We still don't know what Amazon's smartphone is going to cost or what it's name will be when it launches later this year (or even if it will launch), but new details leaked today about how it's going to work.
Amazon plans to use the combination of internal sensors and the 4 front-facing IR cameras to enable a variety of 3D effects. These effects will be present in several of Amazon's own apps as well as some third-party apps available for download from the Amazon Appstore.
Amazon also plans to use the new tech to enable an entirely new way for users to navigate apps and menus on the phone. Users will be able to tilt the phone in various directions to make the display additional information on the screen.
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 smartphone is also reportedly going to use the accelerometer to trigger menus or actions. Tilting the phone one way inside the Kindle app will open the X-Ray menu, while tilting it up or down will make it turn the page.
Moving beyond the sensors, the phone is also going to have several useful ways to take a photo and OCR the text:
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.
Amazon's smartphone is expected to have a 4.7" screen and run a modified version of Android on a SnapDragon CPU. This photo of a prototype may or may not be the phone:
The phone is rumored to have any number of features, but at this point few of the features (besides possibly the 3D parallax effects) actually require the phones most spectacular feature: its 4 IR cameras, which you can see in the photo above.
As I have pointed out before (one, two, three), most of the features mentioned so far only require a single camera and the usual internal sensors found in most smartphones. Pretty much every feature that the Amazon smartphone is rumored to have has already been incorporated in someone else's smartphone or can be accomplished with tech already on the market.
I don't know about you, but that makes me wonder whether all the cameras are really going to show up on the production model. It might have fewer cameras, but on the other hand Amazon might be using the extra cameras to perfect the features that have already been tried on competitor's smartphones.
See, that's the nice thing about Amazon releasing their smartphone long after everyone else; Amazon gets a chance to learn from the competition and create a more polished smartphone.
I, for one, am looking forward to June.