The Amazon Appstore is slowly expanding to become a notable addition to the Android landscape, and though the Fire Phone isn't getting much love from reviewers, it's certainly giving Amazon a reason to boost the Appstore's profile. The latest promotion makes 30 paid apps free, over a $100 value. While not all of them are must-haves, more than a few deserve your attention. This time around the focus is more on tools than games, but there should be at least one entry for everyone.
The Amazon Appstore doesn't have as many games as Google Play, but it sure knows how to give them away. In addition to the long-running free app of the day (today, Age of Zombies), the store regularly dishes out discounted games in mass. Today all but two of Disney's sixteen paid games are available for 99 cents each, with ten of them usually costing a couple dollars more.
Unfortunately Disney's $9.99 HD remake of Castle of Illusion isn't one of the ten discounted titles.
The Amazon Fire phone is interesting for a number of reasons. It's the company's first attempt at a smartphone. It crams Fire OS into a smaller form factor than it's had to accommodate before. It has five - yes, five - front-facing cameras, four of which serve as the backbone for what Amazon calls Dynamic Perspective. One thing the phone is not interesting for, however, is being a good deal (more on that below).
Amazon's Prime Music service, a free add-on for anyone who's already a Prime subscriber, launched to a resounding "meh." The app and service functions well enough, but with plenty of alternatives both free and paid, Amazon's boast of "over one million songs" rang somewhat hollow. As a Prime subscriber myself, I saw it as a nice perk, but it's no reason to stop paying for Google Play Music All Access as well.
You can wait on the new Shield Tablet later this month, sure, but Amazon is looking to tempt you with a killer deal on a 7-inch Kindle HDX with LTE. If you can make do with Amazon's unique take on Android, you can get $100 off the normal price at all tiers.
Last week Google released a sizeable update to Google Wallet that finally let you carry loyalty cards in digital form. Now Amazon has released its own version of... pretty much the same thing, minus all the other stuff that Google Wallet does. Amazon Wallet is currently in beta on both the Google Play Store and Amazon's own Appstore in a rare simultaneous release. Compatibility seems to be limited to phones at the moment, and since it's labeled as "for Fire Phone" on this promo page, it may be pre-loaded on that device.
Amazon wants you to buy its shiny new Fire Phone, and one of the biggest selling points is that fancy head-tracking camera system. So naturally, the first two games to come out of the company's home-bred Amazon Game Studios for the Fire Phone feature functionality that can only be done with that specific hardware. Unfortunately, both platformer To-Fu Fury (available now for $2) and Match 3 RPG Saber's Edge (free) exhibit classic signs of Kinect Syndrome.
Google Glass hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but it wasn't meant to. It and other projects under the "Google X" team were designed to be experimental, and we're still months away from seeing it hit a retail market at the very least. Even so, the news that one of the original architects of Glass is leaving for the distant shores (if not the greener pastures) of Amazon is a little disheartening.
We've been talking about Handy Apps' newest app, Expense IQ, and how it can help users be more aware of their finances, budgeting, save money, etc. But we haven't yet looked at one of EIQ's best features: Cloud Sync. This is an extremely important feature, as it not only makes moving data to a new device easy, but it also keeps a backup safe in the cloud (in your Dropbox account) and makes all info available across multiple devices.