Amazon is bringing one of the biggest features of its Fire smartphone to its line of tablets.
Starting today, anyone who owns one of the several generations of Amazon’s Fire HD tablets with get an over-the-air software update for Firefly, a camera mode that can automatically identify real-world objects.
Firefly can scan objects like books, movies, posters, QR codes, and household goods to give you more information about them. It can recognise over 245,000 movies and TV episodes, 160 live TV channels, and 35 million songs, and will link users to IMDb info and where to download.
When I tested the Fire phone last year, I didn’t find myself naturally using Firefly very often, but did think there was something thrilling about watching the phone figure out what I was looking at or listening to. I found it most useful for identifying music, easily dialling a phone number that I had on a business card without having to type it in, and checking whether a physical book was also available for Kindle. Power users might love it for scanning products to see if they’re cheaper on Amazon than in-store (overall, Firefly is great for directing users to buy things on Amazon.
Although Firefly was one of two main features of the Fire phone (the other was Dynamic Perspective, which gives the phone 3D effects), it wasn’t enough to get the device off shelves. The company announced in its Q3 earnings that it had $US83 million in unsold inventory and took a $US170 million charge overall.
The Firefly software update will be for Fire HD customers in the US, UK, and Germany. Firefly is already available on Amazon’s latest Fire HDX 8.9 tablets.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.