Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kindlefish is Back! [Major Update]

The story so far is simple: Last year, I created a simple Kindle oriented Google Translate interface called Kindlefish. Last December, Google moved Google Translate to a paid service model and Kindlefish was broken. Two days ago, I started redeveloping the website and it's now up and running over at kindlefish.com.

The big news with this update is that it's completely new. From the ground up, this is a whole different approach and completely re-coded from the ground up. I'm still working on making the code more elegant, but for now it works on the Kindle Keyboard 3G. I will be rolling out fixes as we move forward and as K2/DX users help me debug the code for their particular browsers.

Everything has been redesigned, including the interface. You now get nice CSS based dropdown menus on the top and an even cleaner interface overall. If Kindlefish v2 was minimalistic, this new version is mnimlistc.  Interface options, such as input and output languages are now hidden when you're not using them and the "quick select" three languages has been jettisoned in favor of easier to use selector. I've reduced the amount of scrolling in this version, based on feedback from the older version.

Welcome back Kindlefish! After the break, a quick walkthrough of the new interface and website!

This is the new Kindlefish. The old interface (which you can still see here) is gone in favor of a lighter interface that hides elements like language selectors when they're not needed. What was a light interface is even lighter now.

Everything here is self-explanatory, except for the last item. Dialog mode automatically swaps the input and output languages after every translation. It's meant to be used in a situations where you need to hand the kindle back and forth to facilitate communication. There's also a button there to do it manually, which many people will find more convenient. As an example here, I'm going to translate "Welcome back" into Japanese. Right now, the output language is set to Spanish and to change that we first click on the Set Output Language button here.

This will bring up the language selector. Languages are broken into three selectors to minimize scrolling, which is important for older kindles. Select the language you want (in this case, Japanese) and then click "Set". The Language selector will disappear and we're all set to translate into Japanese!

That's it! A few seconds later and we have the translation on our Kindle in big, easy to read text. There is now a version of Google Translate that will work on the Kindle, located here, but the big disadvantage is that the text is tiny which means that it's much harder to share. Kindlefish is better suited for active travel.

If you are interested in knowing more, please check out the website! There's an about page with a FAQ located on the about page which should answer most questions.

A word about Kindles: I've had hands on with all of the Kindles from the DX forward and right now, the best Kindle for travel and power users is the Kindle Keyboard 3G. The Kindle Touch 3G is a close second: It wins for ease of use but it is also hamstrung by the fact that the 3G there can only be used to access Amazon and Wikipedia (while the Keyboard can access anywhere on the net anywhere in the world). These are the two Kindles you should be considering for serious travel and reading.

As for the other devices, the Kindle DX is still a great device with the same 3G, but unfortunately it is in need of software updates. It is missing fonts for non-Latin languages (it cannot display Japanese characters, for example) and I will need to tweak the code (most likely) to get it running on the DX. If would like to use Kindlefish with you wifi only Kindle, please be aware that Kindlefish requires an Internet connection. If you are not in range of a wifi access point that you can access, you will not be able to use the service. 


  1. Wow I didn't know there was Kindlefish. I may end up getting a Kindle now, I was thinking about getting a Samsung but definitely like the price of the Kindle better.

  2. Will it work with the new off-line Google Translate?

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