Jeff Bezos took to the stage earlier today to announce Amazon's first entrant into the highly competitive smartphone industry, the Fire Phone. Not only was the presentation loaded with some of the shiny new features of the handset and Fire OS, all meant for the press to disseminate to potential buyers, but there were also a few unusually blunt efforts to attract developers. In the midst of demonstrating Firefly and Dynamic Perspective, portions of the presentation were focused on explaining that developers would be able to extend these platform features in their own apps.
Update: Here's a video of the full press conference.
We've been hearing about Amazon's potential smartphone for what seems like years, but today it's finally real. At a super-exclusive Amazon event, Jeff Bezos talked about Prime, Kindles, FireTV, customers, some other stuff, and took wraps off of the company's first go at a phone. It is, as you may have guessed, an interesting one. It's packing some rather unique features, as well as top-notch hardware:
4.7" IPS LCD HD display "optimized for one-handed use" – 590 nit brightness, Gorilla Glass
Quad core 2.2GHz processor
Adreno 330 GPU
13MP f/2.0 rear shooter, OIS – instant access button, even with the screen off
Four front-facing cameras for dynamic perspective and a wider field of view
Unlimited photo storage (cloud)
Dual stereo speakers
Ships with non-tangle headphones with flat cable and magnetic buds
Oh, carrier exclusives, how we have missed thee. In this enlightened age when the flagship phones from Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola are all available on the Big Four American carriers, it's so easy to forget that some devices aren't. And just in case you needed reminding, it looks like the Amazon phone expected at tomorrow's press event is going to be an AT&T exclusive. So sayeth the Wall Street Journal, which tends to be spot-on with Amazon news.
Huawei is making an effort to extend its reach into the US market by selling to consumers directly. Last week the company put the Ascend Mate 2 up for pre-order on its site priced at an affordable $299. Now the handset is available via Amazon Prime as well, and it's shipping right away.
For the price, the Ascend Mate 2 is a monster of a phone. You're looking at a 6.1-inch 720 by 1280 display, a 13MP rear-facing camera, and a massive 3900mAh battery.
The Gear Fit has its share of problems, but it's still easily the best of Samsung's wearable watch-style devices so far. And one of the best reasons for picking one up over the larger and technically more capable Gear 2 models is the lower price. Now Amazon has given Samsung smartphone owners even more reason to lay their money down: a considerable discount on the Gear Fit.
If you've been paying attention to the tech rumor mill as of late, you probably know that Amazon has been planning to buff up its Prime subscription service with a musical component. The web retail giant flipped the switch last night, and now Amazon MP3 is Amazon Music. If you already have a subscription to Amazon Prime (which offers free 2-day shipping and access to Netflix-style streaming TV and movies), then you're now subscribed to Prime Music, the service's premium competitor to Spotify and Google Music All Access.
When the time comes to shop for ebooks, Amazon's Kindle Store is one of the first online destinations that comes to mind. Likewise, Audible, a company now owned by Amazon, is an easy recommendation for audiobooks. Thus far, people who own both the ebook and audiobook versions of a novel have had to hop back and forth between mobile apps to switch between the two.
Reading a book using the Kindle app vs listening to it via Audible.
Last month I took Amazon's Fire TV for a test drive and came away pretty damn impressed. It's a nice box with a lot to like – but there's also some pretty stiff competition in the streaming box arena. Companies like Google and Roku are both ready to take your money in exchange for enhancing an otherwise stale television experience.
Since there a variety of options on the market today, we decided to take four of the most popular and put them in a head-to-head deathmatch.
The Logitech Harmony Android app has received an update to version 3.3 that enables users to take control of their Sonos wireless HiFi sound systems from the comfort of their Android devices without having to switch back and forth between apps. The software should work from anywhere in the home and gives users control over volume, tracks, and playlists. It will also work with Amazon's spiffy Fire TV.
This provided screenshot comes from an iPhone, but the Android UI shouldn't look too different.
Might as well get your week started off right with some crazy good deals on storage for your devices. Today's Amazon Gold Box is full of SanDisk cards and drives for up to 79% off retail. Of primary interest to us are the microSD cards and microUSB OTG flash drives, but there's something for everyone.