File Under: Browsers

Amazon Is Building a Better Browser for Kindle

Browsing the web on one of Amazon’s Kindle e-readers is like taking a step backwards in time. It’s clunky and has only limited support for web standards, and bare-bones JavaScript capabilities.

But now Amazon may be looking to add browser engineers to the Kindle team, according to the job listings on the company’s website.

A job posting for a browser engineer at Lab126, the division of Amazon that develops the Kindle, indicates the company is looking for somebody to develop “an innovative embedded web browser” for a consumer product.

The role at Lab126 includes designing new features for a new browser while supporting the existing code. Job requirements include familiarity with current web standards and web rendering engines, as well as experience with Java and embedded Linux, both of which the Kindle runs.

The Kindle’s current browsing experience is notably subpar. It’s good enough to check your e-mail, post to Twitter or read Wikipedia, but it doesn’t handle images or more complex web apps particularly well. It certainly doesn’t live up to the same vision of the mobile web being outlined by the iPhone, or Android phones like the Droid or Nexus One. And with the coming of the Apple iPad and other threats to Amazon’s dominant e-reader, which should behave on the web about as well as (if not better than) the iPhone, the Kindle had better improve its browser if the device is going to continue to compete with these more capable devices.

Amazon recently launched a beta program for third-party app developers who want to build software for the Kindle.

Apparently, the job listing has been up for a month, but I only became aware of it once CNET’s Stephen Shankland tweeted about it.

Calls to Lab126 and Amazon on Monday morning went unreturned. I’ll update this post if and when I get more information from Amazon or anyone else.

Meanwhile, if you have any advice about improving the Kindle’s browsing mojo, leave it in the comments.

Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Wired.com