To the average consumer, the Kindle Fire won’t be about specs. Of course, they certainly help when running apps or movies or books. Rather, much of the experience will be spent browsing through the software, getting around to different areas on the device. Amazon has gone to great lengths redesigning and re-skinning Google’s Android OS to make for a more intuitive and user friendly experience. Amazon’s goal is, after all, to encourage consumers to consume media through their enormous ecosystem. Does their redesign succeed?
As a device that will attract people unfamiliar with tablets, the UI is easy and simple, though it’s not perfect. In the absence of widgets or spaces, Amazon’s “forked” Android offers a virtual bookshelf that acts as the home screen. The top menu bar – time, battery, Wi-Fi – displays a convenient, although sometimes hard to press, cog icon that reveals settings like Volume, Brightness and Wi-Fi, and just beneath that there is a search bar that will let users search through their media library or the web. Curiously, the Fire doesn’t have a volume rocker anywhere, so users will be accessing the settings menu quite a bit through the icon at the top.
Also at the top is a media bar where users can navigate between Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, etc., along with a Web option that makes accessing Amazon’s Silk web browser simple.
Below that, and displayed most prominently, are the most recently used apps where users can swipe through similar to Apple’s Cover Flow. Also on the home screen is a shelf for your favorite apps where users can add their favorite media (books, apps, videos) and rearrange them ala the iPad’s drag and drop.
Check out the video to get a more in depth sense of what using the Kindle Fire will be like, and stay tuned for further coverage. There is a lot to admire, and as Amazon’s first effort, they did a great job simplifying Android. There are a few quirks here and there, but nothing that broke the overall experience.
How are you liking Amazon’s “forked” Android experience?