LAUNCH EVENT time 10:30am PDT, 1:30pm EDT
FIRE PHONE is now available for pre-order.
Release date: July 25, 2014
Limited time offer - "Includes a full year of Amazon Prime" (normally $99)
If you aren't a Prime member, you'll get a full year of Prime with Fire phone. If you already have Prime, we'll extend your membership for a full year."
It starts at $199 for 32 GB, $299 for 64 GB, with a 2-year monthly data plan with AT&T.
Essentially then, the phone with 32G is $99 after saving on $99 Prime, with 2 yrs of a monthly data plan.
The 3D-simulation on Amazon's product-page image is pretty nifty. Am not placing it here, as eInk Kindle subscribers to the Kindle Edition of the blog can't view video. :-) Thanks again to the subscribers for continued support of the blog.
Content seen during launch is below - edited after-the-fact for clarity (and to fix typos galore)
REFRESH the web page to see any additional updates as they occur today, which will be shown at the top instead.
Will just be taking notes here and updating when I see something unusual. My earlier article on the rather heavily "rumored" smartphone had a lot of details that
While the 3D aspects should be novel and fun for awhile, I was looking forward to a good plan but especially since it's been said to be exclusive to AT&T (which seemed a hint they may have worked out a good deal for customers and Amazon with AT&T to get that exclusive). The limited-time offer of 1 yr of free Prime is probably what makes it a better deal than most, as it makes the cost of a new, very high-tech smartphone with advanced features only $99 if you get a 2-year monthly data plan with AT&T.
The launch started out with the usual lists of previous goals and accomplishments, and Amazon will then take invited customer-applicants for this event (said to be chosen via a random drawing) and the usual media to a place where they can get hands-on access.
A rumor I hadn't heard earlier
' In addition to the five total front cameras, the back camera is said to have optical character recognition that can capture and convert text.I had no idea this morning whether that was true or not, but that's very useful. There are Android and iOS apps that have been able to, for some time, take a picture of a sign with text in another language and translate it.
In other words, instead of stuffing all those business cards into your pockets at your next networking event, you'll be able to snap up a photo of the card and have all the information automatically compiled into your contacts. '
Turns out that the Fire Phone can read an image to get, say, a phone number but, not only that, it can realize that a graphic element confused it and that the area code is not a valid one and then can fetch the information to correct it).
Jeff Bezos mentioned that 60,000+ people applied to view the launch in Seattle in person, and Amazon whittled that down to 300.
Prime apparently has "tens of millions" of subscribers -- and we know that Prime will be the big factor here, as we've seen with video and music features (along with Kindle book loans and 2-day free shipping) on millions of items. As you saw in a previous blog entry here, the original 5,000 Kindle books in the Prime Library for free lending of one-book per calendar month has grown to over 500,000.
A sample previous prediction by experts when the first Kindle launched was mentioned -- the investing site Motley Fool said it would be good "for kindling."
Opening PR reminded us that Foresee and YouGov branding charts both list Amazon as No. 1 in customer service.
The Fire Phone with FIREFLY scanning
Claims on slides shown, for the most part: (I'll double space these after editing, and also highlight a few aspects that were more interesting to me, for easier reading.)
. Rubberized frame, Gorilla Glass, aluminum buttons.
. Premium materials, scratch resistant
. 4.7 inch IPS LCD HD display
. Quad core 2.2 Ghz processor, Adreno 330 graphics processor, and 2 GB of RAM.
. "Beautiful, comfortable, durable"
. Injection-molded steel connectors
. Focus on making it Better than usual for outdoor viewing
. Great imaging hardware
with 13 MP rear-facing camera, f/2 5-element lens, optical image stabilization
. Slide of Fire Phone vs iPhone 5s and Samsung F5
(They wouldn't be showing one where the Fire Phone didn't look better, of course)
. "Don't miss the shot" -- instant fast access to camera from
. Free Unlimited Photo Storage
. Dual stereo speakers (Stereo audio in Landscape), Virtual surround sound, Dolby Digital Plus
. Free Mayday Help/Support feature -- (video support by customer reps and AT&T reps within 15 seconds when you need help) is included. You see the rep, who does not see you but you can hear each other, and the reps can not only show you how to do something, they can do it for you.)
. Watch material on HDTV, 2nd screen, Miracast, plus Xray for movies and tv
. Flat cables, earphones included
. Netflix, HBO Go, ESPN, Youtube, and Showtime apps are included and ready to go.
