Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Meet The Amazon Fire Phone

Today was the day that Amazon unveiled the newest member of their digital devices family, the Fire Phone. While the device itself is quite neat, there are very few features that the Fire possess that aren’t already main stream in most mobile devices. The 4.7” display is clear and bright. The 2GB of RAM should power a few Apps on top of their customized Kindle-esque OS. The 32 and 64GB of storage should be enough for most people and the 13MP camera should be capable of capturing those family memories nicely. Those aren’t the interesting parts to the Fire in my mind though, and I hope most Windows Phone users agree with me.

The first feature that peaked my interest was the Home Carousel. It offers one glance access to your data. Emails, appointments, photos and websites right on your home screen. Sound a bit familiar? Sure, the look is a bit different, but it’s awfully similar to the Hub system that Microsoft is slowly moving away from in Windows Phone. The first version of Windows Phone 7 was designed to give uses a one peek access to all their data – a phone to save you from your phone. Remember? Sounds like Home Carousel is a step back in that direction for Amazon.

Their X-Ray service is awfully close to the original Bing button in Windows Phone. I know that Microsoft has moved on to Cortana now, but a long press of the X-Ray button on the device will allow you to listen to music and get lyrics, look up products online and get prices, and even view IMDB information. Again, a striking similarity to where another OS just created a void.

Whispersync is the craziest feature yet, because when you combine this with the new Second Screen feature, you have someone beating Microsoft to the 3 screen concept. Yes, I said it. If this works as well as the demonstration did, Amazon just beat Microsoft at their own game. Your Fire TV is hooked to you big screen. Your Fire HDX is your new portable computer. Now the Fire Phone is the portable handheld that completes the circle. When you have all three working in harmony, you have the dream that was the Three Screen concept that Windows Phone originally was.

Overall, I think this device will be somewhat of a flop, though the concept is the best I’ve seen on the market today. Linking your shopping and personal lifestyles over 3 separate items is brilliant. Now, if they had skipped out on the exclusive AT&T deal, lowered the price to $299 and $399 for the 32GB and 64GB respectively, I think Amazon would have hit a home run. Perhaps they will learn a thing or two from this, though they obviously didn’t learn from the Facebook Phone debacle, and come back with something stronger and more palatable for the next generation device. Until then, We are just left with a fine example of a concept that Microsoft should have completed years ago and should own right now, but due to mismanagement and poor decision making, is still struggling to make work.

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