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For quite a while I’ve been thinking about switching from Apple Music to Spotify. I’ve been an Apple Music user since day one and rely on the Apple ecosystem for everything (from AirPods to HomePod and all other Apple devices), so I thought this would be a tough decision.

In April, I decided that I’d finally give Spotify a chance, and I’ve got some initial thoughts: the good, the bad, and all the surprises along the way. A couple of weeks from now, I’ll give my final opinion on whether I stick with Spotify or whether I return to Apple Music.

Migrating from Apple Music to Spotify Why did I decide to try Spotify?

Apple Music has seen brighter days: wrong covers, delays to new albums and songs, and content missing have been occurring a lot recently. Spotify, on the other hand, recently rolled out a new user interface, and I’ve always wanted to try all of the social experiences on the music streaming service. This includes connecting to more friends, sharing my playlists, and getting to know more about Spotify’s “magical” algorithm.

How did I migrate my library?

To start my experience with Spotify, I had to migrate all my library from one service to another, and I wouldn’t be able to do that one song per time. That’s why I used FreeYourMusic. It’s a free-to-download app, but to migrate an entire library, a onetime purchase is required.

After more than a day of migrating my whole library, most of my playlists and songs looked alright. Surprisingly, the app was able to match most of my songs, but, for some reason, it had a lot of trouble with the Beatles – music rights? – and I’ve now got a lot of Beatles covers instead of the original albums. If you want to know more about how to transfer Apple Music songs to Spotify (or any other music streaming service, actually), check out our full coverage here.

Spotify is the same price as Apple Music: $9.99/month on the individual plan, but unlike Apple Music, you only have one month for free as a Spotify Premium user, and Apple Music gives you three months.

The good about Spotify All my friends are here

Apple Music always felt like an empty party. Sure, I have many friends that use the streaming service, but Apple doesn’t focus that much on friends’ playlists, what they’re listening to, and ways to engage with them, such as creating collaborative playlists.

The first thing I noticed was how many of my Facebook friends are on Spotify: more than 400. On Apple Music, I have around 20 friends, and that’s only if I consider Eddy Cue a friend.

I of course didn’t add all 400 of them. In fact, this also got me thinking about how personal listening to music is. I added only people I really care about, and I think it’s fun to know what they’re listening to while I’m working on my Mac.

Sound quality, handoff, and lots of playlists

I always heard that Spotify doesn’t have the best sound quality, and that’s true if you’re using the free tier subscription. But if you’re paying for Spotify, you can set the streaming quality to “Very High” or 320 kbit/s. You’ll also be able to stream in a HiFi quality with a newer subscription tier later this year.

At this point, 320 kbit/s is better than Apple’s AAC on Apple Music, which is available only in songs labeled as Apple Digital Masters. You can’t know if a song has this label on Apple Music, you have to search for the album on the iTunes Store and see if the artists master their songs with Apple’s own coding.

I’m not an audiophile, but I can say I have been enjoying my songs a bit more on Spotify with the AirPods Pro than I did with Apple Music. What’s weird is that I don’t hear any difference when using the Beats Studio3 Wireless, which means both music streaming services sound good for me.

One thing I loved about Spotify is the seamless integration between devices. I can continue a song on my Mac that is playing on the iPhone. It’s just a tap away using Spotify’s powerful Connect platform.

Apple kind of has this with the HomePod, but I’ve found Spotify Connect to be far more reliable than Handoff and AirPlay.

Last but not least, it’s fun to see the Daily Mix playlists with exactly what I love to listen to. That’s different from Apple Music, in which I focus the most on my Library. I’ve been using the “Home” tab on Spotify a lot more. I can easily see what I have recently listened to and start playing my favorite songs with just two taps.

The bad about Spotify HomePod integration

AirPlaying Spotify to the HomePod is weird. While it technically works OK, the sound quality seems lower than when compared to Apple Music. It could be my impression only, but it feels like HomePod doesn’t give its full sound potential when I use AirPlay with Spotify.

