TheStreet's technology editor Chris Ciaccia explains how Amazon's new Firefly app works:
Bezos unveiled a new feature known as Firefly, which can recognize over 100 million items, such as a CD, song, book, game, food or other item. For a instance, if a user sees a CD, a song from it can be played on Amazon on another music app such as Pandora or iHeartRadio. Users can scan a book using Firefly, and then purchase it.
While there's no question Firefly looks really cool, as far as I know Bezos neglected to mention that one of its niftiest features is hardly new at all. In fact, if you own an iPhone from Apple (AAPL - Get Report) with recent iOS software and the Amazon shopping app installed, you can already scan an item -- bar code or the actual item itself -- and proceed to purchase it from Amazon. All you have to do is use the "Flow" feature.
So, if you follow me, Amazon built a feature into its, by the looks of it, excellent all-purpose, though shopping-centric Firefly app that's been available on Apple's iPhone only to tout that feature as a cornerstone of its "new" Firefly app set to debut on Fire phone. It makes me wonder if the Bezos strategy of knocking off hardware isn't getting just a bit old. You can read my rationale around that point in Apple Executing a More Powerful Strategy Than Amazon.
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.