. includes of course the new Prime Music feature (free for members) - over 1 million songs
with unlimited free streaming.
. More than a few Music apps and services
. "Semantic Boosting" helps to get the phone number right by eliminating invalid numbers.
. Firefly scanning feature "scrapes" the image for relevant info [via optical character recognition], compressing a large image file to a smaller one with only small bits of info. That helps the phone send the info to its cloud service to process the image and get appropriate info or answers quickly.
. Reminder about the X-ray feature, now using Firefly also. As with tablets, if it recognizes the show, it pulls up info on the actors, specific episode, and scene via Amazon's IMDB database. I expect this works with Amazon Prime but not with Netflix and Hulu Plus etc., as they control the stream with Prime video. HOWEVER, the Firefly scanning feature has had a lot of training by Amazon and itself can "recognize" movies, TV episodes, music, and get info for X-Ray. I've added Amazon's description of Firefly functions at the bottom of this post, as it is a very impressive feature, activated by the press of a physical button on the phone.
. Firefly recognizes a hundred million different items in real-world situations.
. The image changes as you move your phone (or head) and perspective.
. A MAP application was shown next, in 3D
. They zoomed into the Empire State Building image, and it's said this looks a lot better than previous attempts at 3D on similar devices
. The 3D couldn't exactly be experienced by our looking at the launch-event slides over the web with our normal devices.
. Various web sites are very impressed with the 3D implementation. Most writers I read were skeptical about it based on previous attempts by other companies.
. In the web browsing -- "auto scroll" - you can scroll by tilting the phone (I'm not sure I'd want that, but they pointed out that can be turned off when wanted.
. You can pin other apps to the app grid. They have the Carousel with latest apps accessed at the top.
. Get in and out of apps with widgets (shown on slide) without having to load up a full app
. Music app. As with the tablets, we can see the lyrics synchronized (highlighting current line) with songs for which they received the rights for that.
Song info is in one panel - lyrics in a panel to the right.
. Games: You can tilt the phone to look at different perspectives in a game.
. "Dynamic Perspective" - They started working on this 4 years ago and had prototypes working in the first week.
. The phone has a wider range of view for the front camera to cover the area needed for tracking head movement and whatever else needed to make the 3D simulation work well.
. At least two of the Fire Phone's four corner cameras and center camera can find your eyes, creating stereovision.
. To have it work in the dark, they added infrared lights, one in each camera.
. Dynamic Perspective sensor system -- "uses four ultra-low power specialized cameras -- the smallest globally shuttered cameras in existence -- plus four infrared LEDs for invisible illumination, real-time computer vision algorithms, and a custom graphics engine rendering at 60 fps" [frames per second]."
. They used "millions of images from thousands of faces from all around the world" while testing this.
. While trying to find the user's head and eyes for perspective-use, the cameras -could- during development be fooled by another head that happened to be in the picture (as in an image on a t-shirt). They say they fixed the usual problems with seeing multiple-faces in that case.
. Developers can develop 3D apps for viewing homes while shopping, etc.
. You can silence your ringer for 3 hours. After that, it turns back on.
This would help me since I forget to turn it back on and then can't use a landline to call my cellphone to find out where it is :-)
. Price: $199 for 32 GB phone, with a 2 year monthly data plan, and includes a limited-time offer of a free one-year Prime membership, $299 for 64 GB phone w/ 2 yr contract and same Prime deal.
Addendum: More about Firefly and what it does (from product page)
You just press the physical button on the side of the Fire Phone to "take action on"
' Phone numbers, web, and email addresses
Firefly identifies printed text on posters, magazines, and business cards -- make calls, save new contacts, send emails, and visit websites without typing long addresses.
Movies & TV
Firefly recognizes over 240,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels. Firefly uses X-Ray, powered by IMDb, to show information on actors, plot details, and related content -- add titles to your Watchlist or download to watch later.
Firefly recognizes songs so you can access artist information, play related songs, download albums direct to your Fire phone, or add them to your Wish List to purchase later on. With Firefly-enabled apps like iHeartRadio and StubHub, you can create radio stations based on an identified artist, or even find tickets for their next show.
Over 70 million products
Recognize household items, books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and more. Access product details, add items to your Wish List, or order on Amazon straight from your Fire phone. '
Amazon's 3D FIRE PHONE is now available for pre-order here
Release date: July 25, 2014
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