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July 25, 2014

Nora Kelly

Fire, Amazon’s first smartphone, is now available at AT&T stores throughout the US and online at www.att.com/firephone or www.amazon.com/firephone.   

Fire is the only smartphone with Dynamic Perspective and Firefly. Dynamic Perspective is an entirely new sensor system that responds to the way a customer holds, views and moves the phone. The Dynamic Perspective SDK gives developers access to algorithms that identify the X, Y and Z coordinates of the head, enabling a whole new class of apps and games. Firefly quickly recognizes things in the real world—web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, movies, music, and millions of products, and lets the user take action in seconds—all with the simple press of the Firefly button. With the Firefly SDK, developers can extend the use of the Firefly button to enable new actions their users can take based on what they identify. 

If you’re ready to get your app on Fire phone, you can test your app today. For more information on the Fire phone SDKs, click here.

Here is a quick recap of all of the Fire phone posts on the Amazon Apps & Services Blog.

Wednesday, July 16th

Adding Dynamic Perspective to Your Unity Games
We walked through how to quickly add Dynamic Perspective to your existing Unity game.

Thursday July 10th

Top 10 Tips for Optimizing Your Android Apps for Fire Phone
Have an Android app already but not sure where to start with Fire phone?  We offer plenty of tips and tricks to get your app quickly up and running on Fire phone and how take advantage of its new capabilities.

Wednesday, July 9th   

90 Seconds to Find out If Your App Is Ready for the Fire Phone
We covered testing your Fire phone app with our free App Testing Service.

Thursday July 3rd

Extend Amazon Fire’s Home Carousel: Make a Great First Impression
We covered Fire phone’s new enhanced home carousel and how you can expose content from your app directly on the home screen.

Wednesday June 25th

Firefly: Connecting Your Apps to the Physical World
We posted examples of how developers are taking advantage of Fire’s new Firefly capabilities.

Tuesday, June 24th

Limited Time Offer: Earn a Guaranteed $6 CPM on Interstitial Ads from the Amazon Mobile Ad Network
We talked about new Amazon Mobile Ad Network incentives for developers distributing qualified apps on Fire phone.

Monday, June 23rd

Amazon Fire: Design Best Practices for Dynamic Perspective
We covered some of the design principles behind the Fire UX and what you need to know to design the best customer experience possible.

Friday, June 20th

Appstore Developer Select Benefits Expands to Fire Phone: 500K Amazon Coins Offer per Qualifying App
We announced Fire Phone extra benefits for our Appstore Developer Select program.  Amazon will offer 500,000 Amazon Coins ($5,000 value) for each of your qualifying paid apps or apps with in-app purchasing that meet the additional program requirements for Fire Phone (up to a maximum of 3 awards/developer). You can create campaigns via the Promotions Console to give these Coins away to consumers purchasing any of your paid apps or in-app items.

Wednesday, June 18th

Announcing the Amazon Fire Phone: App and Game Experiences Never before Possible
We unveiled Fire, the first phone designed by Amazon.  Fire is the first and only smartphone with Dynamic Perspective and Firefly. With Fire Develop SDKs available now, these new technologies enable you to create more immersive experiences in your apps and games that increase user engagement. Now is the time to submit your apps and games! Apps that are approved by July 18 will be in the Amazon Appstore when Fire ships on July 25th.

 

 

July 22, 2014

David Isbitski

Today, Amazon announced that Amazon Appstore selection has nearly tripled over the past year, and since Fire phone launched, the rate of app submissions to the Amazon Appstore has more than doubled. Read the press release to learn more about innovative new apps and games from developers—including Camouflaj, Craigslist, eBay, Fandango, Fluik, Kik, Magmic, Trove, TV Guide, and WhitePages—all using Fire phone’s unique technical capabilities.

In addition, yesterday, Amazon Game Studios announced two exclusive new games—Saber’s Edge and To-Fu Fury—for Amazon’s new Fire phone. Saber’s Edge and To-Fu Fury are co-developed with partners, Hibernum and HotGen as part of Amazon Game Studios’ mission to build fun, immersive games from the ground up for Amazon devices. These new games were created exclusively for Fire phone and take advantage of Amazon’s groundbreaking Dynamic Perspective.

Ready to get your app on Fire phone? Test your app today.

Here is a quick recap of all of the Fire phone posts on the Amazon Apps & Services Blog.

Wednesday, July 16th

Adding Dynamic Perspective to Your Unity Games
We walked through how to quickly add Dynamic Perspective to your existing Unity game.

Thursday July 10th

Top 10 Tips for Optimizing Your Android Apps for Fire Phone
Have an Android app already but not sure where to start with Fire phone?  We offer plenty of tips and tricks to get your app quickly up and running on Fire phone and how take advantage of its new capabilities.

Wednesday, July 9th   

90 Seconds to Find out If Your App Is Ready for the Fire Phone
We covered testing your Fire phone app with our free App Testing Service.

Thursday July 3rd

Extend Amazon Fire’s Home Carousel: Make a Great First Impression
We covered Fire phone’s new enhanced home carousel and how you can expose content from your app directly on the home screen.

Wednesday June 25th

Firefly: Connecting Your Apps to the Physical World
We posted examples of how developers are taking advantage of Fire’s new Firefly capabilities.

Tuesday, June 24th

Limited Time Offer: Earn a Guaranteed $6 CPM on Interstitial Ads from the Amazon Mobile Ad Network
We talked about new Amazon Mobile Ad Network incentives for developers distributing qualified apps on Fire phone.

Monday, June 23rd

Amazon Fire: Design Best Practices for Dynamic Perspective
We covered some of the design principles behind the Fire UX and what you need to know to design the best customer experience possible.

Friday, June 20th

Appstore Developer Select Benefits Expands to Fire Phone: 500K Amazon Coins Offer per Qualifying App
We announced Fire Phone extra benefits for our Appstore Developer Select program.  Amazon will offer 500,000 Amazon Coins ($5,000 value) for each of your qualifying paid apps or apps with in-app purchasing that meet the additional program requirements for Fire Phone (up to a maximum of 3 awards/developer). You can create campaigns via the Promotions Console to give these Coins away to consumers purchasing any of your paid apps or in-app items.

Wednesday, June 18th

Announcing the Amazon Fire Phone: App and Game Experiences Never before Possible
We unveiled Fire, the first phone designed by Amazon.  Fire is the first and only smartphone with Dynamic Perspective and Firefly. With Fire Develop SDKs available now, these new technologies enable you to create more immersive experiences in your apps and games that increase user engagement. Now is the time to submit your apps and games! Apps that are approved by July 18 will be in the Amazon Appstore when Fire ships on July 25th.

 

 

July 16, 2014

Jesse Freeman

Introduction

For game developers, Fire’s Dynamic Perspective SDK opens up all kinds of new ways to let players interact with your game’s environment. The phone’s four dedicated cameras offer x, y and z data that you can use to determine where the player’s head is in relation to the device’s screen. This allows you to shift the perspective to reveal new angles on what would have otherwise been a flat image. Over the course of this tutorial, we will walk through how you can convert a simple splash screen to take advantage of a perspective camera, add Dynamic Perspective and create a parallax layering effect to give the scene more of an immersive feel. Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at how the splash screen appears before modifying it:

The above splash screen was built using Sprites in Unity 4.5 and setup with the Orthographic camera. You can download the original Unity project from HERE.

Getting Started

Once you have the project downloaded, open up the Splash scene inside of the Scenes folder so we can walk through how everything is set up.

Here you can see we have 5 sprites and our main camera. You’ll notice that our camera is set to Orthographic. We also have a black background to handle the outside areas around our artwork. Finally, each of our GameObjects has their own custom layer order so they render correctly.

