Amazon’s Fire Phone, announced in June, was a flop to say the least. Offering hardly anything that wasn’t already on the market, the device launched at a price of $199 on contract (and AT&T-only, to boot), but very soon became basically free (and $199 unlocked) after sales figures turned out to be absolutely depressing. But even with the device’s failures, Amazon is today pushing a relatively substantial software update to its flopped attempt at entering the smartphone market…
It’s a huge change log, bringing tons of features that probably should have shipped with the device. You can now add custom ringtones to the device, block phone numbers, select additional keyboard languages and (wait for it)… connect to a VPN. As for stuff that we might not expect any smartphone in 2014 to ship with by default, there’s also a few new handy SMS/MMS settings, the ability to translate text and identify famous artwork with Firefly, more customization for the lock screen, a new “Best Shot” camera feature, and auto-scroll for your Kindle books.
To round off this update, there’s also the standard bug fixes and improvements for both battery life and the user interface. If you’re one of the few Fire Phone users out there, this update is going to be very welcome. But if you haven’t decided to pick one of these things up yet, I doubt that this software update is going to change your mind.
Here’s a look at the change log in full:
Fire OS 3.6.5 (125013320)
The software version includes new and enhanced features:
- Translate text and identify famous artwork with Firefly Text translation from/to: English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, and artwork recognition for 2,000 famous paintings with info available from Wikipedia. To learn how to use Firefly, go to Identify Movies, Music, Products & More with Firefly.
- Take the perfect picture with Best Shot See three versions of a given photo to choose the perfect shot. To learn how to use Best Shot, go to Take Photos & Personal Videos.
- Enable or disable SMS / MMS settings You can now turn character counts and MMS on or off. To learn about SMS/MMS, go to Messaging.
- Select additional keyboard languages Choose from seven preloaded keyboard languages and 49 additional keyboard languages to download. To learn how to download a keyboard, go to Customize Your Language & Keyboard.
- Block unwanted phone numbers Decline unwanted calls from any given contact. To learn how to block phone calls, go to Review Your Call History.
- Add custom ringtones to your phone Add custom ringtones from the Amazon Appstore to your Fire phone. To learn more, go to Manage Ringtones & Notifications.
- View more information from the lock screen Control music directly from the lock screen, and configure your phone to wake up when a new notification arrives. To learn about the lock screen, go to Customize the Lock Screen.
- Write and edit documents with WPS Office Edit documents using the new, preloaded WPS Office app. To learn more, go to Docs.
- Connect to a virtual private network (VPN) at work Connect to a secure, corporate VPN from your Fire using the native IPSec / L2TP VPN client to stay productive while on the go. To learn how to use the VPN feature, go to Set Up a VPN.
- Sync calendars across Amazon devices registered to your Amazon account Create appointments that are automatically synced across supported Fire phones and Fire tablets registered to your Amazon account with Amazon Cloud Calendar. To learn how to use Amazon Cloud Calendar, go to Calendar.
- Read your Kindle books in one continuous scroll Read and scroll through Kindle books without ever having to touch the screen. To learn how to use Auto-Scroll, go to One-Handed Shortcuts.
- Improved battery life Dozens of systems updates for enhanced battery performance.
- Bug fixes and user interface improvements Hundreds of other bug fixes and user interface improvements.