by James A. Martin

Kindle Touch Gets New Translation, Highlighting Features

May 18, 20123 mins
Computers and Peripherals

After switching to a Samsung Galaxy Note for reading e-books, blogger James A. Martin has returned to his Kindle Touch, thanks to a recent Amazon software update. Here's a look at the most notable new features and improvements.

I recently sidelined my Kindle Touch in favor of reading e-books on a Samsung Galaxy note. But’s recent Kindle Touch software update has me getting back in touch with my Touch.

In late April, rolled out Kindle Touch version 5.1.0 to add more language support. (For more on that, read “Kindle Touch Gets New Software Ahead of Global Launch.”) The software update offers support for plenty of foreign languages and other features that I’m enjoying.

One of my favorite new features is the ability to translate text from one language to another via Bing Translator. For example, while reading a book about the Titanic (yes, I’m still obsessing over that), I came across this French phrase: “Le plus grand transatlantique du monde fait naufrage pour sa première traversée.” (In late March, I reviewed the National Geographic’s Titanic issue on the iPad.)

I remembered enough of my college French to guesstimate the meaning–and frankly, in the context of the Titanic’s fatal plunge during its maiden voyage, it wasn’t too difficult to figure it out. To confirm my own translation, I highlighted the text in the book, clicked an on-screen “More” option, clicked “Translation” and then selected French as the “from” language and English at the “to.” Voilà, the translation: “The largest transatlantic of the world is sinking to its first crossing.” Okay, so it’s not 100 percent correct, but it’s still pretty good.

Kindle Touch translation feature

Landscape mode support, which has been available on other Kindles, is now an option on the Kindle Touch. I love landscape mode because it lets me prop up the Kindle Touch much more easily for hands-free reading.

The home screen now makes it easier to get where you’re going, with new drop-down menus for “My Items,” “Recent” and numbered screens, so you can quickly hop from, say, page one to page four.

The latest Kindle Touch software lets you browse a book’s table of contents without leaving the page you’re on. Love that.

You can now highlight text that spans multiple pages, too. When you got to the end of a page/screen in the past, you had to start a new highlight on the next page, a boneheaded user interface issue corrected at last.

Are you a fan of the Kindle’s text-to-speech feature? I’m not; the sound is way too robotic for me. But in addition to selected e-books, you can now listen to newspapers and magazines that support the feature on your Kindle Touch. I gave it a try with The Wall Street Journal and it worked as well as could be expected—meaning it was accurate but immediately irritating. says the new Kindle Touch update improves social sharing of e-reader content. But I still think the process is more trouble than it’s worth.

The Kindle Touch upgrade should keep fans of the e-reader happy for a while. Until July, at least, when a rumored new Kindle model with built-in backlighting—similar to Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch With GlowLight—is expected to debut.