If you run the project, you should see that our player moves up and down (appearing to float), and the start text blinks on and off. Inside of the Scripts folder you’ll find two scripts – “Blink” and “FloatEffect” that make this animation possible.

Now that you have a general understanding of how the project is set up, let’s start making the modifications to work with the perspective camera and lay down the foundation for adding in Fire’s Dynamic Perspective SDK.

Working with the Perspective Camera

Step 1. Select the Main Camera from the Hierarchy tab and change its Projection from Orthographic to Perspective.

You’ll see in the Camera Preview window that everything becomes smaller since the new perspective camera’s Field of View is set to the default value of 60.

Step 2. To start, let’s setup the game to run at the native resolution of the Fire phone (we’ll change this later). Go into the Game tab and select the resolution drop down. We’ll need to add a new resolution called 720p. It will look like this:

Step 3. Select the 720P resolution we just added and re-select the Main Camera so we can play with the Field of View until we find something we like.

Here I have set the Field of View to 30. Now the artwork is centered in the display correctly. Next, we’ll want to move things around a bit so that we add some depth to the scene.

Step 4. Go back into the Scene tab and change the following GameObject’s Z indexes like so:

GameObject

Z Position

BackgroundImage

1

BackgroundMask

-0.25

ClickToContinue

-0.5

Player

-1

Title

-0.5

You should now see there is a difference between what you see in the Scene view (Object A, Left) and what you see in the Game tab preview (Object B, Right) due to the perspective camera and the new Z positions we just setup.

In the game, the objects closer to the camera such as the player, the title, and the “click to start” text are now larger. It’s important to keep in mind that you won’t see these perspective differences in the Scene tab so it’s best to do our layout work in the Game tab.

Step 5. Now we can start testing out how our camera will react as it changes position and rotation in preparation for adding the Dynamic Perspective logic. We’ll run the game and be manually changing the values of the camera on the fly.

Here you can see we are testing by modifying the X position and X,Y rotation values of the Main Camera to simulate our scene being moved all the way to the right-hand side of the screen.

It’s also important to note that we will use this technique to determine our minimum and maximum camera values of the scene inside of Unity itself. This is not something I advise doing on the hardware because moving the phone while trying to test it distorts the view. Instead, I recommend you test all the measurements in Unity. Before we move on, let’s make a few corrections. We’ll want to alter the Main Camera’s Z position to move it closer to the graphics and we’ll need to readjust the Field of View as well.

Step 6. While in the Game tab, you can preview the changes you just made. Change the Main Camera’s Z position to -4.2 to bring the camera in closer, and reset the Field of View to 67.2. This will center the screen better and help give us a better effect later on when we add in Dynamic Perspective. You’ll want to play around with the camera based on you own needs to find the ideal zoom level as well as distortion when the camera rotates based on the head tracking position.

You’ll notice that the perspective is a lot more dramatic. Now when the user is moving their head or the phone as the game is tracking their head position. Widening the Field of View and moving the Camera closer to the objects in the scene will create a little more distortion at the far ends of the screen helping emphasize the effect.

Step 7. Let’s make sure we stop the game, permanently make the Position Z and Field of View changes, and save the scene.

Correcting Layout for Perspective

Step 8. While our GameObjects look OK in their current position, we should make a few adjustments to ensure they stay in place as the camera moves around. To get started, make the following modifications:

GameObject

X Position

Y Position

BackgroundImage

0.44

0

BackgroundMask

-0.35

-3.25

ClickToContinue

1.8

-1.57

Player

-1.15

0

Title

1.6

-1.05

Now all of our GameObjects are aligned a little higher on the screen to account for the shift in perspective. In a production game, you would want to detect if the Dynamic Perspective API is available via HeadTrackingReceiver.isAvailable() and possibly move the camera down a bit to compensate for the higher shift in perspective. You can just lower the camera since the code we’ll add will automatically reset the camera for you, but we don’t want to yet.

At this point you can run the game, play around with the X and Y Positions, and see the rotations of the camera. This will give you a sense for how everything will look when we add in our Dynamic Perspective logic.

Setting Up the Amazon Head Tracking Asset Package

Step 9. Now we are ready to import the libraries that will enable us to add Dynamic Perspective logic to our splash screen. You’ll find the Unity asset files in the Fire Phone SDK. From inside of Unity, select the Asset drop down and pick Import Package then Custom Package.

Step 10. You’ll need to find the Fire Phone SDK Unity Asset Package from the SDK folder. Once you select it, you’ll be presented with the following screen.

Here we are just going to import everything in the package. While we’ll only be focusing on the AmazonHeadTracking Plugin, you can also add Fire phone’s Motion Gestures to your game as well to add in support for those APIs. Once installed, you will now have a plugin folder along with the source code and sample scenes you’ll need to test out all of the features of the Fire hardware in Unity.

 

Creating the Dynamic Perspective Logic

Step 11. Let’s create a new script called HeadTrackingCamera. We’ll be using C# for the Script. Once you have the script open, add a few properties to the top of the class.

public float movementScale = 5.0f;

private Vector3 newPosition;

Step 12. The first property will represent the multiplier we will use on the X and Y position we’ll receive from the Dynamic Perspective API. The newPosition property will store the updated X and Y values for the camera after we do our calculations on the raw Dynamic Perspective data. Now add the following to the Start() method:

newPosition = transform.position;

This will save our initial camera position, and, moving forward, we will modify the X and Y properties of this vector instead of creating a new one from scratch.

Step 13. In our Update() method we are going to need to test that the Dynamic Perspective API is working and that we can access its data so add the following:

void Update() {
if (HeadTrackingReceiver.isAvailable &&
(HeadTrackingReceiver.lastEvent != null && HeadTrackingReceiver.lastEvent.isTracking)) {
}
}

Here you’ll see that we can talk directly to the HeadTrackingReciever class and access its data. We’ll be testing if it’s available, that the last event isn’t null and that it is still tracking the user. We want this to shut down if it stops tracking the user’s head.

Step 14. Now we can add our position calculations. Add the following inside of the new conditional we just created:

newPosition.x = Mathf.Clamp(HeadTrackingReceiver.lastEvent.x * movementScale, -.7f, .5f);
newPosition.y = Mathf.Clamp(HeadTrackingReceiver.lastEvent.y * movementScale, -.2f, .5f);
transform.position = newPosition;

We are getting the last event’s X and Y values, multiplying it by the movementScale we set up at the top of the class and using a Clamp() to keep it within a certain range of values. I have figured out the optimal values for you based on how far the scene will look when at the edges of the screen, which should help keep our scene in the camera’s view later on when we add the rotation to the camera.

Step 15. Before we test, we’ll need to add this script and the HeadTrackingReciever, which samples for new data every update during the Unity game loop, to the camera.

Step 16. At this point you are ready to test your game on the Fire device. Make sure Unity is set to Android as your platform and do a Build and Run of the game.

When you run this for the first time, you may be asked to locate your Android SDK. Just point Unity to the root of the SDK folder. You may also get the following error:

 

If you haven’t already done this, you’ll need to change the Bundle Identifier. From the Build Settings menu, select Player Settings, then change the default value of the Bundle Identifier.

Also, while you are in the Settings for Android tab, change the rotation to Landscape Left.

Finally, save your Android build to its own folder in your project.

Once you have the Scene deployed, you should now be able test out the Dynamic Perspective.

