Amazon had a huge announcement this morning, with various new Kindle Fire models being introduced to the masses. We’ve seen a refresh of the Kindle Fire HD 7-inch, as well as a new class of product in the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch and 8.9-inch. We spoke at length about those two already, so be sure to check that post out if you haven’t already.
What we didn’t talk much about was Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito,” the latest experience Amazon’s put together sitting on top of Android. Coming (pre-installed) only to the new Kindle Fire tablets, Fire OS 3.0 brings a lot of great enhancements and features that those who already like Amazon’s custom experience will enjoy.
It features the following:
- Android apps and games compatibility with the Amazon Appstore
- Support for HTML5 apps
- GameCircle and WhisperSync integration
- In-app purchasing
- Amazon Device Messaging for advanced notifications
- Amazon Coins
- Carousel and grid-based user interface options
- Cloud Collections for easier organization of apps, books, music and more
- Kindle FreeTime parental controls
- OS-level social integration with Facebook and Twitter
Amazon Mayday button
That’s the stuff we already enjoy, but Amazon has made it all just a bit better. Another big change for Fire OS 3.0 is the Mayday button, a tool that will allow you to quickly connect with an Amazon tech support specialist in the event that you need help with your Kindle Fire device. Mayday will allow the specialist to remotely control your device and help you get through any problem you might be having.
Amazon promises Mayday will be up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year, and their goal is to be able to get to you in 15 seconds or less. That’s a pretty significant commitment, but support is important and it can be the difference between making a sale and having a customer go with the competition.
Amazon is so excited about this feature that they’ve created three made-for-TV commercials showing how helpful Mayday can be in situations where you might need it. It features a character named “Amy,” otherwise affectionately known as the Amazon lady. You can head to this link and click the playback button in the bottom right corner to check them out for yourself.
Amazon wants you to be able to do more than just consume content — they want you to be knowledgeable about it, too. Here are some of the things at work giving you a deeper look at what you’re reading, watching or listening to:
- Goodreads allows you to see what your friends are reading and get recommendations, share quotes, and write reviews.
- X-Ray for movies and TV now shows info about themes that are playing, feeds you trivia, and highlights some of the bloopers, in addition to existent information about the actors and characters in the show as they appear on-screen.
- X-Ray is coming to music, with lyrics automatically showing up line-by-line while you’re playing a song. Lyrics can even be accessed while you’re offline.
- Second Screen lets you “fling” your playing content from your Kindle Fire to your TV, and frees the Kindle up for other tasks. More than just a mirror of the display, you can play games and read books while watching a TV show or playing a movie on your TV.
- Quiet Time will mute the device during certain times or activities, such as reading.
- Quick Switch gestures allow you to switch not only between different apps, but also between different pieces of content within the same app (such as books inside the reading app).
That’s a whole lot of unique and useful features for folks who want a worry-free and informative experience.
Platform Enhancements & Enterprise
Amazon has also made a lot of low-level platform enhancements, many of which will directly impact the experience for users. The download manager has been given a facelift, with the ability to run parallel content downloads when you want to load up several pieces of content at once. You might also enjoy the manager’s ability to automatically pause a download while you’re loading up rich multimedia content such as video and music.
A new Graphics Direct Texture graphics pipeline will allow the Fire OS 3.0 to load high-quality artwork for video, books, and music while still maintaining a smooth graphical use interface and quick load times.
Amazon has improved touch responsiveness by dynamically increasing the CPU speed whenever you lift your finger from the display, resulting in lower latency for better gaming performance (and better touch performance overall). It’ll also offload app startup animation to the GPU, so apps startup smoothly and quickly.
Finally, “reading mode” is what helps Amazon deliver 5-6 more hours of battery life while the user is reading. The OS powers down unnecessary system components and optimizes display brightness to squeeze every ounce of life out of the Kindle Fire HD’s battery.
Beyond all that, we’ve got enhanced email setup, threaded conversations and sync, wireless printing support for certain types of documents, software-driven data encryption, and more features that enterprise users will enjoy.
Unfortunately, Amazon is not opting to bring these new goods to existing Kindle Fire models — this is only for the 2013 line of HD and HDX products that were just announced this morning. It will come pre-installed on those devices, but Amazon says not all of Fire OS 3.0′s features will be available at launch. The rest will be on the way in a free 3.1 update that will come out at some point after launch.
Be sure to read up on all the new Kindle Fire HDs here, and decide whether or not you want any of these nicely-priced tablets in your life once they’re slated to launch starting next month.