An Early Look at the Amazon Fire Smartphone

1 - An Early Look at the Amazon Fire Smartphone
2 - Meet the Amazon Fire
3 - Amazon Fire OS
4 - Icon Carousel
5 - Lightweight Materials
6 - In Profile
7 - Firefly in Action
8 - Firefly in Action
9 - The Ultimate Shopper
10 - Dynamic Perspective
11 - One-Handed Gestures
12 - Getting the Most From Maps
13 - A Win for Game Developers--and Gamers
14 - One-Handed Gestures
15 - One-Handed Gestures
16 - Amazon Fire in Summary
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An Early Look at the Amazon Fire Smartphone

by Michelle Maisto

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Meet the Amazon Fire

The Fire smartphone has a 4.7-inch In-Plane Switching (IPS), LCD HD display with "Dynamic Image Contrast" technology that makes for a great outdoor viewing experience. It also allows, in some instances, for a 3D-like experience.

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Amazon Fire OS

The Fire runs the Android-based Fire OS, which will be familiar to anyone who has used a Kindle Fire HD X tablet. On the tablet, a user swipes horizontally between most-used or favorite app icons. On the smartphone, Amazon has done one better, adding related content below the icon.

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Icon Carousel

Here is another view of the icon carousel, with related information below it, as well as typical bottom-of-the-phone fare: icons for email, messages, the phone and the browser (Amazon's Silk browser).

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Lightweight Materials

The Fire is made of plastic. While very light, it doesn't make for an expensive feel—which may not be what Amazon's biggest fans are after anyway.

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In Profile

On the phone's right side are up and down volume buttons and a third button that brings up the camera. Keep that camera button depressed, and Firefly is turned on.

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Firefly in Action

It's clear that Firefly is doing its work when little firefly-like lights begin to swarm an object and identify it, whether it's a box of lemon drops, a Spiderman DVD or a business card. In this case, Firefly grabbed the details and saved them to the user's Contacts.

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Firefly in Action

In the instance of the lemon drops, Firefly recognized what the box was and then made suggestions about what a user might want to do next—share the image, get nutrition information or go to its Amazon page.

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The Ultimate Shopper

Choose the latter option, and you can add the item to your Amazon cart or buy it with a single click.

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Dynamic Perspective

The 3D-like features the phone makes possible include uses like adding more texture, or context to maps.

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One-Handed Gestures

An Amazon representative said a big goal was to keep map results looking "clean." A user can search for something—for example, coffee, as we did here—and see dots for locations.

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Getting the Most From Maps

With a little flick of the wrist, however, those dots can offer up additional information. (The details slide out like a drawer.)

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A Win for Game Developers--and Gamers

The software development kit behind Dynamic Perspective has been shared with developers. So the same sensors that enable things like automatic scrolling, while a user is reading (the sensors watch where your eyes are on the page) can make possible fun games like this one, where the on-screen snowboarder moves with the user's head. A jerk of the chin (a more natural gesture than it sounds) makes the snowboarder jump.

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One-Handed Gestures

The same wrist-flick gesture used in Maps has perks on the Home screen. Flick left, and information relevant to the moment (calendar info, weather, etc.) is listed.

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One-Handed Gestures

Flick your wrist to the right, and a menu is opened up.

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Amazon Fire in Summary

Analysts expect the Fire will have a niche following of people who are big Amazon users. There are also perks for Amazon TV owners, as videos can be "flicked" from the phone toward a TV and begin playing. For anyone who's not a major fan of Apple, doesn't have a strong alliance to straight-up Android (the Fire does run Android apps), is a Prime subscriber and likes the idea of saving $99, the Fire is worth considering.

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