Step 17. We’ll also need to add a few properties to the class to make this work:

public float smooth = 1.0F;
public float tiltAngle = 2.0F;

Step 18. After running the project on the phone, you may notice that the parallax effect isn’t very dramatic. While it’s a cool effect, we can greatly enhance it by simply modifying the rotation of the camera in addition to changing its position. Below where we set the new transform value, let’s add this code:

float tiltAroundX = HeadTrackingReceiver.lastEvent.x * tiltAngle;
float tiltAroundY = HeadTrackingReceiver.lastEvent.y * tiltAngle;
Quaternion target = Quaternion.Euler(tiltAroundX, tiltAroundY, 0);
transform.rotation = Quaternion.Slerp(transform.rotation, target, Time.deltaTime * smooth);

Step 19. Now if you re-run the project on the phone, the effect will be a little more dramatic since we are also rotating the camera to match the shift in X and Y position.

Conclusion

At this point, you now have a reusable script you can apply to your camera that takes advantage of Dynamic Perspective in your Unity games. You don’t have to limit this to just the splash screen; I’ve been playing around with adding it to my main game scenes as well wherever I can take advantage of subtle shifts in perspective. When done correctly, the Dynamic Perspective effect is incredibly powerful. Use it to show off parts of the scene that may have normally been blocked by other items in the foreground, or just as a subtle way to add a little more depth to your Unity scenes. I also suggest checking out the Motion Gesture examples included in the Head Tracking Asset Package to add peek and tilt events to your game as well for menus and even to control elements in the game itself.

Now Is the Time to Submit Your Apps for Fire

Create immersive apps that respond to the way a customer holds, views and moves the phone. We have updated Appstore Developer Select, Amazon Mobile Ads API, and Amazon Testing Services with more incentives:

  • Appstore Developer Select: Optimize your apps for Fire phone and get enhanced merchandising and 500,000 Amazon Coins incentives for your customers. Get the details here.
  • Amazon Mobile Ads API: Developers earn $6 for every thousand interstitial ads displayed across any supported device in August and September (up to one million impressions per app per month) when they distribute their apps on Fire phones and send the first ad request from a qualified app. Get the details here.
  • Amazon App Testing Service: Most Android apps just work on Fire mobile devices. Test your app's compatibility in 90 seconds by dragging and dropping your Android APK into our testing tool. Sign up for a free developer account to test your app's look and feel on devices and get the results within 6 hours. Test your app now.

Now is the time to submit your apps and games! Apps that are submitted by July 18 and approved will be in the Amazon Appstore when Fire ships on July 25.

Fire Developer Resources:

July 10, 2014

David Isbitski

With the launch of the Fire, Amazon’s first Android-based phone, you can now create experiences where customers interact in an entirely new way with your apps. With Dynamic Perspective, apps can have peek, tilt and zoom capabilities all based on customer head movements. You can also use the Firefly button to identify virtually anything and enable actions your customers can take based on what they identify. By enhancing or optimizing your apps for Fire, you have the opportunity to enable experiences that combine realistic visuals and bring new depth to what customers can do on a phone. And while you think about the new experiences you can offer your user, you can get the current version of you app running on Fire with little or no modification. Here are 10 tips to help you get your apps running on Fire phone today!

Tip 1 – Register for a Free Amazon Developer Account

Fire uses the Amazon Appstore exclusively, and we’ve streamlined the process to make it easy to submit your app. Registration is free, fast, has no annual subscription cost, and supports both free and paid apps. Once your Fire phone app is submitted you also have the option to distribute the apps across Kindle Fire, Fire TV and Android devices simply by selecting those device targets in the developer console. The boxes indicating your intent to publish on other devices will be pre-checked in the console. Most Fire apps will also work on Kindle Fire tablets and Android devices, so just keep those checked if you are not sure. To get started:

  1. Sign in or register for a free developer Amazon Apps & Games Developer Portal account. If you do not already have one, you will be prompted to create an account
  2. Submit your payment and tax information if you intend to sell a paid app or offer in app items for purchase.

Tip 2 – Download the Fire SDKs

Fire phone development APIs fall into two categories: Dynamic Perspective SDK and Firefly SDK. Both SDKs are available through the standard Android SDK Manager as a single add-on and support a variety of programming languages.

To download the add-on simply open the Android SDK Manager from a command line or from within Android Studio and do the following:

  1. Add the following user-defined site, in the Manage Add-on Sites dialog: https://s3.amazonaws.com/android-sdk-manager/redist/addon.xml
  2. Expand Android 4.2.2 (API 17) and click SDK Platform and Amazon Fire Phone SDK Addon.

Macintosh HD:Users:dave:Desktop:Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 9.34.32 PM.png

  1. Accept license agreement and install the packages.
  2. Set your project up in Eclipse and specify Amazon Fire Phone SDK in the Compile With drop-down.

The SDK includes everything you need to get started including multiple sample projects and Android Studio gradle support.

You also have the option to download the Fire Phone SDK directly without installing the add-on here.

Tip 3 – Test Your APK compatibility with the Amazon Testing Service

Fire is based on the latest version of Fire OS 3.5, which is based on Android API level 17. Android app compatibility is supported on Fire OS, so if an app runs on Android it can run on Fire with little or no effort. Simply drag and drop your Android APK and receive feedback on your app's compatibility within 90 seconds. You will also have access to additional Fire phone test results that enable you to see how your app looks and performs on Fire phone. The test results are presented in 6 hours and include carousel, peek and tilt actions.

Checking APK compatibility and submitting can be done in just a few steps:

  1. Drag and drop your APK to the app-testing control here.
  2. If your app passes testing, you can submit it to the Amazon Appstore right away. If testing reveals any issues, you will see a list of issues to address. 

Tip 4 – Become Familiar with the Fire Phone Design Guidelines

Fire represents a huge leap forward in mobile user experiences. As a developer, you’ll want to design the best customer experience possible for this new platform. To help you achieve that, we’ve outlined the core design principles that will allow you to take advantage of Fire’s unique Dynamic Perspective features in our guide here.

The good news is that if you are an Android developer your app will work on Fire with little or no work, and as you will see, just a few modifications to your app’s user experience will let it better take advantage of all that the Fire SDK has to offer.

For additional best practices for designing Fire phone user experiences check out our blog post here.

Tip 5 - Add the Fire Phone Android Theme to Your App

The quickest optimization you can make is to set the application Theme in your Android app’s AndroidManifest.xml file. This updated Amazon theme will set app fonts, color pallet and skinned controls to match Fire phone’s design guidelines.

Simply set the android:theme argument to the application section of the Android Manifest to Theme.DeviceDefault, as introduced in Android 4.0, and your application will pick up the skinned controls that match Fire phone.

Tip 6 – Utilize the Fire Foundation Controls

The Fire Foundation Controls are included in the Dynamic Perspective SDK and give your app 2D controls designed and built for use with the device. These controls currently include SidePanel, HeaderNavigationBar, TabBar, ToolBar and MediaController. All of these controls can be implemented in three steps just as you would with any Android control.

Step 1: Prepare the Android Manifest
The Android manifest needs to be modified to include a <uses-library> tag to load the Foundation Controls library (in addition to setting the theme as mentioned in Tip 3).


 

Step 2. Place the control in your XML Layout file

In this example Android layout file we are referencing the new header navigation bar and utilizing two additional files. Strings.xml will contain the names of our menu items and header_menu.xml file defines the menu items for the HeaderNavigationBar's actions menu.

XML layout for HeaderNavigationBar inside of a RelativeLayout view:

Strings.xml containing menu item names:

Header_menu.xml containing action menu items:

Step 3. Implementing the Control

All of the APIs for Fire phone will be installed into your <Android_SDK>/sdk/add-ons/addon-amazon_fire_phone_sdk_addon-amazon-17 folder including the SDK samples. To access the controls you will need to reference them from your own app. For example, to implement the HeaderNavigationBar make sure you reference the amazon.widget.* package and implement the control. The following code shows how to inflate the XML layout into a view, obtain a reference to the HeaderNavigationBar, use the reference to set a click listener on the actions menu, and implement up navigation.

