A first look at Amazon Kindle Fire's unique UI, cloud-accelerated Silk browser

A first look at Amazon Kindle Fire's unique UI, cloud-accelerated Silk browser
The Amazon Kindle Fire arrived with a splash in the form of industry daring $199 price tag. And by industry, we mean mostly the iPad, but there’s something else special about this 7-inch tablet and it’s the unique user interface. The Amazon Kindle Fire is built based on Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread, but you wouldn’t say it from its looks. The UI has undergone a complete overhaul and while Amazon has introduced some limitations to the platform, it has included what looks like a very speedy browser, named Silk.

Looking at the home screen of the interface first, you’re basically facing a bookshelf. It contains all your most recently accessed content and you can flick around it, which looks like a fun way to handle multitasking. Above the upper shelf, there are a couple of categories, which quickly filter the content you have, so you can see your: books, music, videos, docs and the web. There’s also an “apps” tab, which lists all your applications. While we’re at the topic, we should also mention that the Kindle Fire supports the Amazon Appstore, which might not be as rich as Google’s Android Market, but definitely has some essential apps.

For music, you have a music player, which allows quick acccess to Amazon’s music service and the same goes for movies. And that’s one area where you’d notice Android leftovers as pulling down from the top of the tablet brings the Android drop down, so you can easily control music playback while you read for example.

There are more shelves to the bottom of the main screen, acting like stacks for your favorite applications, so you can easily access them, but overall no resemblance whatsoever to classic Android looks.

When it comes to the browser, the Amazon Kindle Fire features the Silk browser, which is cloud-accelerated. Amazon refers to the design as “split” as some of the content is pushed to its servers for faster processing. It’s supposed to be noticeably faster than the competition and one way to achieve this is through downsizing large images. With Amazon Web Services the browser is exchanging information with latency of only 5ms, which further boosts loading speeds.

Processing content on the cloud, allows the browser to make use of a form of collective knowledge, so that while other browsers must wait to receive an HTML version of a webpage before loading other elements, the Silk browser in often cases would have often loaded it already. So with a neat combination of a polished UI and speedy browser, what are your thoughts about the Amazon Kindle Fire? Will it manage to be the first tablet to truly rival and undercut the iPad?

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