Amazon’s Fire tablets get Blue Shade, a new feature designed to save your eyes …

3 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amazon Fire Tablets Get Expanded Parental Controls, Plus A “Blue Shade” Feature For Better Nighttime Reading.

Now Amazon has begun to roll out a feature known as ‘Blue Shade’ on its Kindle Fire tablets which limits the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes. The Amazon Fire tablets’ blend of affordable pricing and its killer FreeTime parental controls have long made them a top choice for a child’s tablet—I picked one up for my daughter just last year, in fact.An update rolling out now to owners of Amazon Fire tablets promises more features aimed at allowing parents to better monitor and manage their children’s screen time, as well as a new “Blue Shade” nighttime reading mode that will allow you to comfortably read while reducing the exposure to the artificial blue light emitted by electronic devices like tablets that has been shown to cause sleep disturbances. As part of its first major update for Fire OS 5, Amazon is bringing a brand new feature called Blue Shade — which alters display color and brightness for optimal nighttime reading — to its line of Fire tablets. Studies have proven that light – and in particular, blue light – can keep our pineal gland from releasing melatonin – something it does a couple of hours before bedtime.

Neuroscientist Dr Anne-Marie Chang, whose research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said screens have an ‘extremely powerful effect’ on the body’s natural sleep pattern. Known as Blue Shade, the new setting aims to improve reading conditions in dark or dimly lit environments by both shifting the color temperature of the screen away from the blue end of the spectrum and dimming the brightness — including an ultra-low level for completely dark rooms. Smartphones and other gadgets used before bed can cause restless nights because their light causes melatonin suppression – a chemical which controls the body clock.

To remedy that, Blue Shade will utilize specialized filters to limit blue light exposure and allow users to easily add warmer filters and bring brightness to their desired levels for reading at night. Amazon teamed with Common Sense Media to hand-pick more than 40,000 curated websites and YouTube videos for children, which can all be accessed for free via the FreeTime browser. Blue Shade is very similar to f.lux, a popular tool that lets users alter the displays of their computers and iOS devices to match the color of the room they’re in. Fire tablet owners can fine-tune the color settings to their personal preference, and the device will “intelligently” adjust the filtering so that blue light is always suppressed.

The same distraction, however, proved too much for caffeine users, who performed poorly. ‘Blue light and caffeine demonstrated distinct effects on aspects of psychomotor function,’ said the authors of the report. ‘It has the potential to positively influence a range of settings where cognitive function and alertness are important.’ ‘Our most surprising finding was that individuals using the e-reader would be more tired and take longer to become alert the next morning,’ she said. If your kid’s outgrowing the confines of FreeTime—which is mostly designed for younger children—but you don’t want to grant them unfettered, unmonitored access to the wild, wild web, you’ll want to check out the Fire tablets’ new Activity Center for parents.

With “Blue Shade” enabled, the tablet will instead offer warm color filters and the ability to lower the display brightness to an “ultra-low” level for comfortable nighttime reading, Amazon says, even in a dark room. The circadian rhythm, which also determines if we are a ‘morning’ or an ‘evening’ person, is regulated by the senses, most importantly the way the eye perceives light and dark. While it won’t let you lock down your child’s experience, Activity Center will let you visit a secure webpage on any device to peruse how much time your child spends playing games, watching videos, and reading on her tablet. Blue light, which is emitted by the low-energy light-emitting diodes used in smartphones, tablet computers and laptops, is known to be particularly disruptive to sleep.

According to an Amazon spokesperson, while the new features are solely being deployed to existing Bellini builds in the next few weeks, last year’s tablet lineup — the Fire HD 6, Fire HD 7, Fire HD Kids Edition, and Fire HDX 8.9 — will see an upgrade to the latest Bellini build in “the coming months.” Amazon’s Fire OS is an Android fork, meaning that it is based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) specifications and is compatible with Android apps, but does not include any of the so-called Google Mobile Services, which require Google Play to function. The story behind the story: Where the Fire Phone went the gimmicky route and failed miserably for it, Amazon’s focus on its tablets has been to deliver features that are truly useful to customers, and it’s paid off. Amazon, historically, has led the way on this front having introduced a robust series of parental controls called FreeTime into its software, which allow parents to configure time limits, set bedtimes, limit access to games and other non-educational content until certain goals (like reading X number of pages in a book) are met, and more. The browser will offer a curated selection of 40,000 age-appropriate YouTube videos and websites which Amazon says have been hand-selected by its team of experts.

Amazon’s Fire tablets may not be flashy, but they’ve been some of the best-selling Android tablets since the very day they’ve launched, and earlier this week Amazon boasted about record Fire tablet sales over Black Friday weekend. Now the company is expanding its parental controls feature to be more relevant to those with older children who don’t need as much active monitoring.

Paul Gray, an analyst at the business research firm IHS, said: ‘We’ve been told from a very early age by parents that too much screen time, in front of a TV or a computer, is bad. So a “safe” screen might resonate with consumers.’ Serge Picaud, at the Institute of Sight in Paris, said: ‘We should not be so afraid that we bin all our screens. But instead of blocking a child’s ability to use the tablet, the Activity Center is more focused on keeping parents informed so they can step in and talk to their child if they see a problem, or are concerned about the type of content their child is viewing.

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