In the case of the HeaderNavigationBar we will also disable the Android title bar before inflating the layout. We can also programmatically change menu items by setting properties directly on the HeaderNavigationBar like so:

For more details on implementing Foundation Controls in your Android app check out our Implementing Foundation Controls for Fire phone guide here.

Tip 7 - Implement a Side Panel Layout

One easily identifiable layout characteristic of Amazon Fire apps is the Side Panel layout included as part of the Fire Foundation Controls. Implementing the Side Panel layout will go a long way to giving your app that Fire phone look and feel.

With this control, no matter what the current view in your app, a user can always access your menu or a context aware page just by executing a quick swipe or gesture.

For example, doing a quick right-flick of the phone (or swiping in from the left) can expose a navigation pane. You can also put a context-sensitive pane a flick away in the other direction. In the picture above, the middle content panel is a Music Store. The left panel is a navigation panel, and the right panel is context sensitive, and when the user is looking at music in the content panel, the right panel will show recommendations.

SidePanel Layout works very similar to the HeaderNavigationBar described above. You will need to reference the EAC library in your Android Manifest like above, reference the same amazon.widget library in your java code and then define the left, right and content panels in your XML layout file.

A full Side Panel sample project is included with the Fire SDK under the /Samples/SidePanels folder and you can get more details about implementing a Side Panel layout here

If you don't have a Fire phone you can also use the simulator included in the SDK to test your SidePanel implementations.

Tip 8 – Adding Depth and Perspective to Your Android App Interface

In addition to the 2D Foundation Controls, Dynamic Perspective includes a rich set of APIs and Controls to help developers incorporate peek, tilt and zoom capabilities within their apps while adding a sense of realistic depth and perspective. These controls work behind the scenes with Fire’s advanced camera and sensors to automatically adjust their appearance based on how your application is being viewed. These new UI Controls are part of the Euclid package included in the Fire phone SDK.

For the most part, Euclid controls are very similar to their Android and Foundation Controls counterparts. Euclid controls retain the name of the original base control, but with a "Z" prepended to the name. For example, a Button control becomes a ZButton control.

       

Figure 1- Example of Euclid Controls. From left to right: ZCheckbox, ZButton, ZSwitch and ZRadioButton

Euclid simplifies the process of adding 3D effects to your Android apps. Because most Euclid layout and widget classes are derived from either standard Android or Amazon Foundation Control classes, you are probably already familiar with the most common methods and attributes of Euclid controls and should be able to convert your app to use the new Dynamic Perspective UI with few code updates.

The following aspects of a control remain unchanged when you swap a stock Android control for its Euclid equivalent, such as changing a Button to a ZButton:

  • Click handler methods: User interaction is handled via your existing onClick() method or View.OnClickListener object.
  • Screen position methods: Layout in the X and Y planes follow the same rules as 2D widgets.
  • Layout methods: Euclid controls follow Android rules for scaling, sizing, and padding, and auto-resize based on layout parameters.
  • Support methods: Euclid controls often inherit Android widget support for testing, accessibility, and localization.

The biggest difference between Euclid and 2D widgets is how their visual assets are produced and rendered. These differences provide new behaviors but also set some limits on what you can change. Euclid widgets are artist-created textured mesh files, including collections of vertices, edges and faces that define the shape of 3D objects.

Although you can set the color of a 3D widget, you cannot add a border, set a custom background, or make changes in View.OnDraw(). However, 3D controls do provide the same access to behaviors such as animations and head tracking without additional code.

The following summary highlights the changes between 2D and 3D controls:

  • Layout parameters: 3D object layout parameters include depth in addition to height and width. While 2D Android layouts are a nested hierarchy of flat rectangles, 3D layouts are a nested hierarchy of rectangular boxes.
  • Delegate classes: All 3D methods are passed to delegate classes to handle 3D operations, such as layout and animation. You do not need to extend the delegate classes unless you want to modify the stock control animations or layout.
  • Missing or overridden class methods: Some 2D Android base class methods have been removed from the 3D controls because these methods are either not relevant to a 3D environment or have been replaced with true 3D paradigms. For example, stock Android controls support rotation using a faux 3D mode, whereas Euclid replaces these methods with a simplified 3D orientation method.
  • Draw method: Because they are not rendered dynamically, 3D controls do not directly use the Draw method. Instead, you must build a tree of transformations and execute a drawing command using ZSceneNode and ZRenderable. This retained approach better matches the model of the underlying 3D graphics library. Note that this change is transparent if you are using the stock 3D controls in the toolkit.
  • Unsupported base class attributes: Some 2D base class attributes are not supported in 3D, such as the Android faux shadow parameter. See the API reference documentation for information about specific control attributes.
  • 3D-specific methods and attributes: 3D controls have 3D-specific methods and attributes, such as the ability to supply layout attributes using orientation_Zin a linear layout or depthGravity.

For more information on implementing Euclid controls be sure to check out our Dynamic Perspective UI Migration Guide here. For suggestions on when to use the standard Android widgets, 2D controls and the new Euclid controls check out our comparison matrix here.

Tip 9 – Firefly SDK: Apps that Discover the World around You

With the Firefly SDK, developers can build apps that recognize real world objects - QR and bar codes, artwork, songs, movies and more - and let customers interact with them. Firefly combines Amazon's deep catalog of physical and digital content with multiple image, text and audio recognition technologies to quickly identify over 100 million movies, TV episodes, songs and products. It can also recognize URLs, email addresses and phone numbers. Customers simply press the Firefly button to discover helpful information and take action in seconds. You can use the Firefly SDK to supplement item identification or build actionable options for customers after an item is recognized. For example, iHeartRadio used the Firefly SDK’s built-in music recognizer and music database to identify a song playing. Then they built their own Firefly action to create a station based on the song Firefly recognized.

Integration with Firefly requires the creation of a plug in. You can get complete details on implementing a Firefly plugin on our developer portal here.

Tip 10 – New Developer Incentives for Fire Phone Apps

The immersive apps you create for Fire phone are also eligible for new developer promotions. We have updated Appstore Developer Select and Amazon Mobile Ads API with more incentives. 

  • Appstore Developer Select: Optimize your apps for Fire phone and get enhanced merchandising and 500,000 Amazon Coins incentives for your customers. Get the details here.
  • Amazon Mobile Ads API: Developers earn $6 for every thousand interstitial ads displayed across any supported device in August and September (up to one million impressions per app per month) when they distribute their apps on Fire phones and send the first ad request from a qualified app. Get the details here.

Now is the time to submit your apps and games! Apps that are submitted and approved by July 18 will be in the Amazon Appstore when Fire ships on July 25.

Be sure to check out these additional Fire phone developer resources:

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

 

July 09, 2014

Paul Cutsinger

Do you want your app or game to be on the new Fire phone?  Most Android apps already work on Fire phone. Take 90 seconds to find out if your app is ready by using the Amazon App Testing Service. If any incompatibilities are found while testing, you’ll get a detailed report with guidance on how to remedy the situation.

To help you get started, here’s a step-by-step guide and a video that walks you through the process.

1) Go to the developer portal

To start, head over to the developer portal at (https://developer.amazon.com/welcome). All you need is your app’s .APK.

2) Drag your App’s .APK onto the tester

3) Get compatibility test results in 90 seconds

Most Android apps work on Fire mobile devices without change. If the tests do find anything that could prevent publication, you’ll receive specific suggestions and be directed to documentation that will help you make the necessary changes.

4) We’ll also test it on the device


You can also use the testing service to get several screenshots so you can see what your app looks like on Fire phone, as well as a log and information about CPU and memory usage. These tests take about 6 hours.

