Amazon unleashes the ‘3D-ish’ Fire Phone

Amazon Fire Phone launch

AMAZON OFFICIALLY GETS INTO THE SMARTPHONE BUSINESS WITH A BANG

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Amazon has introduced a new phone called the Fire Phone, it definitely has a ton of cameras on the front. It also looks quite a lot like an iPhone, with the phone’s front and back glass covered with Gorilla Glass 3 technology surrounded by  a rubber frame with aluminum buttons. Jeff Besoz the Amazon CEO  presented the 4.7 inch smartphone and expressed his obsession over the chamfer on the USB connectors.

The phone displays at 590 nits of brightness, with a circular polarizer so you can look at it outside with sunglasses on at any angle. On the hardware side it comes with a Quad-core 2.2GHz processor, Adreno 330 graphics. 2GB of RAM. 13MP rear camera with f/@2.0 lens and optical image stabilization. There’s a dedicated camera shutter button that launches the camera app. There are dual-stereo speakers with Dolby Digital plus surround. The earbuds are magnetic and look premimum with flat cables.

THE ‘3D’ EFFECTS FIRE PHONE

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The phones comes with “Dynamic perspective” something like we see on the iPhone lock screen, It will give you the depth effect even on the projection screen. The lock screens have some pretty wild and amazing 3D effects. There’s a clock sitting on a rock, covered in moss, with a forest behind it. It’s not “pop out at you parallax” 3D, it’s more like, well, “dynamic perspective.” It’s sort of 3D, but it’s sort of just giving you a clearer view as you move your head.

The different layers of the user interface move in relation to each other as you move the phone around. So you can move the phone around a little bit to catch small details, say like at the edge of a map. You can do some tilting to scroll within the web browser.

“Yes it has 6 cameras in total”

Amazon made special cameras with a 120-degree field of view. But you need more than one camera so you can know the “Z-depth,” i.e. how far away your face is from the phone. So you need two cameras. If you use the phone in total darkness, there’s an infrared light for each camera. 
fire fly_5The phone comes with four front facing cameras to do some face tracking. Yes it has 6 cameras in total and Amazon says, this phone shines a secret light at your face at all times and lets you buy anything you can see and always knows where your head is at. And people are worried about surveillance these days. Psh. Apparently Amazon also took millions of images of people’s faces to train its software, over the course of years. All this in the name of tracking faces, finding heads. The phone can tell the difference between a real head and a picture of a head on your mug. It knows that no human head is only two-inches tall, for example. All this work is just to get three numbers. The X, Y, and Z coordinates of your head. Which the Fire phone is watching. All the time. With hidden lights and multiple infrared cameras. Look I know this is amazing and cool and innocuous, but you have to admit it’s also terrifying.

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THE PHONE UI

Just like it’s tablet’s, the phone with a custom ‘forked’ version of Android called the Fire OS 3.5. There’s the standard carousel on the home screen, just like the tablets. But as you scroll through it, it gives you a preview of stuff inside the app on the home screen. You can pin stuff besides apps to the grid, like books or web pages. They’re “active widgets underneath the hero icons” It’s pretty but not very information-dense. Which is a design choice that Amazon’s users are probably going to be ok with, but it doesn’t quite feel like a “get stuff done” kind of work device.The music app has three panels. The left is navigation, the center is navigation, the right is a “delighter.”

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FIRE TV IN YOUR POCKET

On the services front, there is a Second screen and X-Ray will work on the Fire phone. So you can “fling” video from your phone to your Amazon TV. X-Ray gives you details on the video you’re watching.It’s like having Amazon’s Fire TV in your pocket. It’ll support ASAP, which predicts what you might want to stream and pre-caches it so it will start instantly. Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Espn — all on board. Thanks, no doubt, to the Amazon App Store.

Did you know Amazon has a new music service? It does! And obviously it works on this phone too. The company says that they have lavished attention on this phone for reading.

The CEO Bezos really hitting hard with the importance of the Amazon ecosystem. “This isn’t about hardware specs (or gimmicks), it’s about this being an Amazon phone with Amazon’s stuff. ” he said. Amazon’s MayDay live video stream customer care service is supported on the Fire phone. MayDay works on Wi-Fi or on 3G/4G. It’s “free,” but no word if it counts against your data cap.

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IN COMES THE FIRE FLY

The new firefly feature autorecognizes stuff the camera is looking at. It comes with a dedicated Firefly button.  Numbers, a book, a DVD, a QR code, CD, a URL, A game. It has lots of little glowing dots on the screen that arrange themselves on the screen to surround the objects they’re recognizing. It keeps a whole history of what you’ve scanned. Bezos is pointing out that it’s really quick and he’s right.

fire fly_8Firefly also listens to music and identifies the song. Firefly can also auto-recognize what episode of what show you’re watching on TV. Down to the scene. It also recognizes paintings and gives you the Wikipedia entry. “Firefly recognizes 100 million different items.” Bezos said.

Firefly uses Amazon’s cloud to do its computing. Wow the phone scrapes the image first so it can minimize the amount of data that has to get uploaded to the cloud for analysis. Amazon is releasing a Software Development Kit for 3rd parties to build their software into Firefly. There is also a MyFitnessPal that will give you nutrition information for food you point it at.

In what comes as no surprise the phone is only available in the US for $199 for a 16GB version today, and with no word on when the company will avail them to other parts if the world. We couldn’t bother holding our breathe here in Africa.

All Images courtesy of The Verge live blog
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