Archive for the ‘Fire Phone’ Category

I ordered a Fire Phone…and why a lot of other people will, too

June 21, 2014

I ordered a Fire Phone…and why a lot of other people will, too

I like my

Samsung Galaxy S3 SmartPhone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

…a lot.

Every day I use it, I think it’s cool.

About a month from now, though, I’ll be trading it in for a

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

Why, you ask?

Well, first, I have a somewhat unusual use case. I write about this stuff. 😉 Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll write about the Fire Phone a lot…reading isn’t going to be one of its main features, although the “infinite scroll” ability is something that I see people wanting on Kindles. You’ll be able to do that without touching the screen, too, which could be a good thing. I suspect they may need to coin some new terms for repetitive stress injuries, though…and “Fire Phone neck” might be one of them. 😉

It will do audiobooks (including Immersion Reading and Whispersync for Voice).

They haven’t talked about text-to-speech, although it does have audible menus and such:

Accessibility page (at AmazonSmile)

I’ll probably mention it sometimes, the way I talk about other things in my life (like jury duty). I haven’t written that much about my

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

although I did talk a bit about using mirroring to read books on the big screen.

It’s interesting, too, that this isn’t a “Kindle phone”, but a “Fire phone”. Amazon now has more lines with “Fire” in the name (Fire TV, Fire Phone, Kindle Fire) than with “Kindle” in the name (Kindle readers, Kindle Fire).

I’m glad they didn’t name it a “Kindle” phone…I would really have preferred that that be saved for EBRs (E-Book Readers)…I don’t really like that it is part of the tablet name, but that ship has sailed.

Knowledge of it is one reason for me…and that will be true for some other writers, as well. Even though it seems like there are a gazillion tech blogs, that’s not enough to make the phone work in the market.

I’m also attracted by some of the features.

Mayday is the best Customer Service thing I’ve ever seen, and having that on a phone is amazing! I do think it will be more challenging for them than for the Kindle Fire, but it will be nice to know it is there.

I think Firefly (object recognition) has some incredible potential. One thing they haven’t talked about: facial recognition (on individual faces). Oh, it knows where you are looking, and it can tell the difference between a picture of a face and a face, but I think there may be some apps in the future that really take advantage of its senses.

How about no password or thumbprint…it just recognizes you?

It looks at a photo on Facebook…and identifies everybody.

You are at a football game, and you know your friend is there…you tell Firefly to scan the crowd for that face, and it finds it.

Now, the last one may be impossible…probably too far away…but it got you thinking. 😉

One more: you go to the playground with your kid. Your phone is able to keep track of where your kid is at all times, out of the mass of other kids.

Again, that may be wishful thinking, but the capabilities Firefly will already have will be very useful!

I’m hoping I’ll be able to use it to put books into Goodreads (owned by Amazon)…books without UPCs (Universal Product Codes). I can already scan fairly recent books to put into Goodreads, but a lot of my books can’t be scanned.

Oh, and I’m hoping the Optical Character Recognition is great! We’ll see about that, though…I’ll be testing it pretty quickly (I should have the phone at the end of July when they first ship).

As for dyper (dynamic perception…I just am amused by calling it “dyper”)…we’ll see how much I like it. Might, might not.

As a t-shirt I have proudly proclaims, though, I’m “nobody’s target market”. 😉

Here is what I think a lot of the tech blogs haven’t been getting.

I’ve seen people ask, “Why would anybody give up an iPhone or a Galaxy for this?”

Wrong question.

Amazon doesn’t need anybody at all to give up their current SmartPhones.

Only about half of the people in the USA own SmartPhones.

Now, admittedly, a lot of people (infants, for example) don’t own phones at all…but even if you only look at people with mobile service, something like a quarter to a third of them still don’t have SmartPhones.

That’s what will make the Fire Phone succeed (knock virtual wood).

How many of those people who don’t have SmartPhones have Amazon accounts?

A lot, I would guess.

Remember, they don’t have to unlearn the Apple interface, or the Google interface.

I was talking to somebody today, and I said that someone who switches from an iPhone or a Droid to a phone where you do a lot of flicking rather than tapping may have some trouble adjusting…but they’ll be able to do it.

If someone learns on a Fire Phone, they’ll have a tough time using a different phone.

These people will want to do e-mail, watch videos, go to websites, make phone calls (including videocalls)…and my intuition is that the Fire Phone will do all of that more intuitively than other SmartPhones.

“What about the price?”

It’s comparable with other choices…and this is Amazon, a familiar entity to them.

The cost actually wasn’t bad.

The phone was $200, approximately (although, and I knew this, the sales tax was on $650 about…so it was about $250).

I get a year of Prime. Even though we’re Prime members already, they still pay for it next time. That saves me about $100…bringing it down to about $100.

