Inside Amazon’s smartphone: Unique 3D UI revealed

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Our colleagues at BGR Classic earlier exclusively revealed the first photos of Amazon’s upcoming smartphone with six cameras. Today they have the exclusive details of how the 3D UI on the smartphone will work. It turns out that the hardware enabled 3D effects are just the tip of the iceberg and it will be baked deeply into how users will interact with the phone.

According to the leak, the smartphone will utilize a combination of cameras, sensors and software to change the way users interact with their phone. On the front, the phone will have four low-power infrared cameras that will track the position of the user’s head in relation to the phone.

In the earlier report, it was claimed that Amazon was deeply integrating this capability into the OS as well as the services. For example, when using the maps, by tilting the phone users will be able to change the viewpoint on the map, or when shopping for products users will be able to see them from different angles. Amazon is also roping in a few third party app developers for them to take advantage of these effects and keep their apps ready for the time of launch.

However, the 3D effects run much deeper. It will also offer users a different way to navigate menu options. In the first handset, Amazon will introduce some new gestures that will work by tilting the phone in different directions, which will give additional information without the user having to touch the display.

In the phone’s email and calendar apps where small icons are displayed with no labels, a slight tilt will reveal labels beneath each icon, informing the user of its function. If the user performs a tilt gesture after searching for a restaurant in the maps app, Yelp ratings will appear on top of the various results plotted on the map.

In Amazon’s video store, a tilt gesture displays IMDb ratings on top of movie thumbnails. And when viewing products on Amazon.com, gestures might cycle through images to reveal different product views.

Instead of having menu buttons, tilting the phone to the left or right will bring up menu panels or features in an app that will come over the current screen.

If the user tilts the phone to one side while reading a book in the Kindle app, the phone will open the X-Ray menu, which is a reference tool that provides contextual information relevant to whatever the user might be reading at the time.

A tilt in the messaging app while composing a new message will open up a panel with the phone’s camera roll, allowing users to quickly and easily insert a photo. Tilting the phone to one side while using the weather app reveals the extended forecast.

Amazon will also add software features to the rear camera so users will be able to click photos of signs or real-life objects with text that will be converted into notes using Optical Character Recognition, which could also come handy to scan business cards or translate from another language. However, apps already exist that do the same task.

Amazon is expected to unveil the smartphone sometime in June. However, this tilt UI sounds pretty complicated. Its success will also depend on whether all third-party apps will be able to work with the unique UI by default or it will require developers to tweak their apps to support the new features.