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Showing posts tagged with Kindle Fire HDX

September 24, 2013

Mike Hines

Amazon just announced our new Kindle Fire tablets and Fire OS 3.0! Here are the device specs:

With this launch we are offering some impressive hardware at very attractive prices. But for customers, it’s not all about the hardware; the experience matters. With these devices, we’ve made hundreds of enhancements to the platform to make tablet technology easy to use and accessible to a much broader range of customers.

So what does this mean to developers?

Graphics Direct Texture

The Fire OS graphics system is customized to quickly load large graphical assets like the high-resolution cover art in the Fire OS home screen. Graphics Direct Texture enables the Carousel and the Fire OS media libraries to include detailed images and still load quickly and scroll smoothly.

Things to consider about graphics:

  • If you use a development framework like Unity, Epic or other, please make sure that you select PowerPVR and Andreno options when building your apps!
  • You should check to see if your visual assets look good at the 2560x1600 resolution of the 8.9” device. If not, you should supply 2560x1600 assets instead of letterboxing your existing content.

New Device IDs

We recommend that you use capability detection to determine which features to support and which layouts to use.

If you have been using specific device detection to detect device-specific features or capabilities such as screen resolution or otherwise alter the behavior of your app you should be aware that each of the three new devices has a new model number, and you will need to update your Device ID list or switch to capability detection. You can find specifics on the Kindle Fire Device and Feature Specifications.

Things to consider about Device IDs:

  • android.os.Build.MODEL is changing for the new devices
  • android.os.Build.MANUFACTURER continues to be “Amazon”
  • You should try to use capability detection instead of strict device detection whenever possible

New Camera Options

The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9” now comes with forward and rear facing cameras and will respond to Android Intents accordingly. The 8MP camera on the back of the device has a flash accessible from your app via the Camera object. You can also use MediaStore.ACTION_IMAGE_CAPTURE or MediaStore.ACTION_VIDEO_CAPTURE to capture images or videos without directly using the Camera object.

Sensor Options

All new devices support TYPE_ACCELEROMETER and TYPE_GYROSCOPE. The HDX devices with the 4G WAN option will also support TYPE_MAGNETIC_FIELD and TYPE_ORIENTATION for compass functions and have GPS onboard to support accurate ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION. The two HDX devices will also include an Ambient Light Sensor.

Things to consider about camera and sensor options:

  • Have your code look for the features on the most advanced device and degrade gracefully if a camera or sensor is not present
  • Check this page for suggestions on sensor detection

Speaker Options

All three Fire Tablet support Dolby Digital+ processing, and no action is required for your app to benefit from this feature. Coupled with Kindle Fire’s new display features the addition of Dolby Digital makes Kindle Fire a very compelling platform for gaming and media apps.

Development and Debugging

Brand-new 2013 Kindle Fire emulators enable you to target the latest Kindle Fire devices even if you don’t have one on hand. The Amazon AVD Launcher streamlines creation of compatible Android Virtual Devices so you can get your apps running in the emulator faster than ever.

Fire OS 3.0

All of the new devices run Fire OS 3.0 and feature Amazon’s unique user-friendly interface, which we have optimized extensively to improve performance. Fire OS is based on Android 4.2.2 (API level 17), so Android compatibility is high, often requiring no additional development work. In fact, 75% of the Android tablet apps that we’ve tested run on Fire OS with no code changes.

Fire OS also includes a newly optimized, high-performance Chromium-based HTML stack, so your web apps deliver a native user experience using open web technologies such as HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3.

Other APIs now available include Bluetooth gamepads and joysticks as Human Interface Devices (HID), and multiple user support. Allowing multiple users makes family use easier, especially in conjunction with child-friendly Free Time.

In addition, this release opens Fire OS to a whole new class of Enterprise applications. With user partition encryption and secure connections to enterprise Wi-Fi networks, your application can better protect user data on-device and during transfer. Kerberos authentication and a native IPSec VPN client allow you to connect securely to corporate intranet websites from your app.

Customers Love Kindle Fire

New customer-facing features and UI improvements enhance the user experience overall and better position your content with consumers. A redesigned Home Screen with Carousel and Grid views, for example, allows users to customize the display, while QuickSwitch gives them the ability to move between apps with a single swipe.

With Second Screen, users can fling content from their tablet to their TV, and new download prioritization ensures data transfers in the background don’t compromise device performance, degrade playback, or interfere with the foreground application. X-Ray for Music, Movies, and TV lets customers explore their media in new ways, while Reading Mode makes books on the Kindle Fire even more enjoyable.

One of the most innovative features in this release focuses on helping customers have a great experience every time, even when things are working quite right. Fire OS 3.0 delivers revolutionary live tech support via video, available 24x7, 365 days a year. The Mayday button is built into Quick Settings and connects customers to an Amazon Tech Advisor, who can guide a customer remotely through any feature. As the resident tech support guy for my extended family I can say I’m pretty excited about this feature.

Better integration with third-party applications means customers can spend more time with the Kindle Fire. This release adds support for Facebook contacts, events, and photos, for example, and enables printing of documents created with Microsoft Office. Conversation view in Email improves usability, and Screen Reader, Explore by Touch, and Screen Magnifier raise overall accessibility.

You benefit from these features without having to do anything in your own code. In addition, customers who purchase a new Kindle Fire will receive 500 Amazon Coins that they can spend (and you can receive) just like cash in the Amazon Appstore. Learn more about these and other consumer enhancements here.

Other New Features

The following improvements are not device or OS related, but are relevant nonetheless.

In the last several months, Amazon has added new APIs that:

  • Give you a way to do live A/B testing in your app and change app variables while they are in-market
  • Monetize your apps with display ads
  • Help you make money by selling physical and digital goods from Amazon within your app
  • Track scores, achievements and sync game state across Android and iOS platforms

Things to Consider:

As you develop your first app for the new generation of Kindle Fire Tablets, here are some things to consider.

  • The new devices have new MODEL numbers. (Please use capability detection)
  • Make sure your resources are appropriate for 2560x1600
  • Remember to select the Adreno GPU when using a framework
  • Sensors and features vary between devices. Assume the best and degrade gracefully
  • You can get more details about the device specs here

We are looking forward to sharing more details about Fire OS 3.0 in a blog post soon. We will also share additional details and implementation suggestions for the new features in future blog posts, but in the meantime, you can find excellent documentation on the new device on our developer portal: https://developer.amazon.com/sdk/fireos.html

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