A new version of Silk

Psst! Remember us?

Roughly 344 days ago, we debuted this blog to announce the launch of our new browser, Amazon Silk. We originally expected to publish a regular cadence of updates, but it turns out we were way more excited about working on the browser than writing about it! Well, a few of us finally decided to take a coding break over Labor Day weekend to make sure we got the word out on some exciting news.

Today in Santa Monica, we announced the release of the latest additions to the Kindle family, the new Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD. These new devices come preloaded with a new version of the Silk browser. What’s new you ask? Let’s take a look.

Page load speed – On our internal benchmark test, the new version of Silk registers at least a 30% reduction in page load latency as compared to the prior version on the original Kindle Fire. How do we define that benchmark? We run tens of thousands of iterations across a common set of real “archetype” web sites in our labs. These tests are run simultaneously, ensuring that our results are not skewed by variations in dynamic site content.

Improved HTML5 support –The new version of Silk registers twice the HTML5 compatibility score of the original version, as measured by html5test.com. A few of the key improvements include:

  • Improved form and element support – including full support for field types such as keygen, output, progress, and meter
  • Geolocation – for location-relevant web apps and web content
  • IndexedDB – support added for the Indexed Database API, in addition to the previously supported Web SQL Database
  • Web workers – allowing web applications to spawn background processing jobs
  • Web notifications – for sending alerts to end users

Our developer customers have made clear that we need to continue to push ourselves on this front, requesting such features as in-browser access to the device camera. Look for more improvements in this area in the months ahead. And don’t hesitate to add comments on what missing capabilities are most important to you.

UI improvements – Our customers have provided some excellent feedback on their experiences using Silk. Regarding our UI, particularly the new tab view, a couple of common themes have emerged:

  • After even limited usage, the start page becomes littered with screen captures (i.e. images of the web pages you’ve visited). Eventually, the utility of quick access to most visited and bookmarked pages is lost amid the clutter.
  • Intermingling bookmarks and most visited sites in the same view is confusing, with many customers unclear as to what exactly they were seeing on the new tab.

The screenshot below illustrates these issues:











As you can see, the view we provide when a new tab is created in Silk is a mix of most visited sites and bookmarks. In this example we see a bookmark for Amazon alongside a screen capture for ESPN, one of the customer’s frequently accessed sites. The lack of labeling or useful filters on this screen has caused confusion as to what precisely is being presented.

With today’s launch, we’ve introduced a new, more intuitive start page with better navigation elements, as shown below:

Your most visited pages are now clearly distinguished from other navigation options, making the sites you go to most the easiest to get to. We’ve also added simple top navigation to both Bookmarks and History. Besides addressing the obvious problem of intermingling bookmarks with most visited, this new design also addresses a customer experience problem we had not anticipated: how to find and manage browser history. The original Silk UI exposed browser history through the “more options” button, which proved to be undiscoverable for a large swath of our customers. History is now front and center, making it easy to clear out cruft or navigate back to a page of interest.

New features – The new version of Silk carries forward all of the features our customers liked best, including top tabs, full screen browsing, and our Reading View feature. We’ve also added two new content discovery features. The first is “Trending Now” (see the second shelf in the new tab view image above) which alerts our customers to pages that have experienced an unusual increase in their level of traffic, usually a good indicator that the page or topic may be particularly noteworthy right now. We also offer “Selected Sites” (shelf three in the new tab view) a selection of up and coming or otherwise noteworthy sites that our customers might find interesting.

So that’s what’s new in the new version of Silk. We’re excited to get this release out to our customers and hope you’ll let us know what you think.










24 Responses to “A new version of Silk”

  1. Will this new version be available for current (previous) Kindle Fire users?

  2. will we be able to download any of the new features on the original Fire?

  3. Will current Kindle Fire users be able to update to this version of Silk?

  4. Perfect. Amazon customer service at its best. Announces a slew of new products and at the same time announces updates for the older models. I had mostly stopped using Silk because of the extra (old) tabs it would open. Bring on the new version.

