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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hands-On With The Amazon Phone — Here Are All The Major Features


Amazon's new smartphone, the Fire Phone, hits stores July 25. Preorders started June 18.
At the phone's launch event, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that the company tried to build a phone that was extremely innovative and different.
There are some major features that set it apart right off the bat, including its "dynamic perspective" effects, which make images feel 3-D, its motion-sensing capabilities, and Firefly, its visual search engine. 
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
  • Amazon shows off its dynamic perspective feature right from the lock screen. When you tilt the phone, you see the balloons from slightly different angles so they feel 3-D.



  • Although you can use any picture you want as a lock screen, the Fire ships with more than a dozen custom images that will take advantage of dynamic perspective.

  • The Fire also shows off dynamic perspective working together with its motion sensors in games. To play a game, you can use a combination of phone and head tilts to control the action.

  • Generally, tilting the phone to the right or left displays more information. For example, if you're listening to a song, tilting left will bring up its lyrics.

  • The idea is to make one-handed use easier. You can bring up different menus by tilting the phone in the other direction.


  • You can also see this functionality in the map app. For example, let's say you search for nearby Thai restaurants. At first, you'll just see where they are in relation to you.

  • But tilting the phone slightly will bring up their names and Yelp info. Tilt back and that information disappears and you're back to an uncluttered view.


  • Firefly is one of the most innovative features on the Fire Phone. Press and hold the camera button on the side of the phone to launch Firefly, which can recognize over 100 million items.


  • Once an item is recognized, Amazon will pull up information about it. If it's a product, you can be directed to Amazon to buy it. Third-party apps can also build Firefly functionality, like MyFitnessPal, which pulls in calorie information if you scan a food.


  • Firefly also recognizes emails, phone numbers, and URLs from posters or pictures. If Firefly picks up on a website, you can easily navigate to it. Ditto with phone numbers: Firefly will prompt you to make a phone call.


  • The phone will save a list of all the things you've captured in your Firefly history, so you can refer back later.

  • Firefly can also recognize audio and ID songs. You'll be directed to buy a song on Amazon, but other apps like iHeartRadio and StubHub can give you other options, too, like making a playlist or buying concert tickets.


  • Firefly can also recognize TV shows and movies, and hook you up with info about specific clips that you're watching.




  • The Firefly button (which is also the camera if you press it without holding down) is on the side of the device.


  • Another big feature is the Fire's free, 24-7 video support. Simply press the "Mayday" button to summon a customer service rep, who can draw on your screen to help you through any questions that you have.

  • You can find Mayday, your notifications, and other basic functions with another gesture control that Amazon calls "the swivel".

  • All new phone owners get one year of Amazon Prime membership for free.

  • The Fire Phone also has a crisp, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera.

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