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New Kindle Fire Astronomy apps?

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#1 Don Trinko

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 11:09 AM

Amazon just introduced a new Kindle Fire Tablet. It will sell for $199 and be available November 15th. It uses the Android system, the cloud (free), and has 8gig of internal memory.
Curious if anyone knows of Astronomy apps that may work with this? Thanks; Don T.

#2 psonice

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 11:16 AM

Any android apps that are available on the amazon app store? Could be interesting if sky safari ends up on there (they're porting to android I think, but I know a lot of devs don't like the way amazon run their store).

As to the device, I think wait and see. The price is great, and it has a decent screen, but does it have compass/gps/accelerometers etc? GPS I could live without but the other two are very useful.

It also has amazon's new 'proxy' to speed up web page loading. Fine, except that such a service can also be used to track your behaviour on the web and sell you stuff - which is what the tablet is really for (amazon probably sell it at a loss, or break-even). I wouldn't buy a device with something like that, but it's too early to know the details. Maybe they'll promise not to use it for that, and maybe they'll make it optional.

#3 Don Trinko

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 11:21 AM

I have "Planatarium" on my Palm but PDA's appear to be near extinction . It does everything I need and is a convenient size. Also no monthly 3G fees! Don T.

#4 Shadowalker

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 11:28 AM

Without having had my hands on one, I can't say for certainty, but I would expect anything that runs under Google's "Honeycomb" (Android 3.0 and later) would run on this device.

I'm fond of Google's Sky map - Runs great on my Asus Android tablet. And it's free. There are a number of Android apps for astronomy.

As far as GPS, Compass and Accell.... Don't know, and Amazon didn't say.

#5 rboe

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 01:30 PM

The new Kindle will NOT have 3G, wi-fi only. Amazon says "apps", any Android app? :shrug:

I'm mightly tempted.

#6 Shadowalker

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 02:03 PM

Ron, I'm reasonably sure any android app will run. But, to be sure, see if the kindle fire has android "Market."

Had this been there three months ago i'm pretty sure I'd be posting with it instead of the asus I'm using now.

#7 Ken Kobayashi

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 03:16 PM

The new Kindle will NOT have 3G, wi-fi only. Amazon says "apps", any Android app? :shrug:


If I understand correctly, the Kindle Fire has access to Amazon's app store, but not Google's Android Market. But the Amazon app store already has a good selection; many apps available on Google's Android Market are also available on Amazon's app store.

#8 Astraforce Paul

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 05:03 PM

Time will tell as to the apps... I definitely wouldn't pre-order the device.

It has no GPS, no accelerometer, no compass according to Amazon and things on the web. It does have ads, though! :bawling: It goes into screen saver mode and there's the ad. That could be a deal breaker for night time astro work.

And, yes, the notion of cloud surfing with Big Brother tracking you, even more effectively than he does now, is a bit creepy!

#9 psonice

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 06:31 PM

I can't see that it'll ever have android market. Google reserve that for companies that toe the party line. What amazon have done is basically take android, dress it up, modify it in all sorts of ways, and stick it on a tablet. In the process they've likely removed a lot of google's revenue from android too, as well as kicking most of the other android tablet makers in the teeth (amazon can sell this at a loss and make money on content, samsung and the like can't compete!)

Considering that, and also the fact that samsung just agreed to pay microsoft money for every android device they sell (more patent infringement from google), I'd say this is a very bad day for android + google. But possible a very good day for android + amazon. :)

#10 ccs_hello

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 08:25 PM

What psonice said, plus ...

no SD slot (in this case Nook Color refurb is the winner),
non-standard android OS (is it really android?) (again a rooted N.C. wins),
e-Book/media centric (since no camera and no mic) (wash in these 2), and
no accelerator/gyro/magnetometer (wash) <- no good for positioning/astro.

My .02

#11 Markovich

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:04 PM

Some interesting reading about it:
http://gdgt.com/disc...sically-is-g8d/

#12 Ken Kobayashi

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:54 PM

What psonice said, plus ...

no SD slot (in this case Nook Color refurb is the winner),
non-standard android OS (is it really android?) (again a rooted N.C. wins),
e-Book/media centric (since no camera and no mic) (wash in these 2), and
no accelerator/gyro/magnetometer (wash) <- no good for positioning/astro.

