A new auto-scroll feature built into Amazon’s first Fire smartphone launched this week means the device could be an ideal ebook reader.
The Fire phone uses Dynamic Perspective, which is a new sensor system which responds to the way you hold, view and move the phone. For example, with auto-scroll, you can read a book without ever having to touch the screen by tilting the phone.
Many people use smartphones to read ebooks but this can prove to be an unsatisfactory experience because of the small screens and the constant screen swiping needed to turn pages.
The Fire Phone, which has a high-definition 4.7-inch screen, could change this experience into a smooth, seamless read that might even be preferable to reading on a dedicated e-reader such as the Kindle Fire that requires screen swiping to turn pages, although it depends, of course, on how well the auto-scrolling technology works.
In some countries, such as India, smartphones are far and away the leading device for reading ebooks.
Amazon has built the Kindle ebook store into the Fire and is running a limited-time offer of a year’s free Prime membership (worth $100) for phone customers. Fire Phone users will also get unlimited cloud storage for their photos.
A new Perspective
Dynamic Perspective is claimed to offer a form of 3D viewing. It uses four ultra-low-power specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs built into the front of the phone, a dedicated custom processor, real-time computer vision algorithms, and a new high-performing and power-efficient graphics rendering engine.
Its features include:
- One-handed gestures
Auto-scroll, tilt, swivel and peek for quicker, easier navigation and a better media and entertainment experience. For example, with auto-scroll, customers can read a long web page or a book without ever having to touch the screen; tilt in Amazon Music shows song lyrics; swivel instantly reveals quick actions; peek in Maps shows layered information like Yelp ratings and reviews.
- Immersive apps and games
Dynamic Perspective enables a new class of apps and games that are more immersive and make it quicker and easier for the user to access information. For example, peek to instantly see close-up front and back views of a dress in the new Amazon Shopping app for Fire. In games, take on the character’s viewpoint and move your head to look around corners, obstacles, and other objects.
- Enhanced Carousel
Real-time updates, triage email, find recent photos, access most visited websites, return missed calls, view appointments, and more. Developers can customize the contents of their dynamic app and how it responds to user actions.
The Fire Phone uses Gorilla Glass 3 for the rear and front, aluminum buttons, stainless steel details and a rubberized polyurethane grip area. Amazon says the phone is optimized for beauty, hand comfort and powerful performance:
Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2.2 GHz processor and 2Gb RAM.
4.7-inch HD display with an ambient light sensor and Dynamic Image Contrast for better outdoor viewing.
Global LTE and connectivity with nine bands of LTE, four bands of GSM, five bands of UMTS for better voice coverage and faster data speeds, 802.11ac support, Wi-Fi channel bonding, NFC, and Bluetooth.
Dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus for a virtual surround sound experience.
Advanced imaging system with custom-tuned 13Megapixel rear-facing camera with backside illumination, LED flash, 5-element f/2.0 lens, Optical Image Stabilization, and high dynamic range capabilities. It also includes a 2.1MP front-facing camera. Both front and rear-facing cameras record smooth 1080p HD videos.
Reliable back-up and restore using Amazon Web Services and its cloud technology. Fire customers can automatically back up device settings, notes, bookmarks, messages, and installed applications without manually configuring or connecting to a computer.
Firefly lights up the showroom
The phone also incorporates Firefly, which is basically a sophisticated showrooming scanner app that’s not going to make Amazon any more popular with bookshop owners or retailers in general.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. says, “The Firefly button lets you identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and barcodes, artwork, and over 100 million items, including songs, movies, TV shows, and products—and take action in seconds.
“We invented a new sensor system called Dynamic Perspective that recognizes where a user’s head is relative to the device to offer customers a more immersive experience, one-handed navigation, and gestures that work.”
Amazon is also introducing the Dynamic Perspective SDK for developers to build new experiences with this technology. Details on the SDK are at http://developer.amazon.com/firephone.
Firefly features include:
Printed phone numbers, email, web addresses, QR, and barcodes
Firefly identifies printed text on signs, posters, magazines and business cards—make a call, send an email, save as a contact, or go to the website without typing out long URLs or email addresses.
245,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels
Firefly recognizes movies and TV episodes, and uses IMDb for X-Ray to show actors, plot synopses, and related content.
35 million songs
Firefly recognizes music and uses Amazon Music’s catalog to show information about the artist — play more songs, add them to a wish list, or download instantly to your Fire. Developers, such as iHeartRadio and StubHub, have used the SDK to build Firefly-enabled apps, so customers can create a new radio station based on the song or find concert tickets for an artist.
70 million products, including household items, books, DVDs, CDs, video games, etc
Access product details, add items to a wish list, or order on Amazon.com.
Later this year, Firefly will include artwork recognition, foreign language translation and wine label recognition, powered by Vivino.
Fire integrates access through Amazon to over 33 million songs, apps, games, movies, TV shows, books, audiobooks, and magazines, including thousands of exclusives.
Prime members get unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost with Prime Instant Video, over 500,000 books to borrow with the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and the all-new Prime Music—unlimited streaming and download of more than a million songs and hundreds of expert-programmed playlists — all at no additional cost.
It’s not cheap
The Fire Phone will be available from July 25 only in the US initially and exclusively on AT&T.
Amazon doesn’t appear to be following the Kindle route of selling hardware at minimal-profit prices and looking to make money on content sales, as Fire Phone contract-free pricing is set at a hefty $649 for the 32Gb model and $749 for 64Gb. On a two-year contract, the Fire Phone with 32Gb is available for $199, and $299 for 64Gb.