Remember Amazon’s Fire Phone?

Andrew Cunningham, writing for Ars Technica on a major software update for Amazon’s universally-disparaged Fire Phone:

Still, for those who have taken the plunge, Amazon continues providing software updates. Fire OS 4.6.1 includes a fair number of changes, but the largest is one Amazon doesn’t mention — it updates the underlying version of Android from 4.2 Jelly Bean to 4.4 KitKat. KitKat is still a year-and-a-half old at this point, but that’s a year newer than Jelly Bean, and it’s still the most-used version of Android according to Google’s developer dashboard.

KitKat is responsible for a bunch of the new things Fire OS picks up, including Bluetooth 4.0 support, improved accessibility, printing support, security and accessibility features, and an emoji keyboard (Amazon uses unchanged versions of Google’s emoji, the same you’d see on a Google-blessed Android phone).

Given how ubiquitous emoji have become, it’s hard to believe that Fire Phone didn’t have any support for them at all until now. And even still they’re only now catching up to a year-and-a-half old version of Android. It just goes to show how hard it is to go with a “we’ll fork our own version of Android” strategy.

I wonder too, if this update is a sign that Amazon has not given up on Fire Phone. It used to be said of Microsoft that they shipped horrible 1.0’s but stuck with it, for years if that’s what it took, until they had a winner. You can still see that today with the Surface line. Amazon might be like that, too.

Thursday, 7 May 2015