Additionally, there is no way to interact with Spotify using HomePod. While Apple added this technology, Pandora is the only music player to incorporate it so far. Whether or not Spotify is working on this feature remains to be seen, but it’s a glaring omission right now.

I also tried linking my Spotify account to my third-generation Amazon Echo, and both streaming services sound the same.

There’s a lot of playlists and I want to listen to my songs

You just heard from me that playlists are a great part of Spotify, but at the same time, it feels like it’s the only one. I have this feeling that the app forces you to discover new songs, and every time you finish an album, it just keeps playing a similar thing.

That’s nice, but sometimes I just want to finish an album and that’s it. Or I just want to listen to one specific song. But this has also shown me that I use music streaming services differently than most people.

Most people probably listen to an album or playlist, right? Well, I like to shuffle all my downloaded songs every now and then, and finding your entire library of songs in Spotify isn’t as easy as in Apple Music.

This algorithmic approach to music has its pros and its cons. As much as discovering new songs is great, most of the time I just want to jump to Folklore by Taylor Swift, Battle Born by The Killers, or Milo Greene’s self-titled album, and that’s it.

Wrap-up

There’s still some time until I decide whether I’m going to keep on using Spotify or to go back to Apple Music. In the meantime, I’d like to hear what you like the most about Spotify, and what you want me to try while I’m testing the service.

Stay tuned for my next article on Spotify vs. Apple Music, where I’ll try to talk more about my overall experience and Spotify’s features that I haven’t yet had time to test.

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Spotify Vs Youtube Music Vs Apple Music: Which One Is Best

Read next: What is YouTube Music? Everything you need to know

What we like:

Excellent library of songs.

Excellent discoverability and social features.

The app is easy to use and get used to.

The extra features, like the lyrics, are top-notch.

Podcasts and audiobooks round out a full media experience.

Compatible with almost everything.

What we don’t like:

Hi-Fi option is taking an eternity to launch, and audio quality is otherwise middle of the road.

The free version on mobile is notably worse than free Spotify on other platforms.

The search function is a little cluttered.

Integration with your existing library is just okay.

Spotify is the most popular music streaming service in the world for a reason. When you open the app, you’re met with a simple UI that takes you exactly where you want to go. The library lets you create playlists or follow individual artists, while the home section is rife with playlists catered to your tastes. The low-fi, all-black UI keeps distractions at bay so you can just chill and listen to music.

The only negative aspect of the app, in terms of usability, is the search function. It works really well if you’re searching for a podcast or a song. However, it can feel cluttered occasionally if you’re searching for a specific live performance or something more obscure.

Read more: Spotify review on SoundGuys

Apple Music pros and cons

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

What we like:

Good-looking UI with logically placed controls.

Lossless audio is available without extra cost.

You can upload 100,000 of your own songs.

Extras, like spatial audio with head tracking, are neat.

The music player has lyrics by default, like Spotify, which is a nice touch.

Works on enough platforms to appease most people.

What we don’t like:

Lacks some fun features, like collaborative playlists.

Works way better on Apple devices than basically any other platform.

The Siri-only $4.99 plan is weird, and we can’t think of any reason to get it over the normal plan.

It has the smallest library and the highest individual account price tag of all three services.

Apple Music is easily the best choice of the three for audiophiles, and the UI has gotten a lot better as well.

In day-to-day use, Apple Music is a willing companion. Adding songs to playlists and your library is easy, and the service has a variety of radio stations and curated playlists to help bolster discoverability. It’s not quite as good as Spotify in terms of discovery features, but it’s definitely good enough. It worked fine with Android Auto as well as my Xbox Series X. There was very little drama when using it.

Perhaps the best part of Apple Music is the power-user features. On top of the lossless audio, you can also upload your own audio to the service. It does convert your audio to AAC, though, so purists may not enjoy that. In any case, you can get all of your music in one place, and that’s always a bonus. It’s a surprisingly good option, even if it only boasts 70 million songs instead of the 80+ million of other services.

