Amid all the excitement about its new Kindle Fire HD devices yesterday, one thing Amazon failed to mention is the new version of its Silk browser installed on the tablets. There are a number of meaningful improvements in the update, like better support for HTML5 web standards and an improved UI, but the biggest difference is speed — "at least a 30 percent reduction in page load latency," according to the company.
Silk is a so-called "split" browser, using Amazon’s servers to compress and simplify websites before they’re served to the user. While it speeds up the browsing experience, it also means Amazon can see anonymized data about the pages its users are accessing. As pointed out by TechCrunch, the updated version of Silk adds a Trending Now section in blank tabs, showing which pages are currently the most popular with its users. It doesn’t mark a material change in how the company treats user data — when the original version of Silk was launched Amazon said it "observes user behavior acrosss a large number of sites," but being reminded of that fact every time you open a new tab isn’t exactly comforting. And for whether or not owners of the original Fire will be getting the update, the jury’s still out — so far the company says it isn’t commenting on future software plans.