesigning the UI, we also learned that the old tab bar was too flat, making it unclear where one tab ended and another started. Some users found it confusing to switch between tabs, so we changed things up.
The new tabs have rounded corners and more depth so that they stand out more clearly from the background.
The other browser controls are friendlier now, too. We redesigned everything from the new tab and refresh buttons to the text in the address bar.
We think these changes will make it easier to move among pages and open new ones. Silk customers browse the web in all sorts of unique ways, so it’s important that the navigation be simple, intuitive, and highly usable. That’s the philosophy behind this redesign.
Silk offers a Reading View that provides an immersive reading experience. The idea is to reduce clutter and minimize visual noise.
Web content is often surrounded by related links, advertisements, and other competing material. With Reading View, content is elevated above the clutter. When Reading View is turned on, Silk loads the body of the page in a reading-optimized, single screen—even for multipage articles. The full page is still available in the background, so you can easily return to a traditional view to see the whole page.
Reading View was available in previous versions of the browser, but some of our customers weren’t aware of the feature. So in our redesign, we made it easier to find.
When you tap the Reading view button, you’ll see the page as follows:
To exit Reading View, tap the X.
We’ve also improved Full Screen view, so that customers can enjoy a simple, uncluttered reading experience in this view as well. To enter Full Screen view, just scroll down the page. Full Screen view still shows links and ads, but you won’t see the browser chrome at the top and bottom of the screen. To exit Full Screen view, tap the nub at the bottom of the screen or scroll down with a bit of acceleration.
Left Panel Menu and Navigation Pages
The new Silk UI features a left panel menu with options that were previously scattered across the browser. To open the left panel menu, either tap the upper-left button or edge-swipe from the left side of the device.
The menu opens in a panel on the left side of the screen. Here you’ll find links to your favorite content: Most Visited, Bookmarks, Downloads, History, and Trending Now. You’ll also see links to Settings and Help.
Let’s look at one of the redesigned navigation pages, Bookmarks. You can bookmark a page by opening the Action menu and tapping Add bookmark. Bookmarked pages then appear on the Bookmarks page, which you can view in two ways. If the slider in the upper-right corner of the Bookmarks page is positioned to the left, you’ll see a single column of digest-style bookmark entries.
To switch to a grid view of your bookmarks, flip the slider to the right.
You can add additional bookmarks by tapping Add.
We won’t review all of the revamped navigation pages here. We think you’ll have fun discovering them in the redesigned interface.
In addition to a new user interface, this latest Silk release also benefits from performance enhancements to the underlying rendering engine. We have been working diligently to make Silk faster and more intuitive, and we’re creating features to make Silk the best way to discover the web.
Of course, these improvements are just a start. We’re in the early days of Amazon Silk, and there’s plenty of work still to do. Our goal is continuous improvement. With that in mind, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of Silk. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.