My .02


If you want a full featured tablet, get a generic Android tablet. There are many of them available now. I'm posting from one right now (Galaxy Tab 10.1)

The Kindle Fire is purely a media tablet. IMO it's better than the Nook Color because Amazon not only has a huge selection of books for purchase, but also movies, TV shows, music and audiobooks (Amazon owns Audible). And if you have an Amazon Prime account you get a wide selection of TV and movies for no additional cost.

#13 ccs_hello

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 10:29 PM

<snip>
The Kindle Fire is purely a media tablet.
<snip>


I like this most succinct statement.

#14 dkb

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 08:05 AM

If you haven't noticed Amazon has gone out of its way not to promote "Android" with the Kindle Fire. The word "Android" is mentioned only ONCE on Amazon's page for the kindle fire. Even then it is mentioned as a side note under the e-mail section that you can get other android e-mail apps.

To me it looks like the term Android now has a negative connotation in customers eyes with all the bad PR from failed Android tables, unfinished tablets, abandoned tablets, etc.. and Amazon realizes this and is avoiding mentioning it as much as possible.

You could imagine if Samsung had a tablet that ran all iPad/iOS apps they would plaster the word iOS/iPad all over their marketing material.

Edit:
Their main page announcing the new kindles including the Kindle Fire does not mention the word Android at all.

#15 Don Trinko

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:33 AM

For me the deciding factor is if Astronomy apps are available. the web and email would be nice but I already have a PDA and netbook for this. Don T.

#16 psonice

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:41 AM

It's because it's not really an android tablet. They took android and 'forked' it, basically creating a split between the two, then changed it quite a lot. So it shares a lot of android code, and it'll some (probably most, maybe all) android apps, but it's not entirely android.

And because they forked it, google won't want much to do with it. It's effectively competing against google, so they're not going to authorise any of the closed parts of android. Don't expect it to run all of the google 'official' apps like email and the browser. Don't expect access to android market either. Amazon will be providing their own equivalents.

Speaking of their own equivalents, amazon have confirmed they'll be doing behavioural advertising with that new cloud-cached browser of theirs. This is something I'm very strongly against, it's a serious breach of privacy (MUCH worse than the already heavily abused cookie system). They've not even confirmed that they won't be monitoring your secure browsing - which would be secure email, banking, any company work you do online, etc! If you care about your privacy and your details and browsing habits being sold, make sure you can turn this off before buying one.

Hopefully opera will release their own browser for the fire, because that does pretty much exactly the same thing (despite amazon claiming it's new ;) and opera have stated that they won't touch your browsing history.

#17 Ken Kobayashi

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:47 AM

If you haven't noticed Amazon has gone out of its way not to promote "Android" with the Kindle Fire. The word "Android" is mentioned only ONCE on Amazon's page for the kindle fire. Even then it is mentioned as a side note under the e-mail section that you can get other android e-mail apps...


"Android" is a trademark owned by Google. The software itself is open source so you can modify it and use it on a tablet you sell. But you cannot call it an Android tablet unless it conforms with Google's guidelines and is approved by Google. There may be a license fee as well.

We know the Kindle Fire is not a Google approved Android device because it doesn't have access to the Google Android Market.

#18 dkb

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 11:28 AM


We know the Kindle Fire is not a Google approved Android device because it doesn't have access to the Google Android Market.


So what does this mean? You are basically stuck with the limited apps approved for on the Amazon app store?

#19 Ken Kobayashi

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 11:43 AM

Probably. But they already have a good selection of apps. For example, some expressed concern over the built-in browser, but the Amazon app store already has several alternatives including Opera and Dolphin.

#20 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 12:50 PM

I'm fond of Google's Sky map - Runs great on my Asus Android tablet. And it's free. There are a number of Android apps for astronomy.



Skymap runs nicely but has an extremely limited database, only the Messier objects. There are other Android astronomy apps, I think I have tried them all, some are cute but lack a serious database, Astrotools has the NGC and IC catalogs but it clunky and I find it difficult to use. I know someone here is working on it thought.