If you’re signed into the developer portal, this will happen automatically and the results will be available on your App Testing service dashboard: https://developer.amazon.com/tya/dashboard.html.

If you don’t have a developer account yet, just enter an email address and the results will be sent to you.

The top section of the results page includes a list of screenshots. Click through them to see what your app looks like on the right.

Below that are sections that show you memory and CPU usage and your log during the test.

Macintosh HD:Users:cutsinge:Desktop:Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 3.33.54 PM.png

5) Now Is the Time to Submit Your Apps for Fire

Once you’re ready to submit your app, begin the submission process by clicking the orange button in the middle of the screen or by going to: https://developer.amazon.com/public/support/submitting-your-app

To submit, you’ll need to sign in. Developer accounts are free so go ahead and make one if you haven’t already.

Create immersive apps that respond to the way a customer holds, views and moves the phone. We have updated Appstore Developer Select and Amazon Mobile Ads API with more incentives:

  • Amazon Developer Select: Optimize your apps for Fire phone and get enhanced merchandising and 500,000 Amazon Coins incentives for your customers. Get the details here.
  • Amazon Mobile Ads API: Developers earn $6 for every thousand interstitial ads displayed across any supported device in August and September (up to one million impressions per app per month) when they distribute their apps on Fire phones and send the first ad request from a qualified app. Get the details here.
  • Amazon App Testing Service: Most Android apps just work on Amazon devices. Test your app's compatibility in 90 seconds by dragging and dropping your Android APK into our testing tool. Sign up for a free developer account to test your app's look and feel on devices and get the results within 6 hours. Test your app now.

Now is the time to submit your apps and games! Apps that are submitted by July 18 and approved will be in the Amazon Appstore when Fire ships on July 25.

Fire Developer Resources:

Get a free Amazon Appstore developer account

Fire Getting Started Guide

SDK downloads

@PaulCutsinger

July 03, 2014

Paul Cutsinger

Fire proactively brings your apps and content to customers with the enhanced home carousel.

Fire’s home screen includes several capabilities to help customers do things quickly. Beyond fast and predictable navigation with the right and left panels and the app grid, the home carousel helps customers get right back into your app.

A description...

Weather app showing the next three day’s weather

In the screenshot to the left, the built in weather app is shown within the home carousel.

Each app has the ability to show a list or grid of information and actions in the carousel widget. You can see this right below the weather app’s icon. Because it gives you nearly half the screen, an app can easily show three items on the screen and the customer can scroll to more.

The Weather app has designed their widget to show the weather for the next three days. You can see the day, the temperature and a visual forecast. Tapping the Weather app widget triggers the action associated to it, which takes you straight to that day’s weather in the app.

You can drive customer engagement for your app by designing a widget to have the information and actions that are most interesting to your customers.

 

 

Grabbing Your Customer’s Attention

The carousel widget enables you to expose content related to your app without the customer needing to launch your app. You customize the user interface to keep customers informed even when they’re not in your app and then, give them easy access back into your app.

Developers often track engagement metrics like 1-day, 7-day and 30-day retention and they work to increase the number of people that use their app day to day. Of course this starts with interesting content, but it’s also important to draw people back into the app using a devices services like Game Circle and Notifications . Now, with the release of Fire, there are two new ways to augment your app: Firefly and the Active Carousel Widget.

The Active Carousel Widget contains a list or grid and you can also configure it to show more information when the customer uses peek. The examples below show how a widget might look as a simple list or with more detail like icons, descriptive text or star ratings.

A description...A description...A description...

Beyond seeing information from your app, customers can also tap an item in the widget to launch your app. The widget communicates with your app through intents that you define. Your app manages all changes to the widget, including the information shown and the behavior it invokes. When the customer taps an item, they are taken directly to the right place in the app – it can start an activity, or broadcast the intent.

Macintosh HD:Users:cutsinge:Downloads:duke pics:notification.png

Your app can also display a numeric badge on your icon for things like unread messages, new deals or fresh content.

So, with Fire, you have more ways to attract your customer’s attention and to engage with them.

What Developers are Already Building

Zillow

A description...

Zillow shows a list of nearby and recently searched homes

Zillow is a home and real estate marketplace helping customers find and share information for making home-related decisions and connecting with professionals. 

 

The Zillow widget shows an updated list of open houses in the area and up-to-date details on homes from a customer’s saved searches.

 

This is a great example of bringing engaging information to the surface. When customers notice an interesting house, they can tap it and be taken right to it’s listing within the app so they can immediately learn more it.

 

Zillow also integrated with Dynamic Perspective, the right and left panels and peek.

 

 

StubHub

A description...

StubHub shows a list of recently viewed events

StubHub allows fans to buy and sell event tickets.

 

In StubHub’s widget, customers can see recently viewed and upcoming events. They can tap to see all the details. So, you can imagine a scenario where a customer was browsing upcoming shows but wasn’t really ready to make a purchase. With the design that StubHub chose, customers will be reminded of events and given the opportunity to get right back into the app to make a purchase.

 

StubHub also extended Firefly so that they can connect people to events when they’re listening to music. If you’d like to learn more about Firefly and how StubHub integrated with it, you can read about them in the Firefly blog post.

Terraria

A description...

Terraria shows a list of active worlds

Terraria is an action-packed adventure game that recently came to Fire TV and Kindle Fire.

 

They use the widget to give customers one tap access to their saved worlds. If you’re building a game, you may choose to do something like this or show leaderboard and achievements or even things such as which friends are on-line.

 

Terraria took full advantage of the new APIs in the phone. They support the Right and Left Panels  to give customers one-handed shortcut access to their inventory. They used Dynamic Perspective to enable looking around the map and zooming just by moving closer or farther from the screen.

 

The designs for each of the examples above are intentionally different. They’re tailored to that app and it’s customers. Because this is about how you can engage with your customers, it’s important to think through the scenarios that would interest and bring them back to your experience.

Creating and Managing a Carousel Widget

For carousel widget development, you’ll be interacting with the HomeManager to create a widget, update a widget, react to taps, define the empty widget behavior and add numeric badges to your app icon.

Here’s an overview of the code you’ll need to create a widget. Please see more detail in the SDK documentation.

//Instantiate your widget

	GroupedListHeroWidget listWidget = new GroupedListHeroWidget();

//create list entries

ListEntry listEntry = new ListEntry();
listEntry.setVisualStyle(SHOPPING);
listEntry.setPrimaryText("Hello, world!");
listEntry.setPrimaryIcon(ICON_URI);

//add your list entries to a list

List listEntries = new ArrayList();
listEntries.add(listEntry);

//add your list to a group and add the group to the widget

Group group = new Group();
group.setListEntries(listEntries);
listWidget.addGroup(0, group);

//finally, add your widget to the Carousel by replacing the default system widget

private HomeManager mHomeManager;
protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
  super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
  // ... create widget
  mHomeManager = HomeManager.getInstance(this);
  mHomeManager.updateWidget(listWidget);
}

You can then update the content of your app widget at any time. If the widget is in focus when you update it, the new data appears immediately. Otherwise, the new data appears the next time the widget is created. If you are using a list display, you can add, update, or remove items from the list incrementally without forcing a refresh of the entire list. Incremental updates are animated. 

Adding a Numeric Badge

// Pass a value (int) to the HomeManager’s updateNumericBadge method.

mHomeManager.updateNumericBadge(38); //numbers over 99 are shown as 99+

// hide numeric badge by setting value to zero

mHomeManager.updateNumericBadge(0);

Reacting to User Taps

At the time you create an item you can define an intent that gets sent when that item is tapped. You can optionally include extra string data that identifies your item to give the receiving activity the ability to know which item was tapped. Use the item's setContentIntent(HeroWidgetIntent) method to set an intent.

