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The Fire Phone has just been unveiled and it seems like one big party of goodies. It has interesting features such as Firefly, which uses the camera to recognise everyday objects like books, art, CDs, songs and product labels – and then show you how to buy them, and Dynamic Perspective, which creates the illusion of 3D visuals on the device.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who revealed the gadget on Wednesday, says the company has been in the hardware space for the last 10 years even though Amazon’s first product — the Kindle — was released seven years ago. How sneaky.
The 4.7″ smartphone carries Gorilla glass on both sides, with aluminium buttons on its left and right, one of which is a dedicated camera button. The 13MP rear camera is rather snazzy and has optical image stablisation and an F2.0 aperture lens.
Furthermore, the Fire Phone has a quad-core 2.2 gHZ CPU, 2GB RAM and is, according to Bezos, “fast and fluid”.
The Fire Phone’s extra front-facing cameras tracks the user’s head movements with geometric perspectives to create illusions of three dimensions. This feature was demonstrated showing off the Empire State Building. More interestingly, the Dynamic Perspective capability opens up room for experimental gaming.
There are also four front-facing cameras, which Amazon says can take “stereo images”. The IR camera will let the phone “see in the dark” and help find depth.
The cameras can recognise and track the user’s face. The “depth cameras” enables the Fire Phone to distinguish between a real face and a photo (think Android’s facial unlocking feature).
Users can also enable the gesture features, which will let us flick our wrists to add a late identification for a meeting, or swipe to mute a movie.
As Amazon is an online shopping company first, the phone won’t shy away from software features. Amazon’s lucky packet comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon prime and will share many of the Kindle Fire’s features. These include Second Screen, which lets you watch a video and get more information, X-Ray and Miracast with the Fire TV — the company’s set-top box.
The Fire Phone also has a unique Tilt feature which lets you unlock additional options, browse, open up menus and perform a bunch of other activities like reading an eBook without having to touch or type with the phone.
The Fire Phone will also support Prime music as well as rivals Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartMusic. Similar to what’s offered on the latest Kindle Fire, the online customer support feature Mayday will work with WiFi and 4G and promises a response in ten seconds or less.
Again, because Amazon is an eCommerce company first and foremost, it introduced a unique feature called Firefly. Press and hold one of the buttons on the side of the phone, and the device’s rear camera recognises everything from books, DVDs, QR codes, CDs and bar codes, and can then direct you a shopping option, or give you more information on the subject.
Bezos boasts that Firefly recognises over 100 million items, despite issues like wrinkles, glare and curves.
Not only is it a product recognition tool that makes connecting the physical with the online easier, it can also recognise songs and video. Bezos played a scene from Game of Thrones, which the phone recognised and then offered to sell it to you.
Amazon also launched an SDK, which will encourage third parties to leverage the technology for other services.
Contract prices listed on US telecom AT&T puts a 32GB model at US$199 and a 64GB model at US$299. The Fire Phone is available via for pre-order to US customers.