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Updated @ 3:10pm. That’s it, folks. The Fire Phone looks neat, but a lot of that technology seems like a gimmick. Until I get to use the device myself, I’ll remain skeptical. Still, the pricing model and standard 32GB of storage puts even more pressure on Apple to up the specs on the next iPhone. If Amazon delivers on its promises on July 25th, the smartphone industry is going to get a lot more interesting.
Updated @ 2:27pm. So, the Fire Phone as a bunch of snazzy new concepts. It has a feature called “Firefly” that allows you to scan real-world objects, and order them from Amazon. Even better, you can scan art, and get more info from Wikipedia. Also, Amazon announced “dynamic perspective” — the head-tracking feature we’ve heard so much about. It looks neat, but it’s a bit gimmicky.
Updated @ 1:56pm. We finally have a close-up look at the new Fire Phone. It sports a 4.7-inch screen, has a quad-core CPU (probably a Snapdragon 800), Adreno 330 graphics, and 2GB of RAM. It looks like this is quite a powerful little device.
Updated @ 1:40pm. The event is starting now. We’re only moments away from seeing what Amazon has to reveal today. Will it really by a 3D smartphone? Will we see an update to the Kindle Fire tablet as well? Stay with us as we update live as we find out more information, and get pictures from our reporters in the field. Let’s just hope it’s not another boring Android phone.
Today, Amazon is set to reveal its new smartphone to the world. At 1:30pm Eastern time (10:30am Pacific, 6pm UK) we’ll finally get to see what Amazon has been working on all this time. It’s almost certainly an Android-derived device, but we’ve been promised something a lot more exciting than just another smartphone — something with some kind of 3D display. Now, it’s time to see if Amazon can actually deliver on the hype. Amazon won’t be streaming the event for some reason, but we will update this story as a live blog once the event begins.
Updated @ 3:03pm. You can pre-order today, and it’ll ship on July 25th. Even better, a full year of Amazon Prime is included with purchase of the phone. Nice!
Updated @ 3:00pm. Available with a 2-year contract, or with AT&T’s “NEXT” program. It’s $27/month with NEXT, but there is a $199 down payment for a 32GB model on traditional contract.
It can stream video to the Fire TV. That’s a no-brainer. Voice search works as well — a Siri competitor.
Updated @ 2:55pm. Unfortunately, it’s AT&T exclusive. Looks like the WSJ was right. Bummer.
Updated @ 2:50pm. Amazon is promising that porting from vanilla Android is super simple, and can can even be done without reading the API documentation. Hmmm….
Updated @ 2:47pm. By tracking X, Y, and Z axes, its easier to reliably detect faces, and track head movement.
Updated @ 2:43pm. The Fire Phone might actually be a terminator.
Updated @ 2:40pm. To execute on the dynamic perspective tech, the front-facing camera’s field of view needed to be wider. For reliable depth data to be gathered, Amazon needed a second camera. Unfortunately, users would often block the lenses depending on hand position, so Amazon added two most front-facing cameras for a total of four. It needed to work in the dark, so there is an IR light as well.
Updated @ 2:37pm. Amazon has been working on head tracking for four years, and only now is it ready for prime time.
Updated @ 2:35pm. Third parties can built widgets for the carousel now. Smart.
The carousel is updated to better fit the phone UI. Answer mail right from the main screen. Cool idea, but could be dangerous for workaholics.
Updated @ 2:30pm. Touch-free control is pretty neat. Simply by moving around, you can interact with the UI. Might be best suited for AR games.
By tilting, you can bring up new information, or even scroll a page. The Wii U has something similar to this idea with its gamepad.
Updated @ 2:23pm. “Dynamic perspective” is what Amazon is calling its head-tracking implementation. Supposedly, it’s more than just a novel trick. We’ll see.
Updated @ 2:21pm. Bezos is now talking about dynamic 3D. Here we go!
Updated @ 2:17pm. The SDK is available today, and third-party devs can use Amazons data, or add their own. Custom actions can be made quickly as well. Maybe people will actually start targeting Amazon devices instead of generic Android devices.
You can launch Firefly from the lock screen or from any app with a dedicated button. Seems like it could be really useful if it actually works.
Updated @ 2:15pm. Wow. Firefly isn’t just for buying stuff. It also can recognize art, and show you information from Wikipedia. It recognizes over 100,000 objects, and uses Amazon’s cloud for the image processing. Clever.
Updated @ 2:12pm. It has Shazam-like tech as well. Can listen to a song, and allow you to order an MP3. Scooping a rumored feature from Apple. Works on TV shows as well. If it actually works as advertised, that could be amazing.
Updated @ 2:10pm. Amazon is adding a new feature called Firefly. Using the camera, you can recognize physical objects like books. Once you’ve scanned an object, you can then order it at any time.
Mayday feature is being added in. 24/7 support — for free.
Updated @ 2:05pm. Just about everything you’re used to with the Kindle Fire is here too. X-Ray, second screen, and third-party apps a all supported.
The phone has dual stereo speakers. Hopefully it’s a lot louder than the iPhone.
Updated @ 2:00pm. Has an impressive 4.7-inch display, quad-core 2.2GHz CPU, Adreno 330 graphics, and 2GB of RAM. The camera sports a 13MP sensor, an f/2 lens, and optical image stabilization. Even better, there is unlimited cloud storage for photos.
Updated @ 1:55pm. Now announcing the Fire Phone.
Updated @ 1:53pm. Amazon wants to build a better phone. Sure, who doesn’t?
Amazon is all about brand recognition and customer satisfaction, so it seems. It’s a nice way to present your company, anyway.
Updated @ 1:50pm. There are now tens of millions of Amazon hardware owners. It’s good to reflect on the fact that they were just a book retailer not long ago.
Updated @ 1:45pm. Recaps and charts. Ugh. Prime took off starting in 2011 — tens of millions of users. Obviously, instant streaming was a huge driving force for that. We get it. Amazon generates a lot of revenue.
Updated @ 1:42pm. Bezos is on stage now. Finally.
Updated @ 1:40pm. Here we go, everyone!
Updated @ 1:20pm. Press is inside now.
What to expect from Amazon’s smartphone event
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal claimed that Amazon’s new phone will launchexclusively on AT&T in the United States — mirroring the exclusive launch of the iPhone in 2007. If that’s true, large swaths of the public won’t be able to buy into Amazon’s platform. For example, I live in an area with absolutely zero AT&T coverage, so this rumored device sounds like a nonstarter for me. Even so, wider carrier support is bound to follow sooner rather than later. Amazon is in the business of selling its products to as many people as possible, so any exclusive deals are bound to be timed.
In the teaser video embedded above, you can see that Amazon is banking heavily on the novelty factor. While the device remains out of frame the entire time, we can gather a few ideas from the reactions. It’s obviously a handheld device, and it’s almost certainly the long-awaited Amazon smartphone. As rumor has it, the device is actually using upwards of six cameras to track your face and eyes. By gathering all of that movement data, the phone can theoretically deliver a convincing 3D image wherever your head moves. Even better, there should be no need for bulky 3D glasses.
Whether or not Amazon can actually deliver a worthwhile 3D smartphone is still up in the air, but the event will be fascinating one way or the other. Stick with us as this post is updated live throughout the entire launch event, and decide for yourself if you should add the Amazon smartphone to your wish list. The event kicks off at 1:30pm ET, so check back frequently for the latest news.