HeroWidgetActivityStarterIntent intent =
  new HeroWidgetActivityStarterIntent(
    FULLY_QUALIFIED_CLASS_NAME,
    EXTRA_STRING_DATA
  );
listEntry.setContentIntent(intent);

If you use a HeroWidgetIntent intent, you need to declare a broadcast receiver in the AndroidManifest.xml. A broadcast receiver registered at runtime does not receiveHeroWidgetIntent intents. (See example Manifest and broadcast handling code)

Using the API Simulator Tool

The Fire Phone SDK includes an API Simulator tool for developers who do not have access to a Fire phone. The API Simulator enables you to test basic app features, such as side panels and home carousel widgets using a regular Android device or emulator.

The API Simulator Tool page explains, step by step, how to configure your app for use with the API Simulator and test your app's use of Peek, Tilt, panels and the home carousel widget on a stock Android device or emulator.

Now Is the Time to Submit Your Apps for Fire

Create immersive apps that respond to the way a customer holds, views and moves the phone. We have updated Appstore Developer Select, Amazon Mobile Ads API, and Amazon Testing Services with more incentives:

  • Amazon Developer Select: Optimize your apps for Fire phone and get enhanced merchandising and 500,000 Amazon Coins incentives for your customers. Get the details here.
  • Amazon Mobile Ads API: Developers earn $6 for every thousand interstitial ads displayed across any supported device in August and September (up to one million impressions per app per month) when they distribute their apps on Fire phones and send the first ad request from a qualified app. Get the details here.
  • Amazon App Testing Service: Most Android apps just work on Fire mobile devices. Test your app's compatibility in 90 seconds by dragging and dropping your Android APK into our testing tool. Sign up for a free developer account to test your app's look and feel on devices and get the results within 6 hours.  Test your app now.

Now is the time to submit your apps and games! Apps that are submitted by July 18 and approved will be in the Amazon Appstore when Fire ships on July 25.

Fire Developer Resources:

Get a free Amazon Appstore developer account

Fire Getting Started Guide

SDK downloads

@PaulCutsinger

 

June 25, 2014

Paul Cutsinger

Fire, the first smartphone designed by Amazon, introduces a new technology called Firefly which enables customers to quickly identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus over 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs, and products. Customers simply press and hold the dedicated Firefly button to discover useful information and take action in seconds. 

With the Firefly SDK, developers can build apps that recognize real world objects—music, movies and more—and let customers interact with them. As a developer, you can create more immersive experiences that increase both engagement and the frequency of app use. The Firefly SDK comes with built-in recognizers and databases for products, music, movies, URLs, and websites, as well as built-in actions such as dialing a phone number, looking up an object on Amazon or going to a website. Developers can use the Firefly SDK to take advantage of the built-in recognizers, databases and actions.

A New Way to Engage with Customers

An important success metric for any app is engagement, a measure of how frequently and how long people use your app. You need to find ways to bring customers back day after day. Building a Firefly-enabled app is a new technique you can use to get customers to discover your app, sign up and then to come back frequently.

A Firefly-enabled app delivers actionable options (for example, customers can buy concert tickets for a recognized artist) or supplemental item information (for example, the amount of calories in a drink). Customers then have fast and easy access back to your apps, services and brand when they’re actively engaged and interested.

How Developers are Already Using Firefly

Here are a few examples of how iHeartRadio, StubHub and MyFitnessPal have made use of Firefly to give their apps greater exposure to both new and returning customers. All of these examples start when the customer activates Firefly. They do this by pushing and holding the Firefly button on the left side of Fire. Once an item is identified, a list of actions showing the Firefly-enabled apps is offered.

iHeartRadio

iHeartRadio enables customers to listen to live radio stations, create their own artist or song-based custom station from a catalog of more than 19 million free songs, or tune in to thousands of shows and personalities on demand for free. When paired with Firefly, the customer can identify a song with one button press and then directly launch iHeartRadio to create their own station based on that artist.

The team at iHeartRadio utilized the Firefly SDK’s built-in music recognizer and music database to identify songs.  They built their own Firefly action to create iHeartRadio Custom Stations based on the artist and song that Firefly recognizes. “Our integration allows listeners using Firefly to seamlessly discover music in a whole new way,” said Brian Lakamp, President of Digital for Clear Channel/iHeartRadio.  “The Firefly SDK implementation enables music lovers to quickly dive into an iHeartRadio custom experience featuring a variety of songs similar to the one they just heard with just a touch of a button.”

StubHub

StubHub allows fans to buy and sell event tickets. StubHub used the Firefly SDK to let customers identify songs playing in the background and take various actions. “StubHub used the FireFly SDK and the built-in song recognizer, added a Firefly database of concerts and created a ticket purchase action so when customers hear a song in the background they can find out if the band is playing in their area and buy tickets,” said Brendan Weinstein, Android Development Lead at StubHub. “We extended the experience further by using the Dynamic Perspective SDK to bring users right into the concert—letting them look around a stadium or arena to get the feel for the specific seat they are interested in.”

This is a new way for customers to use the StubHub services. When they use Firefly to identify a song or an artist, they have direct access to the Firefly-enabled StubHub app and can be browsing upcoming events before the song is even over.

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a free and easy health and fitness system that helps you attain fitness goals. Using Firefly’s built-in product recognizers, the team at MyFitnessPal has added custom actions to give customers nutrition information and to help them easily track their daily calorie intake.

When a customer scans a physical product, barcode or QR code for a food item, MyFitnessPal’s actions and extra information about that food are offered to the customer. They can then tap the item and go directly and add that food item to their diary in the MyFitnessPal app.

Improved discovery of your apps and services

In all of these examples, the app and its services were activated in the context of the customer’s activity. They didn’t need to open an app and navigate to the right screen. Instead, they were able to identify a song, product, barcode, QR code or movie soundtrack, and then launch directly into the app they wanted to use.

Firefly-enabled apps have more options for bringing in new customers and then engaging with them more frequently. Better engagement leads to higher customer satisfaction and ultimately, to better revenue.

Start Building now

The SDK for Firefly includes the library, developer guides, docs and several samples to get you going.

Additional Fire Developer resources:

Paul Cutsinger

@PaulCutsinger

 

June 24, 2014

David Isbitski

The Amazon Mobile Ad Network is offering a new incentive for developers to join. Available now, when you send the first ad request from a qualified app* and distribute your app on Fire phone, you will receive a guaranteed $6 CPM on interstitial ads in August and September (up to a maximum of 1 million impressions per app per month). Interstitial impressions served across all supported devices (Android phones and tablets, Kindle Fire tablets, and Fire phones), supported markets (U.S. and U.K. users), and supported stores (Amazon Appstore and other Android stores) qualify for the offer.

Interstitial Ads are full screen ads that use the entire screen of the device. They typically appear in app transitions such as in between game stages. Interstitial ads from the Amazon Mobile Ad Network are high quality when viewed by any phone including the new Fire phone.

How To Qualify

  1. Integrate interstitial ads using the latest Amazon Mobile Ads API into your new app and send the first ad request between June 18th and September 30th, 2014. 
  2. Test your app for Fire phone compatibility and select the Fire phone check box when submitting your binary.  Apps must be Fire phone compatible to qualify for this promotion. Submit your app earlier to maximize the offer period.

The Amazon Mobile Ad Network has helped many developers monetize their app including Jason Stock from Firecracker Software, who shared: “The biggest contribution Amazon provided us in monetizing our apps was through superior eCPM in their Mobile Ads SDK, which performed 215% more than other Ad Networks, and a 77% fill rate in our Word Breaker app. Because of Amazon Mobile Ads, we were able to quit our day job."