Read more: Apple Music review on SoundGuys

YouTube Music pros and cons

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

What we like:

Integration with YouTube gives it more music choices than anybody.

You can upload 100,000 of your own tracks to the service.

It has a slightly better free mobile phone experience than Spotify.

Keeps up with the Joneses with things like collaborative playlists, curated playlists, and decent discoverability features.

What we don’t like:

Not the best audio streaming quality, with no lossless option.

Doesn’t include spatial audio.

The UI is the worst of the three services. The controls are laid out well, but usability isn’t as clean as we’d like.

It has the lowest number of supported platforms, including no support for modern game consoles and limited support for smart TVs.

Read more: YouTube Music review on SoundGuys

Which one is the best?

As per the norm with these types of comparisons, there’s a lot that comes down to preference. However, we’ll try to be as objective as we can here.

YouTube Music is the best value

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

YouTube Music’s marriage to YouTube makes it a ridiculously good deal, and nothing else comes close.

Between YouTube Music and YouTube, it has the largest library of music.

It still has desirable features, like an end-of-the-year recap, collaborative playlists, curated playlists, and offline listening.

The UI could definitely be better, and we’d prefer it if subscribing to an artist on YouTube Music doesn’t also subscribe to them on YouTube.

Still, the bang for your buck far exceeds what you’d get on the other services.

Spotify is the best for ease of use and discoverability

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Spotify is the best choice for folks who just want their streaming service to work everywhere and find new music that they like.

The size of the song library doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to use it. Spotify knows how to use theirs, and it’s still one of the biggest ones among streaming services.

Discoverability is top-notch, and it still has stuff like collaborative playlists, offline listening, and radio stations.

Podcasts and audiobooks give Spotify some depth to its content, making it a better value than services that only serve music.

It works everywhere, including the car, smart TVs, game consoles, smartwatches, and basically anywhere else you can think of.

Apple Music is best for audiophiles

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Apple Music doesn’t have the most value, but it certainly gives you a great overall experience, especially if streaming quality matters to you.

Excellent streaming quality, and lossless is included in the cost of the base subscription.

It lacks collaborative playlists, but it otherwise keeps up with features like spatial audio, uploading your own tracks, curated playlists, and radio stations to discover new music.

It’s not on as many platforms as Spotify, but it’s still available on many more platforms than YouTube Music.

It’s subjective, but I think the UI looks nicer than the other two. Spotify is functional but somewhat dated, as is YouTube Music. Apple Music’s presentation is better.

FAQ

All three services can be set to use as little data as possible. However, since it does include lossless audio, Apple Music will most likely use the most data if set to always stream at max quality.

Oneplus 8T First Impressions: Reasons To Buy

Reasons to Buy OnePlus 8T Glass Back

The new OnePlus 8T comes with a glossy glass back with Gorilla Glass protection. The handset comes in Aquamarine Green and Lunar Silver color options.

The green one has a diffuse reflection that scatters light in an array of directions to offer a clean, gleaming surface. While the Lunar Silver color offers matte finish on the glass.

The front of the device is very cool and impressive, with a small punch-hole design, which also has a Gorilla Glass protection. The phone is easy to hold despite having a big screen.

Talking about the compact factor, it has only 8.4mm thickness and 188g weight. There is an under-display fingerprint sensor. The notification slider button is still there.

120Hz AMOLED Display

The phone sports a 6.55-inch FHD+(1080 x 2400 pixels) Fluid AMOLED display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and a 16-megapixel in-screen camera.

The screen is protected by flat Corning Gorilla Glass, supports up to 120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, and HDR10+.

It has tuned color accuracy rating of JNCD ~.0.3 for life-like quality and 8192 degrees of brightness adjustment, that’s why OnePlus 8T has received A+ rating from DisplayMate.

