The long-awaited Amazon phone appears to be almost ready for its debut. For over a couple of years now, there have been hints and leaks about the phone, although Amazon has never confirmed that it’s making a smartphone.
Recent reports suggest the handset will hit the market soon. In the past week, tech blog Boy Genius Report has posted more details about the phone, including images of what it says is that very phone, along with a report that users will control some features of the device just by tilting it at certain angles.
Amazon’s proprietary cameras and head-tracking system will work alongside various sensors to create a 3D effect as the device is shifted around in your hand. “By tilting the handset in different directions while the device is in use, Amazon’s interface will display additional information on the screen without the user having to touch or tap anything,”BGR says. That may sound confusing, but the idea is to make one-handed use far easier than what you’d get from many top smartphones today.
According to both reports, the phone will include groundbreaking technology. Boy Genius Report also offers up a number of examples. Tilting the phone when in the email and calendar apps will reveal labels beneath each icon to describe what they do. When you’re composing a text in the messaging app, a tilting motion will offer quick access to the phone’s camera roll. Move the phone while searching Amazon’s maps app and you’ll reportedly see the Yelp rating each result has earned from customers. Similarly, moving the phone in your hand while in the video app will reveal a given film’s IMDB rating.
The report claims that Amazon has essentially eliminated any need for a traditional menu button with this no-touch approach. Still, it sounds like there will be a significant learning curve for consumers, as very few devices on the market use motion to such an extreme degree. The site also notes that Amazon is working on an app that uses the device’s rear camera to capture printed text in the real world and convert that image into an editable note using OCR technology.
The company that made its name in online retailing has been working on the phone for several years, according to reports. And, indeed, rumors of its existence have been floating around since at least 2011.
Amazon was long thought of primarily as a website. But since the success of its e-reader, the Kindle, the company has increasingly become known for its hardware, too. The original Kindle in 2007 was followed by the Kindle Fire tablet and, most recently, by Amazon Fire TV, a device that streams Web content to your television.
With the Fire TV, Amazon has reaffirmed its products as competitors to similar hardware from Apple and Google, as well as more targeted companies like Roku and TiVo.
It makes sense that a phone would follow. And Amazon appears to have chosen to take its time to roll out something unique instead of just jumping into a crowded market dominated by the iPhone and a small handful of handsets running Google’s Android operating system.
“Congratulations to Amazon.com for thinking outside the box. If this is a hit it could be great news for both Amazon.com and their customers. It could be another Kindle-like business.” – Jeff Kagan, wireless analyst.
But that success isn’t guaranteed, even with Amazon’s expansive resources behind it, he said in a media release.
“Some companies like Apple, Google and Samsung are very successful in the smartphone space. However many more companies are trying with very little success,” Kagan added. “The next biggest player is Microsoft Nokia and they only have a few percent market share.”