As expected, Amazon is upgrading its Appstore with social gaming features like achievements, leaderboards, and save game synchronization. The service, known as Amazon GameCircle, aims to bring Xbox LIVE-like features to Android. If you’re familiar with Xbox LIVE - or the Game Center on iOS, which was also inspired by Microsoft’s service – there’s not much new to look at. GameCircle’s current implementation appears to be very basic, but the features are still nice to have on Android.
Amazon is allowing game developers to turn in-game items like trophies, treasures, badges, awards, and other accolades into achievements, complete with the now-standard name, description, and image. Only Xbox LIVE’s Gamerscore system seems to have been left out of Amazon’s version. The design of the leaderboard, on the other hand, is different than most, since it’s sorted by percentile rather than the actual place on the leaderboard. Your score is shown in the middle of the leaderboard, flanked by the two closest players and two groups of three players ahead and behind you at set increments. Finally, GameCircle will allow you to sync your game progress, scores, and achievements across devices.
Amazon GameCircle isn’t groundbreaking in the slightest, but it does have a few nice features, particularly game progress synchronization. Hopefully this will become standard in all games moving forward. The service is currently supported by 15 games on Amazon’s Appstore for Android, including Temple Run, Doodle Jump, and Collapse! Developers looking to add GameCircle to their apps can contact Amazon to request API access.
The Amazon Appstore for Android will be opening its digital doors in Europe this summer, if a report in AllThingsD proves to be accurate. The online retailer’s Appstore is the biggest third-party destination for apps on Android devices. Part of its popularity is due to the free app of the day, which has managed to rope in many new users. The Appstore is also the only way to download apps on Amazon’s own Kindle Fire, provided you don’t root your heavily-modified Android tablet.
The European launch of the Amazon Appstore this fall, if true, will mark the first time that the service has been available outside of the United States. AllThingsD’s sources expect Amazon to make the big announcement next week, followed shortly thereafter by the opening of app submissions for inclusion in the new region.
In many ways, the Amazon Appstore is superior to Google Play. It is, however, much smaller. Hopefully, the potential to reach a larger audience will encourage even more developers to make their apps available on the Appstore.
Amazon is giving those of you itching to upgrade to a new phone something to think about. For starters, a new two-year contract will get you any Verizon Wireless phone available on its site. That’s right, one cent will get you an HTC Trophy, Droid X2, LG Revolution 4G, HTC Thunderbolt, Droid Bionic 4G, and so on. These are some of the best phones available on the market, and Amazon is basically giving them away. To top it all off, you get two-day shipping thrown in at no extra charge. Not bad.
Of course some upcoming announcements might leave you wondering whether this is a good time to purchase a phone, or if it’s better to just wait a couple of weeks. Only you can decide whether the new fall lineup is a couple hundred dollars better than what Amazon is offering right now, but I don’t think you’d be disappointed choosing either route.
The beautiful Nokia Lumia 900 is manufactured from a single-piece injection-molded polycarbonate shell and features a 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack Display (CBD), 1.4GHz processor, 16GB of internal memory, 512MB of RAM, and a 1830mAh battery. Performance-wise, it can best nearly every device on the market. The 8MP Carl Zeiss camera takes fantastic photos, and the quality of the 1MP front-facing camera is astounding. The intuitive Windows Phone OS, support for AT&T’s 4G LTE network, and $99 price tag are just icing on the cake.
Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
The Motorola DROID RAZR was easily one of the best Android phones of 2011. It was one of the first seriously thin phones and it had the best specifications, durability, and styling to come out of Motorola in a long time. Now, with the introduction of the MAXX variant, it's almost irresistible, even to those currently locked into a contract. With Verizon’s 4G LTE, a 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a 3300mAh battery pumping out over 21 hours of talk time, the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX is ecstasy wrapped in Kevlar.