Amazon's high-end phone will supposedly have four cameras on the front to create a 3D interface.
What was interesting about the Kindle Fire HDX announcement weeks ago was that Amazon introduced the Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito" platform separately, a first for the company thus far. The big surprise was the software's support for enterprise including a native VPN client, a native SCEP (Simple Certificate Exchange Protocol) client, and device management APIs. Thus the tablet can be used in a BYOD environment, as could a Fire OS-based smartphone.
Just recently, Amazon was discovered to have trademarked "Firetube," and a follow-up report by the Wall Street Journal claimed that the rumored set-top-box will likely ship before the end of the year, with Fire OS 3.0 possibly intact. This would make sense if Amazon is looking for the same multi-device experience Microsoft is shooting for with Windows 8.
Now TechCrunch is firing up the smartphone rumors with additional insider info. Previously, we heard that Amazon was working on multiple phones, one of which supposedly is a high-end device with a glasses-free 3D screen. The rumored 3D phone was said to feature retina-tracking software that will make images seem to float above the smartphone screen like a three-dimensional hologram, complete at every viewing angle. Users will reportedly be able to navigate through content by merely using their eyes -- so the sources claim.
Both phones were reportedly part of Project B, one of many "Alphabet" projects under development inside Amazon's Lab126 facility in California. Sources recently claimed that the high-end phone eventually moved to a "Duke" codename, and is now using "Smith." The screen itself will not be 3D, but the device will have a camera mounted on each corner of it, totaling four (or five if you count the one on the back for taking pictures), to track eye and head motions. The interface will be generated based on the user's point of view, emulating 3D.
Users will supposedly be able to move their head and see on-screen buttons for a media player, and "peek" off the edges of the screen to see items not visible from the front. These two features are reportedly still experimental, and could be toned down in the final version if Amazon decides they'll be useful.
Sources also claim that Amazon has been testing software so that the device recognizes the user's face. This in turn prevents the phone from generating a 3D perspective for other people nearby such as customers standing behind the user in a store, and so on. Amazon has also been testing a Goggles-like app that allows users to take pictures of objects and match them on Amazon.
The report states that this high-end phone will not make an appearance this year, and so far it's unknown what OS will be used. That leads us to the inexpensive model that supposedly will ship with Fire OS, possibly this year along with the Firetube set-top-box. Amazon denied earlier reports of a 2013 release supposedly because the target date has been shifting around and could end up pushed into 2014. The company also denied that any Amazon phone would be offered for free, yet there's a good chance Amazon will lower the cost using the same ad-based model seen on the Kindle Fire tablets.
Each phone is reportedly shipped around internally inside a locked steel case, with only the screen appearing, to prevent leaks. The devices are not allowed to leave the building, thus engineers can't even work on the phones from home. The development teams are split between Seattle and Sunnyvale, and engineers from other projects have reportedly been pulled to the phones, reducing the staff on other hardware projects.