Adam Scheinberg Archive
At long last, Amazon.com has entered the mobile phone market, as expected. The impressively spec'ed "Fire Phone" stacks up with a 4.7" Gorilla Glass display, a 2.2Ghz CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 13 Megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture, certainly very competitive with today's Android flagships. Amazon has, quite wisely, included a number of hardware and software features and services that set it apart from the competition. The Fire Phone also boasts unlimited cloud storage of photos.
The Fire Phone has stereo speakers and a hardware camera button that help it stand out from the crowd. Prime customers? You all get the motherlode of content, so you'll be testing those speakers with access to a million songs recently made available via Amazon Prime Music. And if you're not a Prime member? Gotcha covered! You get one year of Prime for free (existing Prime users are extended a year).Amazon has included their now-trademark Mayday Button, which provides 24/7 support. While this may seem unnecessary, take for example iOS 8, where there are literally dozens of new features to potentially confuse a user, or Android, where major version jumps change the entire UI of the phone. A dedicated support mechanism is a novel and likely welcome addition to the smart phone lineup.
A new service called Firefly that, much like Shazam, can not only listen, but "see." Optical recognition can help you identify (and subsequently purchase) books, TV shows, movies, games, music, and products. And the best part? There's an API for third parties to tie into it. This is going to be a very interesting feature.
Dynamic Perspective is billed by Amazon as "A custom-designed sensor system that responds to how you hold, view, and move your phone." It looks pretty amazing, and appears to give you not only standard gyroscopic control, but also a unique Z-axis subject distance, making for some very interesting effects and system responses to twisting, tilting, and peeking. You can read more about this feature and get the SDK on the Fire Phone developer's page.
The Fire Phone is available today for pre-order and is exclusive to AT&T, where it is free with AT&T Next, $199 on contract, or $649 off-contract.
I am taking the plunge and moving from an iPhone to an Android device. I've been waiting a long time for Android to get to the point that it was fast and responsive enough, with a big enough application warehouse, wide enough support, and a smooth enough experience, to support me. Android is maturing with a consistent, system-wide look-and-feel, almost every major service now has an Android app as the counterpart to its iOS-first experience, and has a bright future with wearables, home automation, and more.
I certainly won't be the first person to change ecosystems entirely. Several have done it before, some looking for change or claim freedom, some aiming to save money, some because someone prompted them, some think they may be conforming by going with the ever-stylish Apple. I am doing it for this reason: for me, Android is now a better platform than iOS.