Vortex just added the NGC catalog but it is having trouble running on my HTC Incredible..

So.. to answer Don Trinko's question: I have been using Planetarium for the Palm for several years, first on a Palm M100, then a Handspring Visor, final on some Sony Clies (never should have given those away) and for the last few years a Palm Tungsten T-3...

I have found nothing for the Android OS that compares to Planetarium for the Palm, Planetarium is a mature and well thought out program with many useful features, it's powerful and you can customize the databases. I believe star catalogs are available down to mag 16 as well as a database including the entire NGC, IC, Abell and other catalogs...

With Sky Safari being ported to the Android OS, the promise of a real astro-app is there but it is not clear whether this Kindle will run standard Andriod apps and even if it will, will it be possible to download it.

Personally I am waiting for affordable, full featured Android Tablets to hit the market place. My gut feeling is that somewhere around $250, half the price of an Ipad, people will start buying Android Tablets with the full version of the 3.0 operating system.

Jon

#21 Ken Kobayashi

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 01:40 PM

I don't get it, what's so great about the iPad that it's worth twice as much as a comparable Android tablet? I I've owned both and even at the same price I prefer Android. It's more versatile and easier to use.

#22 rboe

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:52 PM

Some folks may find the UI more to their liking. At least they have a choice. :shrug:

Hey, you make your choice and put your money down. As long as they are happy we're happy.

#23 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:12 PM

I don't get it, what's so great about the iPad that it's worth twice as much as a comparable Android tablet? I I've owned both and even at the same price I prefer Android. It's more versatile and easier to use.


What is so great about the iPad??? I am not big fan of Apple Products but the obvious answer begins with "Several Serious Astronomy Apps."

At this point, it's something like iPad 6, Android 0 but there are men on base.

Jon

#24 bicparker

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:41 PM

Like Ron said, it is all about where you put your money. It is worth noting that Amazon is selling these at a loss, with the idea that they will make it easily up in subscription and content sales (which is an idea that they have already proven out with the original Kindle). So the lower price of the Kindle Fire compared to other tablets has some other built-in factors that may or may not make any difference to a potential user.

The biggest difference between the Kindle Fire and the iPad (and some of the other tablets) is that it is strictly targeted to the consumer market. There isn't any Exchange/Active Synch, VPN, or other business oriented features in this device (though there could be for additional costs). It is mostly a media delivery device, but I like to think of it as a consumer device because it does have a few other features besides content delivery (and I think there will be more added over time).

This product release highlights something I have held for a long time about Amazon. They are a software/technology house, not a retailer. They just use retailing as one of the monetizing part of their software/technology business model. They are making a ton of money on e-commerce hosting (for companies that we probably don't realize are using Amazon to power their websites) and other cloud services. This wasn't technology that they outsourced from everywhere, it was mostly developed in-house. They have some of the best technology talent in the world right now (a lot of which they recruited out of IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Google, and others). They use a lot of Linux/UNIX in-house so their re-versioning of Android makes sense with respect to their mobile devices. I suspect that several companies who regarded Amazon only for retail are beginning to regret that perspective now.

They have a built-in distribution channel through their their online retail presence (which is arguably the strongest in the world). This gives them a pretty powerful model for taking these tablets to the market. They have already learned a lot over the past several years with their previous Kindle experience, so this isn't their first rodeo. I think we will be seeing some more conspicuous and strategic moves from Amazon in the next few years. We may forget that they started out by selling books.

#25 psonice

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 06:47 PM

kobayashi: there are many reasons. If you go purely by quality and quantity of apps for example, android is probably worth a lot less than half price. After all, what's the value of a computer with no software? Almost zero!

The quality of the device + software makes a big difference too - I have an iPad and a HP touchpad. The touchpad I would say is worth less than half the price of an iPad just on quality and speed - the $100 'firesale' touchpad price is actually around the correct price I think!

Bic: from what I've read, amazon are using their new 'silk' browser to do behavioural advertising - which is something I'd consider slightly WORSE than spam. Spam is just like junk mail, you didn't ask for it but it gets shoved randomly through your letter box. Behavioural advertising is more like a bloke following you around everywhere, making notes and eavesdropping on your conversations, then selling the information on to various local salesmen.


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