Amazon wants to help its customers read more comfortably at night.
The Seattle tech giant today announced a few new updates for its Fire tablets, including a feature called “Blue Shade” that adjusts the device’s backlight to make for a better reading experience in the dark.
Amazon notes that recent studies by the Harvard Health Publication show how nighttime exposure to blue light from electronic screens can reduce the amount of melatonin our bodies produce, which can affect how long it takes to fall asleep, as well as the quality of REM sleep. The new feature also extends battery life by up to 25 percent.
Here’s how Amazon describes “Blue Shade”:
Blue Shade uses specialized filters to limit exposure to blue light. It also offers warm color filters and the ability to lower the display brightness to an ultra-low level for comfortable nighttime reading—even in a dark room. The feature can be easily turned on or off with a single tap on the Blue Shade quick setting. Customers can also fine-tune the color settings to their personal preference, with the device intelligently adjusting the color filtering so that at any color or brightness, the blue wavelength light is always suppressed.
We’ve reached out to Amazon to see if “Blue Shade” is coming to Kindle devices and will update this post when we hear back. Update: An Amazon spokesperson said she was “unable to comment on our product roadmap” other than what was announced today.
The Fire OS update also includes “Activity Center,” a new compliment to Amazon FreeTime that lets parents monitor how their children use the Fire tablet. When enabled, “Activity Center” can show much time is spent playing video games, watching videos, or reading, for example. It can also show browser history and reveal which specific apps, books, or videos their kids accessed.
Speaking of Amazon FreeTime, which lets parents set time limits and ban kids from accessing certain content, the service also received an update with a new kid-friendly web browser that surfaces age-appropriate YouTube videos and websites determined by experts from Amazon and Common Sense Media.
The updates will roll out starting today and over the next few weeks for Amazon’s Fire HD 10, Fire HD 8, and other Fire tablets.
Amazon last week said that its tablet sales increased three-fold during the first holiday shopping weekend of 2015 compared with the year before, boosted in part by the company’s new $49.99 Fire tablet. Amazon is using the low-price strategy in a bid to grab market share from higher-priced devices from Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and others.