Big Amazon Fire Phone update adds call blocking, custom ringtones, lots more

The Fire Phone's latest update is huge. Image: Amazon

The Fire Phone’s latest update is huge. Image: Amazon

Amazon may not have sold as many Fire Phones as it would have hoped, but the retail giant certainly isn’t giving up on the device. A new software update rolling out now to Fire Phone customers demonstrates its support with a whole host of new features and improvements, including support for call blocking, custom ringtones, VPN connections, and lots more.

Many of the features coming with¬†the Fire OS 3.6.8 update have been baked into regular Android and indeed most other smartphone operating systems for quite some time. But Fire Phone users have been without them since they adopted¬†Amazon’s debut smartphone, and so big releases like these are well worth looking forward to.

Here’s what you’ll find with this one:

  • Translate text and identify famous artwork with FireflyText translation from/to: English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, and artwork recognition for 2,000 famous paintings with info available from Wikipedia. To learn how to use Firefly, go toIdentify Movies, Music, Products & More with Firefly.
  • Take the perfect picture with Best ShotSee three versions of a given photo to choose the perfect shot. To learn how to use Best Shot, go to Take Photos & Personal Videos.
  • Enable or disable SMS / MMS settingsYou can now turn character counts and MMS on or off. To learn about SMS/MMS, go toMessaging.
  • Select additional keyboard languagesChoose from seven preloaded keyboard languages and 49 additional keyboard languages to download. To learn how to download a keyboard, go to Customize Your Language & Keyboard.
  • Block unwanted phone numbersDecline unwanted calls from any given contact. To learn how to block phone calls, go to Review Your Call History.
  • Add custom ringtones to your phoneAdd custom ringtones from the Amazon Appstore to your Fire phone. To learn more, go to Manage Ringtones & Notifications.
  • View more information from the lock screenControl music directly from the lock screen, and configure your phone to wake up when a new notification arrives. To learn about the lock screen, go to Customize the Lock Screen.
  • Write and edit documents with WPS OfficeEdit documents using the new, preloaded WPS Office app. To learn more, go to Docs.
  • Connect to a virtual private network (VPN) at workConnect to a secure, corporate VPN from your Fire using the native IPSec / L2TP VPN client to stay productive while on the go. To learn how to use the VPN feature, go to Set Up a VPN.
  • Sync calendars across Amazon devices registered to your Amazon accountCreate appointments that are automatically synced across supported Fire phones and Fire tablets registered to your Amazon account with Amazon Cloud Calendar. To learn how to use Amazon Cloud Calendar, go to Calendar.
  • Read your Kindle books in one continuous scrollRead and scroll through Kindle books without ever having to touch the screen. To learn how to use Auto-Scroll, go to One-Handed Shortcuts.

And that’s not all; Amazon is also promising improved battery life, “hundreds” of bug fixes, and improvements to the Fire OS user interface.

“This release is optimized for unlocked Fire phones,” Amazon says, which likely means you’ll have to wait for it if you got your handset on contract. But if you didn’t, you can expect to see the update soon if it hasn’t already arrived.