Click here to learn more about the Mobile Ads Interstitial CPM Boost offer.

*Existing apps already sending ad requests do not qualify. Apps that integrate the Amazon Mobile Ads API for the first time are eligible for the offer.

 

June 23, 2014

Jesse Freeman

Fire represents a huge leap forward in mobile UX (user experience). As a developer, you’ll want to design the best customer experience possible for this new platform.  To help you achieve that, we’ve outlined the core design principles that will allow you to take advantage of Fire’s unique Dynamic Perspective features. The good news is that if you are an Android developer your app will work on Fire with little or no work, and as you will see, just a few modifications to your app’s UX will let it better take advantage of what the Fire SDK has to offer.

Design Principles

At the core of the Fire UX is the following principle: connect the real world to the digital world, with immersive experiences and rewarding moments. While it’s easy to dive into the deep end and use everything the Dynamic Perspective SDK and Firefly SDK have to offer, the real question you should be asking yourself is: “how will each Fire feature improve the user’s experience?” 

Here are three best practices for designing with the Dynamic Perspective SDK.

Supporting One-Handed Shortcuts with Dynamic Perspective

One way users will interact with the UI elements in Fire-optimized apps is through one-handed shortcuts. You are probably already familiar with incorporating gestures into your UX designs, but what makes Fire unique is the one-handed shortcuts that are driven by a user’s physical interaction with the device. The unique head tracking capability tracks the position of the user’s head relative to the device and when combined with other sensor inputs enables the entire UI to respond to how the device is held, moved and where the user looks.

To help illustrate this, let’s look at the orientation of the device itself.

Here you can see we have the three axes you’ve come to expect in 3D space: x, y and z. By moving the phone along a particular axis the user is able to trigger a gesture. There are three main gestures the user will come to rely on.

Peek

A Peek is triggered when the user subtly rotates the phone around the Y-axis. By slightly angling the device, the perspective of the Dynamic Perspective UI shifts to reveal contextual content.  

Here you can see on the home screen, the device is being held at the default orientation directly facing the user and the top status bar is hidden.

droid@screen-4

When the user angles the phone to the right, it enables the peek gesture, which will begin to display contextual information such as the top status.

It’s important to keep the following in mind when adding peek experiences to your own app:

  • Show things that help the user in the moment. The best way to think of this is mouse-overs on desktop computers that reveal contextual tooltips.
  • Reveal secondary information that the user may be looking for, but don’t ‘hide’ primary information on peek.
  • Reward close inspection.
  • Peek gestures work best in the primary panel.

Tilt

Rotating the phone around the Y-axis will trigger a Tilt. While Peek is a subtle movement, Tilt is at the far end of the movement’s spectrum. Tilt is designed to pull open the left and right panels.

Tilting the phone to the far right on the home screen you will pull up the Left panel. Left panels are typically used for menus and navigation, such as in the below example from the Fire home screen:

droid@screen-7

For many, this will represent a totally new way of interacting with a digital device and its intention is to invoke a sense of playfulness and delight for the user. In addition to the left panel, there is a right panel, which we’ll talk about more in the next section. You can use a tilt gesture in the opposite direction, moving the right side of the phone towards you, to pull up the right panel. These gestures become intuitive for users since they are facsimiles of how we would interact with physical objects in the real world.

While it’s important to be playful in your design, it’s critical that you don’t make the user work too hard to understand your app’s UX. The key goal is to make the primary UI clean and visually easy to scan by distilling it down to only the essential information.

Working with Fire’s Panels

Fire apps consist of three different panels that help tie the entire experience together for the user. These are the Left Panel, Primary Panel and Right Panel. Let’s take a look at each one and how they work.

Primary Panel

The primary panel is the main application space where most of the action takes place. Here you can see in the Maps app that we are presented with a standard Android View that displays the main UI of the App.

                                                                          droid@screen-11

Left Panel

As we discussed in the previous section, the left panel contains quick navigation, refinement controls, sort controls, and other contextual controls. User actions on this panel change the view in the primary panel.

                                                        droid@screen-13

The left panel should contain your app’s actions that are not key to the primary interaction of the app. Core UX should always be contained within the primary panel.

Right Panel

The right panel helps users discover new things or perform essential tasks more quickly without leaving the current context.

droid@screen-12

The right panel is always contextual whereas the left panel is constant throughout the app. This means that the right panel can also be used for quick summaries, actions tied to what is being displayed on the primary view, or additional shortcut actions that wouldn’t make sense to be exposed in the left panel. The right panel is a good place to positively surprise the user with information that is delightful in the moment, but which they didn’t know to expect. For example, the Amazon MP3 app surfaces song lyrics in the right panel.

By taking advantage of these panels, you’ll also be integrated into the system-wide gesture events. A great place to start is by going through the phone’s default apps such as Email, Maps, Messaging and even the Silk Browser to see how they are setup.

Designing for the Home Carousel

The next important thing to also consider is how your app will look on the home screen carousel. Each app is represented in the carousel with two parts—an icon on top and a widget below the icon.

In the image above, the highlighted red area is your app icon and the area highlighted in green is the widget area.  The widget allows you to expose content without needing the user to launch the app. Text and images can be presented in a grid or list.

droid@screen-10

The widget communicates with your app using an intent. When the user taps an item in the grid or list, the intent you defined for the item is sent. If you do not provide a widget for your app, the system displays a default widget that shows “Customers Also Bought” content related to your app.

Be creative with this space and use it to drive user engagement.  You could use it to help users quickly launch your app.  Or, use the space to expose a summary of past activity the user may be searching for again.

Now Is the Time to Submit Your Apps for Fire

Create immersive apps that respond to the way a customer holds, views and moves the phone. We have updated Appstore Developer Select, Amazon Mobile Ads API, and Amazon Testing Services with more incentives:

  • Amazon Developer Select: Optimize your apps for Fire phone and get enhanced merchandising and 500,000 Amazon Coins incentives for your customers. Get the details here.
  • Amazon Mobile Ads API: Developers earn $6 for every thousand interstitial ads displayed across any supported device in August and September (up to one million impressions per app per month) when they distribute their apps on Fire phones and send the first ad request from a qualified app. Get the details here.
  • Amazon App Testing Service: Most android apps just work on Amazon devices.  Test your app's compatibility in 90 seconds by dragging and dropping your Android APK into our testing tool. Sign up for a free developer account to test your app's look and feel on devices and get the results within 6 hours.  Test your app now.

Now is the time to submit your apps and games! Apps that are submitted by July 18 and approved will be in the Amazon Appstore when Fire ships on July 25.

Fire Developer Resources:

Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)

 

June 18, 2014

David Isbitski

Today in Seattle, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos unveiled Fire, the first phone designed by Amazon. Fire is the first and only smartphone with Dynamic Perspective and Firefly. Dynamic Perspective is an entirely new technology that responds to the way a customer holds, views and moves the phone. For example, Zillow is using the Dynamic Perspective SDK to create the ability to zoom in on pictures within their app by just moving the phone closer to the user. The revolutionary Firefly technology already recognizes movies, music and more and with the Firefly SDK developers can extend the use of the Firefly button to enable new actions their users can take based on what they can identify. As a developer, these new technologies enable you to create more immersive experiences in your apps and games that increase user engagement.

The Fire SDKs are available now, and make it easy for developers to take advantage of these features in their apps. These SDKs were designed to offer developers power and flexibility with pre-built controls, low level APIs, and complete UI frameworks. You can download both SDKs here.