Snapdragon 865 Processor

The phone is powered by Snapdragon 865 7nm SoC with support for X55 5G modem that offers both NSA and SA 5G networks. It also has a vapor chamber, along with graphite for cooling, that is 285% larger than the OnePlus 8. The phone is paired with up to 12GB LPDDR4X RAM and up tp 256GB UFS 3.1 storage.

65W Fast Charger & 45W PD Charging

The phone packs a 4500mAh (twin 2250mAh) battery with Warp Charge 65W fast charging support that can charge the phone fully in just 39 minutes. The new Warp charger is equipped with 12 thermal monitors to keep temperatures at a safe level.

Moreover, the charger also supports up to 45W PD charging so that it can also charge other devices such as laptops or tablets.

Android 11 with OxygenOS 11

This is one of the first phones to come with Android 11 out of the box in India. The layered OxygenOS 11 also brings some useful and cool features to now more cleaner UI.

One of such features is customizable lock screen, or you can also say Always-on display. You can set a clock to this screen and also customize it as per your needs.

Another useful features is in-built video recorder in the gallery app. Yes, you can edit videos shot with OnePlus devices, within the gallery app itself. It includes all the basic editing features, such as trimming, adding music etc.

Reasons Not to Buy OnePlus 8T Cameras Need Improvement

Since the main sensor is the same 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor with f/1.7 aperture this time, and there is an 16MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro and a 2MP depth camera.

The camera comes with all the features like OIS+EIS, 4K & slo-mo recoding support, video night scape, video portrait and video tracking.

The above camera samples are actually screengrabs from our video, but you can get an idea how the colors and details are captured.

Talking about the 16MP front-facing camera with Sony IMX471 sensor and f/2.45 aperture that also comes with EIS support.

No 3.5mm Headphone Jack

OnePlus 8T Price & Availability

OnePlus 8T price in India starts at Rs. 42,999 for the 8GB+128GB version and the 12GB+256GB version costs Rs. 45,999.

The phone will be available via chúng tôi chúng tôi and OnePlus Experience stores starting from October 16.

OnePlus 8T First Impressions: Wrapping Up

These were our first impressions about OnePlus 8T. As you can clearly see, there is not a strong reason, why you shouldn’t buy this phone. If the camera performance may improve with some software updates, and you don’t really care about 3.5mm jack, OnePlus 8T might be a perfect flagship phone for you in an affordable budget.

Ipad Pro Diary: Day 1, First Impressions

This could be dangerous to my wallet. The last time I ordered an Apple gadget, confident that I wouldn’t be keeping it, I turned out to be wrong. Very wrong.

My view of the iPad Pro before mine arrived was very clear: this was a corporate device. It’s going to be great for carrying around lots of A4 documents to view at almost full size. It’s going to be a fantastic presentation tool for one-on-one meetings.

But I didn’t see it as a consumer device. It does nothing a standard sized iPad can’t do – though I was sure my colleague Dom was going to be right in describing it as a killer Netflix machine.

But will it, like the Watch, win me over in my arbitrary one-week trial … ? 

I was fully expecting my first impression to be that it was big – very big. Curiously, this wasn’t the case. I’d ordered the Logitech Create keyboard with it, and two separate packages arrived. I opened the larger of the two, expecting it to be the iPad, but nope, that was the keyboard.

Even when I took it out of the box, it didn’t look huge. Holding it in my hands, it felt big for sure, but not ridiculously so, as I’d expected. In fact, it was only really when I put it next to my iPad Air 2 that the true size difference became instantly visible.

Which was when I noticed something unexpected: the iPad Pro didn’t look huge, the iPad Air 2 started to look a little small. My wallet was starting to feel a little nervous.

Similarly with my iPhone 6s. I actually stuck with my iPhone 4s right up until the iPhone 6, as I actually preferred the more pocket-friendly size. Eventually I had to upgrade, of course, but I still find it right at the limit of the size I’d want a phone to be. In this company, though, it looked rather small.