I’ll be able trade in my S3 for about $50…making my investment in this phone about $50…certainly doable.

Now, a newbie won’t have a SmartPhone to trade in, but they may be able to get something.

Yep…there will be some migration, and there may be quite a bit of gifting. Mayday means that your relative that could never figure out a phone can have tech support twenty-four hours a day…and it won’t be you.

I think the big audience, though, will be SmartPhone virgins.

I’ll write a bit about it when I get it, and I’ll be happy to answer questions.

Oh, one question which I’ve addressed already: reader Bob Anderson was concerned about battery charge life with all the fancy features…and honestly, so was I.

It actually has a great battery!

“Battery size: 2400mAh. Talk time: up to 22 hours; standby time: up to 285 hours. Video playback: up to 11 hours; audio playback: up to 65 hours.”

I would guess you could read for a few days on a camping trip without charging it.

I still have some unanswered questions. It does have a voice assistant, but I have a lot of fun with that, and I’ll be looking to see how well that works. We’ll see if the features live up to the hype. I’m interested in how someone with some disabilities will be able to use it…are there good alternatives to flicking your wrist? By the way…um…how to put this? Jon Stewart kidded Jeff Bezos when he talked about using the Kindle one-handed…and Jeff made a point of that again with the Fire Phone. I can certainly see the advantage (eat lunch with one hand, keep the phone clean), but it does seem a bit…odd. 😉

Update: I have a number of readers comment on the phone being AT&T only, and that’s also been a concern of the blogosphere, so I thought I’d address that.

Would they sell more Fire Phones if it was also available on other carriers? Sure, I think it would be very hard to say otherwise.

Does that make it a “mistake”?

Not necessarily.

Amazon doesn’t know for sure how successful a product will be when they launch it. Oh, I’m sure there’s some sense about it, but you can’t tell…and the biggest tech companies have had clunkers (Apple’s Newton, the Facebook phone, for example).

AT&T must pay them a lot of money to be the exclusive carrier (they did that with the Kindle Fire, too)…which I think of as “launch insurance”.

Let’s suppose it is a flat fee, not something per person who actually signs up.

That way, even if the Fire Phone was a flop, Amazon would have some of their costs covered, which helps make investors less nervous.

After the first year, Amazon can open it up to other carriers: that’s what happened with the Kindle Fire, now available for AT&T or Verizon.

If somebody really wants one now, will they want one less a year from now? Maybe (some people want that “first rush” feeling), but if Amazon is confident in the product, it may also be that more people want it a year from now when it has been proven.

I don’t think this is part of the argument, but 3G/4G is becoming less crucial, as wi-fi  becomes more available. By the 2016 models, you are, I think, pretty likely to have a wi-fi hotspot in the next car you buy. If you can make phone calls and do navigation in the car, and you have wi-fi at the home, office, and stores (and increasingly, pretty much full city coverage), might it be possible to do it with no carrier?

Cutting the risk significantly buy getting an exclusivity fee might be worth reducing the amount you can make in sales.

Just my thoughts on that one…

End update

Anyway, I thought some of you would want to know, and I’ll write about something else next time.

Have any questions about the Fire Phone? Do you think it won’t succeed…that people who haven’t gotten a SmartPhone so far aren’t going to do it for this one? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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Amazon announcement: it’s a…phone!

June 18, 2014

Amazon announcement: it’s a…phone!

Amazon Fire Phone, 32GB (AT&T) (at AmazonSmile)

I’m watching Brad Molen’s liveblog on

engadget

and checking

Amazon’s own site (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’ll update this as things are revealed.

