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What you need to know about Amazon's Fire Phone

TechHive staff | June 23, 2014
We spent some time with the new smartphone from Amazon and can answer any questions you might have.

That's just one example, and Amazon has also released an SDK for developers to integrate Dynamic Perspective into their own apps. This could lead to all kinds of interesting applications, like games you control with your head, shopping apps that give you a 3D look at products, real estate tours that let you look around a room without strapping on virtual reality goggles--whatever they can dream up and build.

How do I use the Firefly feature?

It's a piece of cake! To turn it on, you just long-press the button on the Fire Phone's left side. It launches almost instantly, and you'll see what the back camera sees, with an overlay of little firefly-like dots whizzing around to show you it's ready. Then you just point your phone at objects--Firefly can recognize product packaging, books, CDs, video games, and movies thanks to Amazon's huge database. It works all around your environment, too: Firefly can recognize thousands of famous works of art, and if you tap the floating Music or Video buttons, Firefly will listen with its microphone and identify whatever song, movie, or TV show is playing, just like Shazam.

Firefly's speed is pretty astonishing, and as it recognizes items, it adds them all to a list. You can scan things back to back to back and pull up the list anytime. Tap on a result in the list to see potential actions: Obviously a lot of these are going to be offers to sell you that very thing on Amazon. If you Firefly a book cover, the list will have links to buy it in Kindle format, paperback, hardcover, Audible audiobook--whatever Amazon sells. But developers have a Firefly SDK to add deeps links to third-party apps, too. In our demo, when we identified a song, one option was to start an iHeartRadio playlist based on that song or search for concert tickets on StubHub.

Is the Fire Phone any good for reading books or should I stick with my Kindle for that?

People love reading on the Kindle because its e-ink screen is easier on the eyes for long reading sessions than a backlit LCD screen like you'd find on a phone or tablet. But Amazon is obviously wants the Fire Phone to showcase its content, and that definitely includes e-books. The screen has a maximum brightness of 590 nits because Amazon knows reading in bright sunlight is a pain point with most smartphones. We didn't get a chance to test it outside yet, but the Fire Phone's Kindle app looks like it should deliver a good experience.

Will the Mayday button from the Kindle Fire HDX make its way to the Fire Phone?


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