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Friday fun for the IT crowd

June 19, 2014

Amazon lights a fire under smartphones and mobile developers

The Amazon Fire Phone took consumer tech by storm this week when the company released details about the long-rumored device. It’s finally here and includes some features that wow, including Dolby stereo speakers, new applications and visual recognition technology.

The phone’s Firefly app (which Information Week described as a “barcode scanner on steroids”) sounds like one that could become indispensable to shoppers. The app, which is easily accessible through a button on the side of the phone, lets you scan items (not just their barcodes) and quickly check if they’re on sale elsewhere, including—of course—links to the products on Amazon’s own site. Sorry, retail stores! The reportedly super-fast Firefly can also recognize songs and TV shows.

The Dynamic Perspective app uses multiple user-facing cameras to track human facial expressions, allowing new ways for users to control content—and likely new ways for developers to think about future applications.

Releasing the Fire Phone supports two major Amazon strategies: siphoning sales from brick-and-mortar stores, and beating Netflix and cable providers at the media content game. The phone is primed (pun absolutely intended) to deliver streaming content from the company’s new music and video library, available to Amazon Prime subscribers for $100 a year.

Applications developers take note: The new technology and applications have opened up possibilities for mobile developers. They can use the phone’s cool new features to build in additional functions to existing apps, or get started on groundbreaking applications that build on this smartphone's enhanced functionality. Amazon is offering a software development kit for developers to start working with the technology. 

A progressive China?

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba made waves this week when it announced that one-third (or nine) of its 27 partners are women, including the CFO, logistics COO and chief customer officer. The company, which is on track to host the biggest IPO this year, put the notoriously gender-segregated Silicon Valley to shame with this number. Perhaps gender diversity is key to the tech giant's success?  

Show IT the money released its semi-annual survey of IT hiring  managers and IT recruiters. A majority (61%) of respondents reported that candidates are asking for more money than they were six months ago, signaling strength in the labor market.

The "Uncubator"

I can’t read it at work (darned Blue Coat proxy!) but I’m sure this site is hilarious. Enjoy, unless your IT administrator tells you that you can’t. And then you’ll just have to read about it like I did. 

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