BGR Exclusive Beyond 3D: Inside Amazon’s smartphone

Discussion in 'Amazon Android Phones & Tablets' started by Jeffrey, Jun 17, 2014.

  1. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Premium Member
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    BGR has exclusively learned several additional details about the heavily customized Android software that powers Amazon’s smartphone.

    Multiple trusted sources tell us that Amazon’s upcoming handset will utilize a unique combination of cameras, sensors and software to dramatically change the way users interact with a smartphone. As we detailed in an earlier report, the company’s first smartphone will feature four low-power infrared cameras on the face of the device that track the position of the user’s head in relation to the phone’s display.

    This unique hardware combination of tracking cameras and sensors will facilitate a variety of 3D effects on Amazon’s smartphone, as we reported. These effects will be present in several stock Amazon apps as well as some third-party apps available for download from the Amazon Appstore.

    Beyond 3D effects, however, Amazon’s new technology will also enable an entirely new way for users to navigate apps and menus on the phone.

    With its first handset, Amazon will introduce a variety of unique gesture controls.
    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. This will not only be a point of differentiation for the company’s phone lineup, but also a way for larger devices such as Amazon’s upcoming 4.7-inch flagship phone to be operated more comfortably with one hand.
    Our sources gave us several examples of areas where these new gestures will be utilized.

    In the phone’s email and calendar apps where small icons are displayed with no labels, a slight tilt will reveal labels beneath each icon, informing the user of its function. If the user performs a tilt gesture after searching for a restaurant in the maps app, Yelp ratings will appear on top of the various results plotted on the map.

    In Amazon’s video store, a tilt gesture displays IMDb ratings on top of movie thumbnails. And when viewing products on Amazon.com, gestures might cycle through images to reveal different product views.

    Amazon’s motion sensing and head tracking technology also changes the way users access menus and other features in apps. In fact, we’re told that Amazon’s smartphone apps don’t even have traditional menu buttons. Instead, menus and other functions are accessed by tilting the phone to the right or left. These tilts cause new panels to slide in over the current screen.

    So for example, if the user tilts the phone to one side while reading a book in the Kindle app, the phone will open the X-Ray menu, which is a reference tool that provides contextual information relevant to whatever the user might be reading at the time.

    A tilt in the messaging app while composing a new message will open up a panel with the phone’s camera roll, allowing users to quickly and easily insert a photo. Tilting the phone to one side while using the weather app reveals the extended forecast.

    Amazon has also created several zero-touch controls that are triggered by tilt gestures, our sources said. For example, tilting the phone up or down while reading a book in the Kindle app or while viewing a page in the web browser will scroll the page in the appropriate direction.

    Moving beyond the device’s sensors, our sources say there is one additional interesting software feature worth noting.
    Amazon’s phone includes a feature that will allow users to capture images of signs and other real-life objects with printed text using the device’s primary rear camera. The software will then automatically recognize the text and convert it into a note using optical character recognition (OCR) and other technology.

    We’re told the software can also perform certain functions with the captured text, such as saving information on a business card to a new contact entry, or translating text from a foreign language into English.

    [​IMG]
    Amazon’s first smartphone is one of at least two handsets the company is currently working on. We’re told that the second, an entry-level device that will feature lower-end specs and a very competitive retail price, will launch sometime after the phone pictured here.
    The device set to debut in the coming months will be a higher-end model that has been in development at Amazon for several years.
    According to details from multiple sources, Amazon’s first phone will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and it will also include 2GB of RAM. It will run a heavily customized version of Google’s Android operating system similar to the version that powers Amazon’s tablets.

    Our sources state that the phone’s display will measure 4.7 inches diagonally, making the handset’s screen a bit smaller than recent flagship offerings from Samsung and HTC. The handset also have comparatively low pixel density, featuring 720p HD resolution compared to 1080p HD resolution on many rival devices.

    Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 is also rumored to feature a 4.7-inch screen with Retina resolution that falls short of full HD.
    It’s not clear exactly what Amazon plans to call its first phone.

    [​IMG]
    The most novel aspect of Amazon’s upcoming smartphone is its 3D software interface and the hardware mechanism that enables it.
    Our sources state that the new Amazon phone includes a total of six cameras.

    The main rear camera is thought to feature a resolution of 13 megapixels, and the phone also includes a standard front-facing camera for video chats as well as Amazon’s Mayday customer service feature.

    Beyond those two units, the device houses an additional four front-facing cameras that work with other sensors to facilitate the software’s 3D effects. One source tells us these four cameras, which are situated in each of the four corners on the face of the phone, are low-power infrared cameras.

    The device’s extra cameras are used to track the position of the user’s face and eyes in relation to the phone’s display. This allows Amazon’s software to make constant adjustments to the positioning of on-screen elements, altering the perspective of visuals on the screen.

    The result is a 3D experience without the need for 3D glasses or a parallax barrier in front the LCD panel like the solutions used by the Nintendo 3DS portable video game console and HTC’s EVO 3D smartphone from 2011.
    We’re told there are several areas of the phone’s software that utilize Amazon’s glasses-free 3D effects.

    Since the 3D interface is the phone’s biggest point of differentiation, Amazon has tried to use its new technology in as many areas as possible. In fact, right from the start on the lock screen, Amazon’s new phone will include several special wallpapers with perspectives that shift as the user tilts the phone from side to side as well as up and down.

    Moving past the wallpapers, Amazon’s 3D effect will also apply to application icons and other core elements of the user interface. Several main apps will be compatible as well; for example, we’re told that moving the phone while using the maps application will change the view of various objects on the screen.

    Another smart use for the phone’s 3D effects is across Amazon’s various stores, such as its book store, music store and the main Amazon digital market. By shifting the position of the phone, users are able to see three-dimensional product images at different angles to reveal surfaces that cannot be seen in 2D photos.

    One source tells us Amazon is also working to recruit big outside developers in an effort to have a number of key third-party apps available at launch that take advantage of the phone’s 3D interface. Amazon will make a set of APIs available to third parties and it will also assist them with development in other ways, we’re told.

    A report late last week from Re/code also said that Amazon is working to get third-party developers on board.
    Our sources are not clear on exactly when Amazon’s first smartphone will be released, though we’re told the company may be targeting an announcement in the next two to three months and a launch sometime late this summer. We were also told the phone will initially be available only in the United States.

    Amazon’s second, lower-cost smartphone will then debut at a later time.


    Source: BRG

     
  2. mslaceyrose

    mslaceyrose Active Member

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    That all sounds amazing. Amazon's really branching out in every direction, aren't they? Good for them.
     
  3. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey Premium Member
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    This is not the first time Amazon has attempted to get into the mobile phone business. They failed horribly the first time. Let's see if they have learned anything.
     
  4. mslaceyrose

    mslaceyrose Active Member

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    One would hope so, but you never know. Time will tell. :)