We're familiar with cloud storage, where you store your files on a faraway web server belonging to Microsoft, Google or Amazon, but the launch of Amazon's Kindle Fire brings a much more interesting kind of cloud computing to your tablet: when you browse the Web on a Kindle Fire, Amazon's computers are doing most of the processing for you.
The idea is a fairly simple one, although the underlying technology is very clever. When you visit a site, the various requests your computer makes - asking for the web page, for its graphics, for any animations or videos or additional content - are routed through Amazon's servers. That happens for everyone, so for example if you visit the BBC, Amazon knows which pages you're probably going to look at, so it's got them ready and waiting for you. The time saving is small - fractions of a second - but the difference is still noticeable.
That's not all Amazon does. It also works out the best way to get the content to you, so if you're on a slow mobile connection it'll squash the image files and other large elements to get things to you as fast as possible; if there's complex code to run, it'll run it on its servers and simply send you the result. To get an idea of what's possible using this kind of technology, the new gaming firm OnLive can deliver PC-quality graphics and gameplay to gamers on smartphones and tablets. The heavy lifting - the processing and the graphics processing - is done at OnLive's end, and all that needs to be transmitted to you is the resulting video footage. In effect, it doesn't matter what hardware's inside your tablet: it's as powerful as the Amazon or OnLive computers it's connected to.
It's not all perfect, though. There may be privacy implications or security implications to having a single firm view all your web traffic, and there are stability issues too: if you're dependent on Amazon's servers to see the Web, what happens if something goes wrong at Amazon? Overall, though, it's fascinating idea that could transform the way tablets work.
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