The “Fire” smartphone launched by Amazon was a failure. Shortcomings — specially in the software section — led to a complete disappearance of the device from the scene once the initial fanfare surrounding its release had quieted down.
Well, one year after its launch, Amazon apparently is trying to revive the device as it announced the Android KitKat update for the fire phones. The Over-the-air update changes the version number for the Fire OS to 4.6.1, and brings along a whole sackful of benefits such as improved calling and messaging, Accessibility improvements, Bug fixes and interface enhancements.
What’s pretty ironic though is how the “Update” improves the software of the device from the copper age Jelly Bean to the Iron age KitKat and leaves us wondering when, if ever the device will be introduced to the latest Android Lollipop.
Lets take a look at what major improvements this update brings to the device:
- Improved keyboard, including emojis and the option to download more via the Amazon app store.
- Brand new Screen Reader features.
- Enhanced calling options.
- Support for Bluetooth Low Energy technology. To learn more, go to Connect to Bluetooth.
- HDR mode enabled photography.
- Decide which applications can put up notifications on the lock screen.
- Print via the Fire phone by connecting it to compatible HP, Epson, or Canon printers by going to Print From Your Fire Phone in settings.
- Messaging improvements – ease of sending, receiving, reading and deleting messages.
- You can finally change the wallpaper on your home screen — although it beats us why this basic feature wasn’t available earlier.
These changes combined with the fact that the device is still as cheap as ever — sold for $189 at Amazon along with $99 worth of goodies free — may offer a breath of life to the device, but unless Amazon does something drastic — considering that all this update really did was bring the device up to the level of other androids — the relief provided would be temporary at best.