Talks About Tech Weekly 105: Amazon Fire Phone

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719px-WC-2014-BrasilIt’s one week into soccers biggest event, the World Cup. It seems like even people who are not soccer fans follow the World Cup religiously purely because of its popularity. I wouldn’t call myself a soccer fanatic or even someone who enjoys watching a game of soccer but I have seen myself watching all the big games at this years event.

It may not seem relevant to talk about the World Cup on a technology podcast but there are actually some really cool technologies being used at this years games. All of the matches and main events are being recorded in 4k. Although a 4k stream won’t be available for most games, three games including the final will be streamed in 4k and there will be a highlights video created in 4k too.

Helping me to keep track on the stats, statistics and match fixtures is the official FIFA app. I have been using this app a huge amount over the past week. It is extremely well designed and it allows me to easily look at group scores, match fixtures, team rankings and more. It also gives me a live match interface with live statistics such as score, time, possession and more during a match. It will alert me every time a match starts or finishes, whenever there is a goal and you can configure it for even more alerts if you want.

If you are trying to keep up with the World Cup this year the FIFA app is a must and it’s completely free. Highly recommended.

Amazon Fire Phone
Amazon-Fire-PhoneThis Wednesday Amazon announced their first ever phone, the Fire Phone. I remember rumours of an Amazon phone as far back as two years ago but it never seemed to come to light. The specs for this phone seem promising. A 4.7inch display, 720p display, 13-megapixel camera. These are all very decent, high end specs.

This phone isn’t about specs though. Any manufacturer can make a phone with high end specs but the experience is what really matters. Amazon have introduced quite an innovative new feature that they call dynamic perspective. Many people said that the Fire Phone would have 3D functionality. Dynamic perspective is not quite 3D but it’s a similar idea. There is a camera at each corner of the display which tracks your head as you use the phone. Dynamic perspective apps allow you to peer around the edges of the phone providing a parallax like effect. Apple have already tried to do something like this with iOS 7 but because the Fire Phone tracks your head it will probably be more effective.

The other big feature of this phone is Firefly. This app allows you to scan and identify a product to get information about it and of course buy it on Amazon if it’s available. Despite its similarities to Google Goggles it’s still pretty cool and useful although do expect to get kicked out of a shop if you use this app there to compare prices.

The Fire Phone also runs a custom skin of Android called Fire OS. It has absolutely no similarities to Android. In fact it doesn’t even have the Google Play store available. You have to rely on the Amazon App Store for all of your app needs.

This phone is priced at $199 on a 2 year contract in the U.S or $650 unlocked which is a price that competes with some of the highest end smartphones on the market now. Is the price too steep? We’ll just have to find out. If you live in the U.S you can pre-order the Fire Phone now and it is scheduled to be released in a months time.

YouTube Music Streaming Service
Rumours started a few months ago that YouTube was going to start a premium, paid music streaming service. I think we even talked about it briefly on the show. However, this week YouTube confirmed to the Financial Times that they will be launching such a service this summer. This means that YouTube will be directly competing with Spotify and other music streaming services. It seems like every company wants to get into the music streaming market these days.

An interesting thing about this service is that there will be no free subscription models. You will pay a fixed monthly price and you will be able to listen to ad free music, full albums and you will also be able to listen to music offline if you need that. The biggest question is what will happen to all of the free music available on YouTube currently. Artists use YouTube all the time to promote new albums, tours and more. YouTube say that free music currently available on YouTube will stay that way. However, YouTube have a lot of power and I’m sure that there will be a catch.