Version Reviewed: 1.2.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5/Apple Watch
iPhone/Apple Watch Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Something you should know before getting any further into this review: Wear Reader is an “auto reader” app, which means it displays one word at a time and cycles through them automatically at a set speed. I’d call that its first problem, but I understand that’s not entirely fair. There are e-readers that are specifically designed to display eBooks in such a manner, and it works quite well for a number of people. For me it’s just a jumble of disjointed words and I’d much rather have a block of text to scroll through, but that’s not the kind of app this is. If you’re looking for a more traditional e-reading app, this isn’t it.
Wear Reader is an e-reader that’s designed specifically for wearables - in this case, the Apple Watch. It currently supports both ePub and .docx files, and loading either onto the app is a simple matter of importing from Dropbox or iCloud. Unfortunately this is where the praising ends.
You can’t tell but I paused to sigh audibly before starting on this section of the review. Uploading an eBook is a breeze, but actually using the app to read it isn’t. The most immediate problem I’ve run into is the interface itself. Simply put, it’s not intuitive or user-friendly. The menu portion of the app, which you can reach by swiping over to the right, looks like an info page rather than a list of adjustable options. It took me longer than I care to admit to figure out how to actually change between books.
Some options aren’t even displayed fully, with the text getting cut off and no way to scroll over to see what the rest of it says. I also wonder why I have to go into the menu to change the WPM (Words Per Minute) display speed when there’s this super-handy knob on the side of the watch that could easily be used to dial things up or down. Simply put, the interface could use an overhaul.
Another potentially worse problem, and one that’s far less subjective, is the fact that the app doesn’t disable the Watch’s automatic screen shutoff. On multiple occasions I was sitting there trying to follow along with the text and the display turned itself off. This is kind of a big deal for an app that’s designed to have users watching the screen for extended periods of time.
I really wanted Wear Reader to be my go-to app for reading eBooks on the Apple Watch, but it has too many basic usability issues for that. With time this could change, but for now it still needs a lot of work.