It still feels like a slim device, though the Logitech keyboard does make it significantly thicker.

I thought a size comparison with my MacBooks would be interesting. First with my MBP 17.

But the really interesting comparison is with my MacBook Air 11 – the one I was praising yesterday. That’s the top photo (where metering from the screen does some interesting things to the color of the desk due to the white balance), but to save you the trouble of scrolling:

Their overall dimensions, with the keyboard, are not dissimilar. But suddenly the MacBook Air screen feels a little cramped.

In use

Switching it on and restoring from a backup reminded me how clunky this process is. Restoring a new device from backup, whether it’s iCloud or iTunes, ought to be a simple two-step process: confirm you want to do the restore, then enter your iCloud credentials and wait.

It’s really not like that. You have to login to iCloud multiple times, and then login to all your apps. It’s a pain, and Apple really needs to make this process much, much better. But that’s another topic. Back to the iPad Pro …

Once everything was restored, the first thing that struck me was the ridiculous waste of space on the Home screen.

I know Apple doesn’t want to do different grid spacings for every single device, but this is crazy. In fact, to show just how crazy, Benjamin took Jeremy’s iPad Pro Home screen and managed to fit the original iPhone Home screen in the gap between icons!

Apple could comfortably accommodate eight columns by six rows on this size screen with plenty of space between icons – even more for my personal tastes. That would be double the number of apps per screen, something I’d love to see.

Using apps is a very mixed experience. Some are nothing short of fantastic! Reading a magazine in Magzster, for example, is just a joy. You don’t need to scroll or zoom on any page – it’s almost like holding the paper magazine in your hands. This one needs the iPhone 6s in shot for scale.

It’s beautiful. If you’re a magazine guy, and could afford to drop this kind of cash on the Pro, that’s almost enough reason right there.

iBooks too is just lovely. In landscape mode, you have the closest thing you’re ever going to get to holding the paper book in your hands.

In an ideal world, I’d like to see the book use a little more of the width of the display, but it really is a fantastic way to read a book. (Yes, by a staggering coincidence, that is one of my technothrillers.)

iBooks makes good use of the screen size on the library screen, with the covers a sensible size. Kindle doesn’t, and really needs to follow Apple’s lead here – the covers are too big on this size screen.

Netflix is indeed a joy to watch, as you’d expect, but again could usefully reduce the size of the icons for the Pro.

Most apps are not yet optimized for the iPad Pro, so as Jeremy mentioned yesterday, mostly what you see are standard iPad apps, magnified. Everything works just fine, but many do look rather silly.

But web pages … that’s a different matter! With my iPad Air 2, I almost always keep the screen locked to landscape mode. But with the iPad Pro, portrait mode is just fantastic. Webpages start to feel like magazine or newspaper pages. Here’s how much of the BBC news site you can see in portrait model, for example – and on the Pro, the text is all comfortably sized.

It’s the same story with other websites (ours, for example). You see a lot of the page at once, and get a very magazine-like experience.

But by this stage I had discovered one drawback: I was really starting to feel the weight difference. The iPad Pro weighs 1.59 pounds against just under a pound for the iPad Air 2. When you’re holding it in one hand to scroll with the other, you do really feel that weight. When you have to hold it still with one hand to type with the other, then it’s nothing short of uncomfortable.

John Gruber even went as far as to suggest that this is the first iOS device designed to be used on a desktop rather than in the hand. I wouldn’t go that far, but yes, if you’re planning to type on it, you do definitely want it on your desk.

The iPad Pro is also undeniably less portable than its smaller brothers. I have a shoulder bag that accommodates my normal iPad, and this definitely wouldn’t fit.

Conclusions so far

It’s a lovely device. Even in the few hours I’ve had to play with it so far, the size has already started to feel normal – the weight not so much.

