News of the Kindle for iPhone app release has, as you might expect, hit the airwaves big time. Amazon has made it clear they will be making it possible to use Kindle ebook content on other devices and they have made good with the iPhone app.
I own one of the original Kindles, although I haven’t used it for at least six months; heck, I haven’t even seen it for that long. When I first got the Kindle I gave it a good try as my main ebook reader, purchasing a few books from Amazon to do so. I ended up having too much trouble getting comfortable with the Kindle, so when Kevin asked if he could borrow it I said, “Sure, keep it as long as you need it.” He’s still got it, although I’ve heard it’s coming back to me — but with the introduction of the iPhone software, I may not need it (just ignore that, Kevin).
I should give you some background about my ebook habits so that this quick review of the iKindle has some perspective. I have been reading ebooks for years and regular readers are no doubt familiar with my preference for the eReader experience. I love the multiplatform nature of the eReader program and have always been able to derive from it a great reading experience, no matter what device I might be using at the time. Some folks do not like reading ebooks for long periods on a small phone screen, but I quite enjoy it. I have read dozens of ebooks quite happily on my iPhone using eReader, so remember that when it comes to my Kindle-for-iPhone impressions.
I grabbed Kindle for iPhone first thing this morning and I’ve been using it since. I must say I am quite happy with my new “iKindle.” I was pretty amazed when I installed it OTA on my iPhone and fired it up the first time. It asked for my Amazon Kindle account information, which I supplied, and in seconds I was looking at my online Kindle bookshelf with all the ebooks I purchased last year.
I opened one of the books up on the iKindle and got my first exposure to the Whispersync technology in action. The book opened instantly to the last position that Kevin had been reading on my Kindle, in the greater Philly area. This blew me away as I could see the benefit to those who read Kindle ebooks on both a Kindle reader and the iPhone. The bookmarks and last-read position is available on both devices, something I’ve always wished for with eReader, given all the different devices I use with that program.
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I am also very impressed with the speed of Kindle on the iPhone. Things just happen instantly, which goes a long way to providing an enjoyable reading experience. Even changing the font size (five choices available) happens instantly, with no visible re-pagination needed. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere is the inability to read ebooks on the iKindle in landscape. It’s not something I do ordinarily but I know some folks like reading on the iPhone in landscape to provide a wider view. You can’t do that here; it’s portrait-only for now, I’m afraid.
Kindle for iPhone is sadly lacking options to change the way the book displays on the screen. It would be nice to see themes or at least the ability to display something other than black text on a white screen. That can be overpowering when reading in bed at night. Hopefully Amazon will add more configurability in future versions of the app.
I am quite happy with the ebook reading experience with Kindle on the iPhone and I recommend the curious give it a try. The app is free; you only need to buy a book on Amazon to get started. Keep in mind that I love reading ebooks on my mobile devices so YMMV if you’re not so inclined. If you’re one of those, then get the Kindle 2. Note that with this iPhone version you do not need to own a Kindle to use it. Amazon smartly just wants to sell you ebooks.
You cannot buy ebooks from Amazon through the iPhone app, which is a bit of a pain. You either buy them on your desktop or jump into Safari on the iPhone and buy away. Either way, the book will be pushed to the iPhone and ready the next time you launch Kindle, which is pretty sweet. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon add the ability to buy books from the iPhone in the future.
It’s also not outside the realm of possibility that Amazon and Apple could cook up a deal to sell Kindle ebooks through the iTunes Store. Apple is not convinced the ebook market is big enough for them but this would be a cheap way for them to make money off ebooks in the meantime. Amazon would likely be open to that business arrangement, I would think. The only downside for consumers would likely result from Apple’s insistence that the iPhone/ iPod Touch be the only devices to get the Kindle software. That would suck if it happened.