Amazon Adds 'Mayday' Button To New Kindle, For Tech Support All The Time

Some people might worry that a tablet with a button just for reaching tech support is indicative of a tablet that will need…well, lots of tech support. But Jeff Bezos calls the new "Mayday" feature on Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX "the greatest feature we've ever made."

The new button appears in settings, where tapping it will take you to a live video support representative. Don't worry, you don't have to clean yourself up every time you have a problem with your Kindle. You're able to see the person on the other end, but they can't see you. They can also see exactly what you see on your screen, and draw on your screen in order to teach you or walk you through a problem.

"When beta users discover and use this feature, their jaws hit the table," Bezos said. "They are not expecting to have a tech support person appear on their screen, and once that happens they are not expecting the tech support person to actually draw on their screen."

Mayday makes for an interesting stand-in since Amazon doesn't have retail locations where it can send customers to its own version of a Genius Bar. Short of an actual human being beaming into your home to help out, the new button seems like the most convenient assistance possible.

Of course, for all the utility and coolness of the new feature, there are some obvious security concerns. The technician looking at your device has access to pretty much everything on it, including passwords. Amazon has said it will be sure to vet anyone filling those positions thoroughly, but that may not be enough to ease consumers' minds, especially with privacy the hot issue it is these days. (In practice, Amazon has access to anything stored on a Kindle anyway, but the Mayday feature makes it feel more personal.)

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX will be available as soon as October 18 and will cost $229, which puts it in head-to-head competition for price with Google's most recent Nexus 7 tablet. A 4G version will ship for $100 more starting November 14, roughly in line with an iPad Mini. But neither of them has that button.

For more:

- See this Puget Sound Business Journal story

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