What Is the Mic on a Kindle For?

by Jennifer Leighton

Two different Kindle family devices have microphones, but the purpose is only known for one of them. The purpose of the microphone on the third-generation Kindle with keyboard is something of a mystery. When the device was released in 2010, the inclusion of the microphone was confusing for some because Amazon mentioned its existence briefly in the Kindle user guide and on the Amazon website, but didn't explain its purpose. The microphone wasn't enabled at the time the Kindle shipped in 2010, and later shipments of the device continued to feature a disabled microphone. Amazon states no official use for the mike. The Kindle Fire HD, a newer Kindle family device that comes in both 7-inch and 8.9-inch sizes, does have a working microphone. Amazon does not specifically discuss the purpose of the microphone in its Kindle Fire HD user guide, but the company does encourage users to try Skype for video calls.

Third-Generation Release

The Kindle third-generation was released in August 2010 to brisk sales. The microphone, located next to the headphone jack, was quite small and didn't garner a great deal of attention from buyers or the media. However, some did question the purpose of the microphone since it was clearly disabled. The microphone jack has been presumed to have some future function like phone calls, video conferencing via a service like Skype, or voice-guided book navigation of some type -- but Amazon doesn't acknowledge any of these as potential uses. Media probed the purpose of the microphone, but no certain conclusions were reached, as Amazon was largely silent on the matter.

Current Status of Third-Generation Kindle Microphone

Amazon has not made any public statements regarding the Kindle microphone in the years following its initial release. As of April 2013, the Kindle microphone is still disabled, and Amazon still officially states that the microphone jack is there for future use.

Kindle Fire HD Microphone

The Kindle Fire HD, which debuted in 2012, is an upgraded version of the Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire HD is made in two sizes and in both 4G and Wi-Fi only models. The microphone placement -- slightly above the camera -- and purpose on all models of Kindle Fire HD devices is identical. The microphone is not identified in the Kindle Fire HD official quick-start user guide diagrams, nor is the purpose of this feature specifically addressed in the Kindle Fire HD user guides that are accessible on the devices themselves.

Amazon Statements on Fire HD Microphone

Amazon has said very little in relation to the microphone on the Kindle Fire HD officially; however, it is mentioned indirectly in the "Front Facing Camera" section of the Kindle Fire HD user guide on the Kindle Fire HD devices. The front-facing camera is identified as being specifically for taking photos, creating videos, and making video calls via Skype. Amazon has not made any official statements regarding the Kindle Fire HD microphone as of April 2013. However, Amazon representatives do state that the primary purpose of the microphone is use with Skype. The Skype app comes installed on Kindle Fire HD models.Other apps that Amazon does not specifically endorse use the microphone successfully, including several third party apps that incorporate sound recording and can use the microphone.