I’ve had very little time to play with the keyboard as yet, so I’ll talk about that in the next update. I do like the fact that there’s no messing around with pairing. Immediate impressions of it in use are that it isn’t as nice as a MacBook keyboard, nor the Brydge one I use with my iPad Air 2, but it does the job. ‘Adequate but not great’ would be my immediate assessment.

Which does, of course, raise another issue. If you have a bunch of accessories for your iPad – case, keyboard and so on – then the true cost of upgrading to the larger device are even higher than the rather steep purchase price (I of course opted for the 128GB with LTE).

Am I likely to keep the iPad Pro? Before it arrived, I was confident the answer would be ‘no.’ I have to confess, I’m already less sure. My wallet is currently looking over its shoulder with a very nervous expression.

But I haven’t taken it outside the house yet. Once I start carrying it around, and using it on the move (as I will tomorrow evening), I’m going to get a more realistic perspective. Let’s see.

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Xiaomi Mi4 First Impressions: Fat But Good

The Xiaomi Mi4 can be seen as a slight departure from previous Xiaomi phones. Instead of loading their new phone with the latest, cutting edge features (as they have managed in the past), Xiaomi instead decided to refine the work they had already started with the Mi3 and build it all in a new body made of quality materials.

So instead of a Snapdragon 810, 4GB RAM, 2K display etc the Xiaomi Mi4 has a Snapdragon 801, 3GB RAM and 1080 FHD display, and that’s just fine by us as those specs are more than enough for everything you could want to throw at it. Not loading the new phone with (unnecessary ?) features, has allowed the Mi4 to receive a stainless steel chassis, and better build quality than ever. If Weibo is to be believed (hmmm) the Mi4 is so good that wives of Xiaomi bosses have thrown their iPhones away in favour of the new Mi Phone.

Xiaomi Mi4 – First Impressions

This year has been amazing for Chinese phone fans, for us too! We have recently reviewed the OnePlus One, were one of the first to get our hands on the Oppo Find 7 and we have the 2 flagship Vivo phones in constant use at the office. So the Xioami Mi4 really does have it’s work cut out, and thankfully we haven’t been let down.

Gizchina News of the week

After using the most recent, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus devices the new Xiaomi does feel rather thick in the hand, and that stainless steel adds a bit of heft to the phone too. The thickness of the phone isn’t wasted though as there is a 3080 mAh battery inside, but had they gone for a 5.2 or 5.5-inch display the same size battery could have gone in a thinner body without sacrificing screen on time.

I’ve yet to remove the rear panel, and I cannot wait for the wooden covers to launch as that could be the missing design touch the phone needs to really grab people’s attention.

Build and material choice wise, there isn’t anything between the Xiaomi Mi4 and other current Chinese flagships. So all good there!

Full testing of the phone is needed to see how the performance really is, but looking over the hardware and using the phone for the past day I can say for now it is as fast as anything else on the market. In fact the camera on the Mi4 is actually faster than most other phones and even gives the Meizu MX3 a run for its money (yes, the MX3 still has one of the fastest cameras on the market but the Mi4 has a larger aperture and more mega-pixels).  While I’m on the camera, there is a significant improvement here, but the auto-focus isn’t as good as it could be. Perphaps MIUI V6 will fix this?

Xiaomi Mi4 – Photo Samples

MIUI on the Mi4 is version 5 and based on Android Kitkat. I do like MIUI for its functions etc, but the UI is looking a little old so I cannot wait to see what is in store on 16th August when the new system is launched.

Even if you don’t like MIUI you could always use another launcher if you wish. Nova launcher is great, however the Google Now Launcher is what I prefer but I cannot seem to get MIUI to allow me to change to Google’s launcher. I have the same issue with the Xiaomi Mi Pad too. No matter how I try I cannot get Google launcher to show up in the launcher settings.

This first version of the Xiaomi Mi4 does not support LTE so I cannot test that. In fact I’ve had the phone such a short amount of time I haven’t had chance to test 3G, or the IR blaster, but WIFI has a very strong signal. Battery life, GPS and other details will have to wait until the full review.