  5. don’t hesitate to add comments on what missing capabilities are most important to you

  6. Will this new version of Silk also be ported to the old version of the Fire?

  7. Are you going to update the silk on the old Fire… or do you have to purchased a new one..

  8. Does the new version still have flash support built in?

  9. What is the devicePixelRatio silk will run with on the Kindle HD 7″/8.9″?

  10. Hello, will the new version of the browser be available in an update to Kindle Fire 1.0?

  11. One feature I’d like to see is good debugging tools. Crossplatform mobile development can be hard when your code breaks in one browser and you don’t have a good means to figure out why.

    Also hardware accelerated everything. To make mobile apps that feel native this is a must.

  12. Looking forward to experience the new Silk. Will the Silk be available for non Kindle platforms in the future ? What about other HTML5 features around better graphics support.

  13. Will owners of the original Amazon Fire be able to upgrade to this new version of the Silk browser?

  14. Great news! The new start page looks awesome, fixes my exact problem with the current one. Will the original Kindle Fire be getting this new version in a software update, or is it limited to the new HD versions coming out?

  15. Will this new version of Silk be available for the original kindle Fire?

  16. Hi, Will this version of Silk be rolled out also to Kindle Fire 1st-gen or Kindle Fire 2011 users ?

  17. silk browser keeps crashing!

  18. i dont have a flash player under my slik setting:-(

  19. Dislike the Most Visited / Trending / Selected. I. do. not. care. about Trending/Selected. Hate getting thrown back to Starter when all I want is Bookmarks. Huge icons waste of real estate. Original Fire more functional than 8.9.

    Lack of Flash support makes many of my sites unusable. And inability to sync bookmarks between Fires unbelievable.

  20. can I load language fonts yet ? I’ve the first generation FIRE tablets that didn’t allow this. Looking to buy the fire HD, but this will be a stopper.
    Also the smugmug videos didn’t load on silk in FIRE.

  21. I’m a very disgruntled new owner of a Kindle Fire 7 HD.
    First, we find out after our purchase that Amazon is pinching pennies by not having Kindle compatible with Flash … smoothly and successfully used by millions of websites and deices around the world. Then, your proprietary browser rears its ugly head.

    This web browser is junk … and here’s why.
    No other systems recognize it!

    Specific example …. I got some DVDs recently that come with Ultraviolet digital versions available on THEIR (UVs) CLOUD.
    Problem is, when I access their site thru SILK … Yes, all my movies appear in my UV account, but when I click to play back, it says I need a Microsoft Plugin called either Silverlight or Moonlight in order to view it on my crappy Fire HD.

    Now the BIG issue. Even Microsoft doesn’t recognize this piece of SILK garbage! It says it doesn’t recognize the browser, and tries to come up with solutions of FIREFOX-Linux or Chrome-Linux. I have no idea what OS SILK is based off of, and neither do your helpdesk workers who searched you awesome helpsite for over 30 minutes before they finally gave up.

    If Amazon continues to insist on using garage-sale browsers instead of a globally functional one like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or IE …. the least you can do is have easy-access info on the helpsite to tell folks what OS the SILK browser is based-on, and what types of plugins we should be using.

    Any chance you actually have something helpful to offer so I can access my digital content from other vendors without paying an arm and leg to Amazon to increase the extremely limited “free” 5 GB of file space? This is why we customers need access to other vendor’s Cloud set-ups. Right now, I’m wishing I had purchased a Nexus. If you can be of any help, my e-mail is Luchta65@yahoo.com ….. or phone 262-251-1206. I’m guessing I never hear from you😦 -Formerly happy Kindle Owner Al Lucht

  22. I have the new Kindle Fire and was reading a newspaper on it when there was a video pop up that expended the article I was reading. Howeever it said I needed to download Acrobat Reasder to see the video. Kindle says it does not support this. How do I get to see the video in the paper let alone any other items further down the line that may require a Flash content?

  23. The soundcloud website does not work with Silk – Soundcloud works with other Android devices – Is there a fix on the way?

  24. So, does this one support the CSS box-shadow property? Or -webkit-box-shadow, even?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,388 other followers

%d bloggers like this: