Fire OS 3.5.1 Features
Your Fire phone is run by Amazon’s Android-based Fire OS 3.5.1. Unlike flagship Android phones, you do not get Google apps and services on your Fire phone. You get Amazon’s services in place of Google’s. That means Google Play store is replaced with the Amazon Appstore. Google Chrome is replaced by the Silk browser. Google Play Music is traded for Amazon Music, and Google Drive is replaced by Amazon Cloud Drive. Amazon even uses its own proprietary email client.
If you have been using a Kindle Fire tablet, you are somewhat familiar with what to expect from Fire OS3.5.1. The Fire phone has three primary views: the Home screen, a left panel, and a right panel. Read on to find out how to use Fire the OS on your new device.
The Unlock Screen
If you haven’t used your Fire phone for a while, the screen goes blank to conserve battery power. There are a number of ways for you to unlock the lock screen. As an example of one way to unlock your Fire phone, do the following:
- Press the Power button or Home button on your phone.
- Tap the mail icon in the Notification to be taken to the Mail application. You can tap any notification on the lock screen to be taken to that particular application.
For this example, slide the screen upward to unlock your Fire phone.
The Home Screen
After you unlock your Fire phone, you are presented with the Home screen. The Home screen contains three views: the Home screen, left panel, and right panel. By default, the left and right panels are hidden until you access them, and the status bar located at the top of the screen also remains hidden until you slightly tilt your Fire phone.
- Status bar: Shows the time, signal strength, battery level, and which type of network you are connected to: Wi-Fi or cellular. Also shows any notification icons, such as new mail. Tilt your fire phone at a slight angle to view information in the Status bar.
- Carousel: Think of the Carousel as a collection of your most used or recently used apps and items. Swipe your finger left to right to access all the items within the Carousel. Tap any item to take you straight to the app or item.
- Preview items: Underneath the Carousel are the preview items. The preview items are scrollable, and contextual in nature, as they reflect content that is relevant to the app or item currently centered onscreen in the Carousel. For example, if the Appstore is centered in the Carousel, the Preview items list the last game you played and recommend new apps you could try. If the Silk Browser is centered in the middle of the Carousel, your last Internet searches are found in the Preview items. Tap any Preview item to go straight to a product or web page.
- When the Email app is centered in the Carousel, Preview items list the recent emails you received in your default email account. You can drag an email item to the left to delete it from the preview area, without ever opening the Email app. Switch between email accounts in the Carousel by tapping the drop-down menu, as shown in the figure.
- App Grid: The App Grid is located under the Preview items at the bottom of the screen. Pull up the App Grid or tap the Home button to view it in its entirety. The App Grid houses all the apps found on your device and in the Cloud. When you download an app, it appears here. The App Grid is multiple pages.
Cloud/device: Tap to toggle between apps located in the Cloud and apps located on your device. You can easily install apps that are currently located only in the Cloud by tapping their icons and downloading them to your device.
Left panel: To open the left panel, swipe from the left edge of the screen to the center of the screen. You can also access the screen by tilting the screen to the right and then back to its starting position again in one motion. Both left and right panels are contextual in nature, meaning that the information shown is relevant to what you are doing. On the Home screen, you can use the left panel for menus and to navigate. Another example would be if you are listening to an audiobook—the left panel can help you navigate chapters, bookmarks, or adjust playback speeds.
Right panel: To open the right panel, swipe from the right edge of the screen to the center of the screen. You can also access the screen by tilting the screen to the left and back again in one motion. This panel also provides contextual information for the task at hand. While on the Home screen, it can display the weather in the area and any important events you have scheduled, emails, or a missed call. Another example is if you are listening to audiobooks—the right panel provides you examples of other similar books you could research.
Protect Your Phone with a PIN or Password
Out-of-the-box, your Fire phone is set to lock after 1 minute. This protects your device from accidental taps while it’s in your pocket, purse, or even carried in your hands. Unfortunately, this does not protect the confidential information that is on your Fire phone. If you set your device down, anyone can gain access to your personal information simply by swiping up the lock screen. You can protect your personal information by password protecting or pin protecting your phone. You learn the difference between these two options as you follow these instructions.
Tap the Settings icon in the Carousel or the App Grid.
Tap Lock Screen.
Tap Set a Password or PIN.
Tap PIN or Password. The PIN option uses a 4-digit number to protect your phone. The Password option uses a combination of numbers, letters, and/or special characters.
- Enter your PIN or Password.
- Confirm the new PIN or Password by typing it again.
- Now when you swipe up on the Lock screen, you must enter the PIN or Password to gain access to the device.
Tap to dial 911 in your area from the locked screen.
Use the Fire Phone Touchscreen
You mostly interact with your Fire phone by touching the screen—known as making gestures on the screen. You can touch, swipe, pinch, double-tap, and type.
Touch: To start an application, touch its icon. Touch a menu item to select it. Touch the letters of the onscreen keyboard to type.
Touch and hold: Touch and hold to interact with an object. For example, if you touch and hold an item in the Carousel or App Grid, a menu pops up. If you touch and hold an icon in the App Grid, you can also reposition it with your finger.
Drag: Dragging always starts with a touch and hold. For example, if you touch the Status bar, you can drag it down to read all the notifications.
Swipe or slide: Swipe or slide the screen to scroll quickly. To swipe or slide, move your finger across the screen quickly. Be careful not to touch and hold before you swipe, or you will reposition something.
Double-tap: Double-tapping is like double-clicking a mouse on a desktop computer. Tap the screen twice in quick succession. You can double-tap a map in the Maps app to zoom in to a specific area.
Pinch: To zoom in and out of images and pages, place your thumb and forefinger on the screen. Pinch them together to zoom out or spread them far apart to zoom in (unpinching). Applications such as Browser, Gallery, and Maps currently support pinching.
Rotate the screen: If you rotate your Fire phone from an upright position to being on its left or right side, the screen switches from portrait view to landscape view. Most applications honor the screen orientation. The Home screen does not.
In addition to typical touchscreen gestures commonly found on smartphones, such as touch and hold, drag, or swipe and slide, Fire phone comes equipped with some unique one-handed shortcuts. Some shortcuts enable you to access additional information; others make it convenient to access the settings panels or scroll through an article with one hand.
Peek: Hold your Fire phone at a slight angle to the left or right, or “peek,” to reveal more helpful information. For example, while shopping in the Kindle bookstore, peek to reveal the star rating of books.
Tilt: Tilt to access the left and right panels. Access the right panel by tilting the screen to the left and then back to its starting position again, in one motion. Close it by tilting the screen to the right and then back to its starting position again, in one motion. Access the left panel by tilting the screen to the right and then back to its starting position again, in one motion. Close it by tilting the screen to the left and then back to its starting position again in one motion.
Swivel: The swivel movement enables you to access the Quick Actions panel, which houses settings such as Airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, main settings, and more. Hold the device in portrait mode, and then swivel your wrist to the left or right to open the Quick Actions panel. By default, the swivel works from any screen, even the lock screen. Repeat the action to close the panel.
Go Back: Place your finger below the screen, starting either to the left or right of the Home button on the device, and then swipe up from the bottom of any screen to return to the previous screen. In this example, the go back gesture would take you back to the Home screen.
Auto-Scroll: Angle your Fire phone toward you or away from you to scroll down or scroll up a web page in the Silk browser, your Kindle library, or other supported apps. An arrow appears onscreen pointing in the direction you are scrolling. Increase the angle to accelerate scrolling up or down.