A closer look at the new technologies in Amazon's Fire smartphone

Firefly, Dynamic Perspective could be the next steps in the evolution of online shopping

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Zillow, an app for people who are shopping for real estate shopping, used the Dynamic Perspective SDK to give potential home buyers the ability to tilt their heads to zoom into a bedroom or peek around a kitchen corner, Amazon said in a statement. With Dynamic Perspective, a customer can use one hand to tilt and control moves through a book or Web page or to check out 3D-like maps that have added information on locations with Yelp ratings.

Llamas said Dynamic Perspective seems to go much further than what Apple offered with its parallax view, a 3D effect introduced a year ago in iOS 7. Apple's tool creates an illusion in which icons seem to float above the home screen, but the function apparently didn't go over well and many users turned off the function or didn't know how to use it for other parts of the iPhone experience, Llamas said.

Amazon's Fire phone with Firefly
Amazon's Fire phone and its recognition app, called Firefly. (Photo: Amazon)

Two Android-based phones that offered 3D-like experiences -- the HTC Evo 3D and the LG Optimus with 3D -- didn't last long on the market because of a lack of 3D content, Llamas said.

The Fire phone's Firefly technology is activated with a push of a dedicated button on the side of the handset. It gives users access to image, text (through imaging with the 13-megapixel camera) and audio recognition (through the phone's microphone) capabilities that help identify Web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR codes and bar codes, and 100 million other items and pieces of content like movies, TV shows, songs and products.

While Firefly sounds like the key to getting Fire users to buy Amazon products, it could also be put to use in brick-and-mortar stores, where Fire owners could use their phones to scan the products in the showroom and then see what Amazon has to offer that's similar. Research shows that when smartphone users enter physical stores to comparison shop -- a practice known as "showrooming" -- they are more apt to buy what's in the store, Ask said.

Still, Firefly will eliminate some of the hassles associated with shopping on a mobile device (such as the annoyance of using a small screen and keyboard to search for an item, or having to open an app in order to buy an item) by making it possible to quickly jump to Amazon.com to make the purchase, Llamas said.

"That's Amazon's main strategy with this phone, and they clearly want to capitalize on impulse buys to make it so gosh darn easy for you to buy," Llamas said." They've removed a lot of pain points and tried to make buying as delightful as possible."

Of course, not all Fire phone users may be ready to buy something; some might just want to identify a song or movie and find out more information quickly. That kind of service will gratify Fire users and improve Amazon's reputation for being heavily focused on customer service, analysts said.

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