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Amazon Releases First Smartphone

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Amazon.com's first smartphone, the Fire Phone, is displayed during a demonstration at the company's Fire Phone launch event on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Credit: David Ryder/Getty Images)

Amazon.com’s first smartphone, the Fire Phone, is displayed during a demonstration at the company’s Fire Phone launch event on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Credit: David Ryder/Getty Images)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By KYW tech editor Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Amazon dives into the smartphone game with the Friday release of Fire — a device that doesn’t let you stray far from the e-tailer.

To steal your attention from the iPhone and Android devices, Amazon has added four cameras on the face of Fire.  Sounds like overkill, but Yahoo Tech editorial director Rafe Needleman says they’re for a reason:

“To know how your head and face is oriented to the phone. It gives you a fake 3D view of the interface as your head moves in relation to the phone — you get this parallax effect.”

It’s good for games and maps, when you want to peer around digital corners, he says:

“Amazon makes a lot of money when you buy this phone.”

Not with the $200 price tag, but instead because of a feature called Firefly: point it at basically anything — music, TV shows, laundry detergent…

“And if it’s something that exists in the Amazon store, it’ll say, ‘do you want to buy it?’ And they’ll sell it to you on the spot,” Needleman explains.

It’s only on AT&T and comes with a year of Amazon Prime streaming.

Needleman calls it a “good smartphone for beginners,” but Fire might not stoke your flames if most of your media comes from iTunes, Google Play, or Netflix.

And since it runs a ‘forked’ — custom to Amazon — version of Android, apps for Fire phone must be downloaded from the Amazon store.

It’s stocked with plenty, but some won’t be updated at the same time as Android apps while other titles are missing or won’t be added at all.

 

 

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