How Developers Are Using Dynamic Perspective

Fire apps are built with the same familiar Android development environment you are used to. Fire provides a powerful set of hardware to bring your apps alive. With 2 gigabytes of RAM, a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad-core 2.2 GHz CPU and an Adreno 330 GPU, Fire will support the high performance game experiences customers crave. For detailed technical specifications of Fire, click here.

Zillow used the Dynamic Perspective SDK to integrate real-time information into their app’s user experience. In the Zillow app for Fire, customers can view new listings or nearby homes for sale and rent, right on the Fire carousel without having to open the Zillow app. In addition, Zillow brought a new photo experience to the device so users can use their head to zoom in on a bedroom or peek to see what's around the kitchen corner. “Real estate shopping is an inherently mobile experience so any chance we have to bring listings or new information to a home shopper while they're out on the go is a great thing,” said Jeremy Waxman, Vice President of Marketing and Mobile, Zillow. “Photos are incredibly impactful for home shoppers—it is the most common activity for users of our app. We are thrilled to be able to go one step beyond static images and offer our users the opportunity to zoom in on the photos and then peek around the room with the Dynamic Perspective SDK.”

Ezone.com, the creators of Snowspin and Crazy Snowboard, used the Dynamic Perspective SDK to allow a customer to navigate the endless runner game with just their head—no tapping on the screen necessary. Using head and hand movements, users can control direction and speed. Users can interact with games in a more immersive way – without their hands getting in the way of game play. Additionally, Ezone.com created a special flip jump in Snowspin currently exclusive to Fire customers with just a flick up of the head. “Porting our existing Android versions of Snow Spin and Crazy Snowboard to Fire couldn’t have been easier, and we were able to add new innovative game moves such as a double backflip with just the flick of your head, enabling even higher scores,” said Simon Edis, CEO of Ezone.com. “The Amazon team had all the tools ready to go, making it super easy for us to just drop them in our games and publish.”

CrowdStar used the Dynamic Perspective SDK to create the ability for Covet Fashion users to select their favorite fashion choices for their model. Using zoom and tilt, players can see details of outfits to vote on looks. “Dynamic Perspective is so innovative we’ve just begun to figure out how to take advantage of all the technology has to offer. The simplicity of the user interface and design around a one handed experience will really allow us full creativity as we look ahead in our portfolio of apps and games,” said Jefferey Tseng, CEO of Crowdstar. “Dynamic Perspective has unlocked capabilities we’ve always wanted to create in our game—incorporating zoom and pan in an incredibly natural way without having to touch the screen, is the first example.”

Firefly – Experiencing the World around You

Firefly understands your surroundings, instantly helping you to learn more, discover new things, and take action on the world around you. It can scan physical objects, identify them, and obtain related information about them. Everything from book covers, album covers, bar codes, QR codes, movies, television shows, songs and more. Developers can use the Firefly API to supplement item identification or build actionable options for customers after an item is recognized. For example, iHeartRadio used the Firefly SDK’s built-in music recognizer and music database to identify a song playing. Then they built their own Firefly action to create a station based on the song Firefly recognized.

Go beyond Touch with Shortcut Gestures

Because phones are often used with only one hand, Fire also offers one-handed shortcuts that go above and beyond touch. These shortcut gestures allow you to simply angle the device and “peek” into additional information that your apps can display on screen. For example, customer ratings in the Amazon Appstore instantly appear over each app’s icon when the device is tilted. Navigation is enhanced with gestures: moving back is as simple as flicking up on the screen with a finger, while tilting the device in either direction brings up two additional panels for navigation and contextual information. Gestures can even be integrated inside your games so that users can experience the game in a more intuitive way. Imagine moving a character on screen simply by titling the device instead of having to cover what’s on the screen with your finger.

Creating Multi-Dimensional Experiences inside Your Apps with the new SDKs

Fire enables new ways of interacting with your phone by simply rotating the device around X, Y and Z axes. These gestures were designed to be used with only a single hand, a common scenario when using a phone. We’ve created a framework that integrates directly with these gestures and Fire’s new sensors, making it a simple process to integrate within your own apps.

Fire SDKs and APIs

The underlying technology for Dynamic Perspective and Firefly is sophisticated, but Amazon makes it simple for developers to harness their capabilities. See a full breakdown of the SDKs and their contents here.

Dynamic Perspective SDK

The Dynamic Perspective SDK includes a series of APIs and Controls to help developers create peek, tilt and zoom capabilities within their app based on customer head movements, create multi-dimensional game play, or provide quick navigation menus by tilting the device to the left or right. These experiences are created through a variety of visual effects including adding shadows, depth and tracking head and motion gestures. For example, you could create an app that allows you to peek at how many pages are left in the book you are reading, or browse your apps as if you were flipping through a physical file drawer. Flat cartoonish icons and graphics could be replaced with realistic visuals that use lighting, shadows and motion to create an experience you would want to show off at every opportunity.

Firefly SDK

With the Firefly SDK, developers can build apps that recognize real world objects—music, movies and more—and let customers interact with them. As a developer you can create more immersive experiences that increase both engagement and the frequency of app use. The Firefly SDK comes with built-in recognizers and databases for products, music, movies, URLs, and websites, as well as built-in actions such as dialing a phone number, looking up an object on Amazon or going to a website. Developers can use the Firefly SDK to take advantage of the built-in recognizers, databases and actions.

Fire is Android Compatible

Fire is based on Fire OS so if an app runs on Android it can run on Fire with little to no work. For a developer who just wants to get started with Fire they can do a simple port, or they can use the Fire SDKs to easily integrate UI features such as shadows or hovering images within the app or game, or creating left and right panels based on Fire’s three-panel UI design.

Fire uses the same familiar Android development environment, and while Android Studio is fully supported IDE, you can also use Eclipse and other IDEs. Android Studio Gradle support is also supported for builds. An API simulator for the Side Panels and Carousel is included to test code on stock Android emulators and devices without needing a physical Fire device.

We know that many Android apps and games are built with various technologies so the Fire SDK includes support for those as well. Unity, HTML5 and C++ are all supported. For additional details on using third-party frameworks click here.

Now Is the Time to Submit Your Apps for Fire

By optimizing your apps for Fire, you have the opportunity to create compelling experiences that combine realistic visuals, with both depth and perspective allowing customers to use their smartphone in ways never done before. Starting today we are updating Appstore Developer Select offerings, Amazon Mobile Ads API, and Amazon Testing Service with special Fire incentives.

Amazon Developer Select: Amazon will offer 500,000 Amazon Coins ($5,000 value) for each of your qualifying paid apps or apps with in-app purchasing that meet the additional program requirements for Fire Phone. You can create campaigns via the Promotions Console to give these Coins away to consumers purchasing any of your paid apps or in-app items. For more details on the Amazon Developer Select program for Fire click here.

Amazon Mobile Ads API: Developers earn $6 for every thousand interstitial ads displayed across any supported device in August and September (up to one million impressions per app per month) when they distribute their apps on Fire phones and send the first ad request from a qualified app. For more details on the Amazon Mobile Ad Network Interstitial CPM Offer promotion click here.

Amazon App Testing Service: We have also expanded our testing tool to Fire. Developers can now test their Fire apps before submitting them to the Amazon Appstore. Developers simply drag and drop an app and most will receive feedback about their app’s compatibility within 90 seconds. Additionally, registered developers have access to additional Fire test results that check the app’s experience. These tests enable developers to see how an app looks and performs on an actual device sitting in an Amazon device lab.

With the launch of Fire, Amazon now offers a complete device and apps ecosystem spanning across tablet, phone and TV. Customers pay for your apps once and interact with the experiences you create across all their screens. As a developer, you only need to submit your app once and with few changes make it available to your customers across all Amazon devices. Now is the time to submit your apps and games!

Additional Fire Developer resources:

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

 

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