  • 60,000 people asked for invitations (about 300 are there)
  • Jeff Bezos looks relaxed in a “California suit” (suit jacket, dress shirt and jeans…also wearing non-business shoes)
  • A LOT of talk about Prime, and how much membership increased when they added perks. I’m guessing they are going to talk about Prime Music before the hardware reveal
  • They’ve been in the device business for ten years, since the first Kindle…but that was in 2007. Maybe since the first prototype?
  • Shout out to Mr. Pine’s Purple House…ironically, since the text doesn’t appear to be part of the images, it appears that the publisher has deliberately blocked text-to-speech access in the Kindle edition
  • There it is…the Fire Phone!
  • 4.7″ HD display, ruggedly built with Gorilla Glass
  • Ultrabright display (590 nits)
  • Quad core 2.2 GHZ processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 13 MP rear-facing camera
  • f 2/0 five element lens
  • optical image stabilization
  • Showing comparison pics to iPhone 5S and Samsung S5…no question, Fire Phone looks better (at least in low light)
  • Physical camera button…even with the phone off, two pushes gets it going
  • Unlimited online photo storage
  • Dolby speakers with Surround Sound
  • Some new weird tangle-free headphones (earbuds, actually)
  • Big section on how cool video is…and you can do second screen and mirroring (you can fling it to a Fire TV)
  • It will have the ASAP feature from the Fire (which I think is great…it pre-loads videos it thinks you might watch, like the next episode in a series, so they start right away)
  • The apps screen includes HBO Go
  • Prime Music (and the availability of apps for competitors)
  • A shout out to books…yay! 🙂 Also the Newsstand
  • Immersion reading
  • Plugging customer service…might be Mayday! Yep, there’s the fake Mayday rep from the Kindle Fire commercials! Mayday is included free, available over both wi-fi and 3G/4G
  • Just saw a Flashlight app in the settings part…I’ve always downloaded one to my phones, nice to have it as an onboard feature
  • About to show off a feature called Firefly (go, Whedonverse!) ;)…requires props
  • Firefly is object recognition (including scanning UPCs and tags, it looks like). Point it at a book or a videogame, and it finds it in the database. Gee, I wonder what they want you to use that for? 😉 Shopping, of course! It’s the ultimate super showrooming app! 😉
  • Firefly can also do Soundhound like song recognition. As a cool feature, it can look at a TV show and identify it
  • It recognizes paintings as well
  • I didn’t know Jeff wears glasses…
  • Point it at a sign (even a poster wrapped around a pole) and it can pick up a phone number or e-mail address
  • 100 million items can be recognized
  • Cool!
  • Wow! It had a hard time reading a phone number because of glare (hard to tell if it was a 3 or an 8) so it checked which ones were possible in that position, given the rest of the number
  • Heavy duty OCR (Optical Character Recognition)…hm, might lead to a lot of capture of books that way (which would be legal with public domain titles for sure)
  • Dedicated button for Firefly
  • I really like my Samsung Galaxy S4, but wOOt! (Want One Of Those)
  • They are making an SDK (Developer’s Kit) available, so other companies can work with the recognition
  • Hey, there’s MyFitnessPal…I’ve lost something like forty pounds using that!
  • The SDK is available immediately
  • Firefly is a game changer!
  • Nothing on Amazon’s homepage yet
  • Doing sort of an art theory lesson 3D (perspectives and such)
  • I do suggest you go to the Engadget site to see their great pictures!
  • There’s something about 3D images, and specifically using it in maps. They are using what may be the Empire State Building…maybe we’ll see Doc Savage walking around? 😉
  • If we are finishing in an hour, should see the price and dataplans (?) soon
  • Interesting approach to multi-tasking! You can look under one image to see another one (since they are in three dimensions)
  • You can tilt the phone to make it scroll
  • Looks like you can continuously scroll a book…some people have really wanted that, especially on a smaller screen. In other words, no page flips…just tilt the phone a bit to bring up the next “page”, and keep going
  • The basic interface looks pretty easy to use
  • About to demo a game called “tofu fury”. I eat tofu a lot…hopefully, this will mean that the speech recognition in Firefly will be able to spell “tofu” 😉
  • A term we’ll all learn and use “dynamic perspective”…you tilt your head, you see different things…hm, maybe “dy-per” for short? 😉
  • Lots of technical stuff about how the dyper works…requires four cameras, infrared so that it works in the dark…and the ability to tell the difference between a picture of a head and a head (so it doesn’t get distracted by Nic Cage’s t-shirt that has Nic Cage’s head on it). They used millions of images of faces to train it
  • Dyper is available for developers: developer.amazon.com/firephone
  • Many little interface touches, like canned messages you can send easily
  • AT&T exclusive (I’m happy we are already on AT&T)
  • AT&T rep is talking: four killer features…dyper, Firefly, Fire TV with Fire Phone, and Mayday (there will be a “hand-off” for Mayday to get AT&T help)
  • The phone can be pre-ordered today
  • It’s not on the homescreen yet, but here it is: Fire Phone at Amazon (at AmazonSmile)
  • They are showing $199, or $27 a month (with a two year contract)
  • Ships July 25
  • You get a year of Prime included!
  • Existing Prime members will also get a year free

I’m going to get one!

What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: well, this is disappointing! I tried to pre-order it through Amazon, and it says I’m not eligible to do an upgrade until September…of 2015! =:o I called AT&T, and they said that they have the “Next” program which would allow me to get it…but we couldn’t get the Fire Phone to show up at the AT&T site, even though the rep could see it on the website. The AT&T rep, who was great, by the way, even texted me a link…it just showed up as a blank page. They thought Amazon might be able to switch it to the Next (monthly) plan…which they had mentioned during the launch events (that’s the “per month” plan). So, I Maydayed it…and they couldn’t do it either.

I’ll have to try the AT&T site again later, I guess, or go to one of their stores.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

My new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days features vintage articles on ghosts, sea serpents, psychic phenomena, and more http://flip.it/ZtmYw

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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