As for now though the Mi4 is a great addition to the Xiaomi line up and a great flagship phone in its own right. The design, construction and hardware are equal to rival phones and the price is similar too. The choice of which you should buy now really comes down to just personal preference of the screen size and which ROM you prefer.

Amazon Kindle Fire First Impressions: Solid But Limited

Where Amazon Stumbles

The Kindle Fire is limited in several meaningful ways. For starters, it ships with just 8GB of memory. That isn’t a lot of space for the kind of content I can easily envision consumers clamoring to use with the tablet. Surprisingly I got multiple different answers from Amazon execs when I asked them how much space a typical 2-hour movie takes up: The most intelligible of the answers suggested that up to 20 movies could reside on the device at once, but the reply clearly means that, as you amass your digital media collection, you’ll need to make hard decisions about what you want to have on your Kindle Fire and when you should have it–not unlike the quandary over what should stay on your DVR. Forget taking the whole five seasons of Babylon 5 with you wherever you go, let alone carrying lots of video if your device is also packed with music. Yes, device media management has the potential to become quite tiresome over time–though just how tiresome is impossible to say until we have working devices in our hands.

You can sideload content of your own, but you’ll also have to shop for your own apps to play that content. The video player is solely for Amazon purchased or streamed content, and the device has no image gallery for showcasing your favorite snaps.

Another limitation may be apps. The Kindle Fire uses a variation of Android 2.3, with its own mostly unique interface; I say “mostly” because every so often, in the Web browser or in messages that popped up, I saw hints of the Kindle Fire’s Android roots. Apps for the device will come from the Amazon Appstore, but Amazon stocks a fraction of the total number of Android apps available now–just 10,000 of the 200,000 in the Android Market.

Still another issue beyond the comparatively limited app selection: Amazon again gave mixed answers regarding compatibility between the Kindle Fire and the greater universe of Android apps. One spokesperson said that apps that called for features that aren’t on the tablet (such as a camera) wouldn’t work; another said outright that the company would be curating apps; and still another, when asked about app compatibility, mentioned that apps would have to be qualified to work, and that some might not work with the Kindle Fire. Furthermore, when asked about the coming Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, and how apps designed for it or Honeycomb will work on the Kindle Fire, the Amazon rep couldn’t field an answer beyond noting that if Ice Cream Sandwich requires Amazon to do something to maintain compatibility, “we’ll do our best” to do so.

As a potential buyer, I would have liked more reassurance that come mid-2012, the hot Android apps will work on my Kindle Fire tablet, because the changes made to the operating system are minimal enough that Amazon expects to be able to work around any situations that may arise. Yes, I understand that Amazon hasn’t seen Ice Cream Sandwich yet, but the company’s developers should be aware of the direction the OS is heading in, and how that might impact Amazon’s ecosystem.

One more nit to pick: Although the interface seemed visually appealing overall, the music player looked surprisingly rough. When playing a track, the interface appeared to pay some attention to detail, but I can’t say the same about the album and track listings, for example.

What Amazon Did Right

Another win: Its on-board storefronts for Kindle books, Android apps, and movies and TV shows are visually appealing. The device’s tight ties to the various storefronts, coupled with the company’s vast selection of movies, TV episodes, books, and music, set the Kindle Fire apart from the crowded pack of generic Android tablets, which can play content but have no direct hooks to stores (beyond the books and movie rentals in Google’s Market). With the Kindle Fire, acquiring content and using it on your tablet looks to be seamless. More critically, seeing what’s in the cloud for you to download should be simple, too–as simple as tapping on the content, and tapping Download. Of course, it’s difficult to say just how deep and smooth the integration is, given the limited bits on display at the launch.

Related Slideshow: Meet Amazon’s Four New Kindles

In many ways, the Kindle Fire isn’t trying to beat the iPad or the Android-tablet masses at their own game. The Kindle Fire is doing its own thing, and going after a totally different audience.

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