Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Amazon's Firefly recognizes everything you see and hear, then lets you buy it


So yes, Amazon's phone is a real thing... and it's turning out to be quite a sales tool, too. Jeff Bezos just pulled back the curtain on the device's Firefly feature, which scans music, art and even products you have laying around in the real world. Why? So you buy can it all from Amazon, of course.

Here's how it works: you'll be able to use the phone's Firefly app (which you can invoke with a dedicated button) to snap images of DVDs, books, QR codes, CDs, bar codes, and more. From there, the app chews on that data to recognizes it and finds them in its massive database. Music and video are no match for Firefly either, as the app can listen in on content of both types -- you'll get a more detailed view, along with the ability to buy that stuff directly from Amazon (or, you know, play it through iHeartRadio).

The initial impression Firefly gave off made it seem like an app tailor-made to drive more sales on Amazon, but there's a little more to it than that. With the ability to recognize street addresses and phone numbers, Amazon wants to make Firefly a part of your everyday life -- Bezos probably doesn't want you to scribble down another address ever again. And here's the really big bit: Amazon is making a Firefly SDK available to developers, so they can bake those audio, visual, and text recognition smarts into their own apps. Want to add your lunch to MyFitnessPal? Snap a photo of it, and let Firefly do all the heavy lifting in the backend; that corresponding nutritional data should be where it should before long.

Amazon's Fire Phone. Will you get one?