With the release of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Watch just around the corner, Amazon has announced a special offer for their Trade-In Program. If you submit an item before October 10, that price will be locked-in for the following 45 days after that submission, with these gadgets currently worth the following amounts:
iPhone 5S – $400 for 64 GB
iPhone 5 – $350 for 64 GB
iPad Mini – currently at $150.75 – $261.8 based on model and memory size
Samsung Galaxy Gear – $71.40
Pebble Steel Smartwatch for iPhone – $100
This offer for the Amazon Trade-In Program is set to last for the next month, through until October 10.
Sev Zero is the first game made by Amazon Game Studios to have made its way to the Fire TV, and now there’s a companion app for iPad to go alongside it.
With the iPad app, players can bring friends and family into the battle against the Ne’athu, with the player on the iPad acting as air support, sending down air strikes to take out the enemy. Meanwhile, the other player can continue the tower defense and first-person shooter side of the combat.
Sev Zero: Air Support is available on iPad now and is free to download, whilst Sev Zero is available on the Amazon App Store and costs $6.99.
Are you angry about the new Comixology app, which removes the ability to buy comics from inside the app itself? If so, you should be just as angry at Apple for their policies making such an absurd situation, where an app can offer the ability to consume the content it sells without actually selling it, as much as you are at Comixology/Amazon for inconveniencing you.
The economics for the change are clear: they were giving 30% of every sale to Apple, as per App Store policies. That’s the way it’s been since the App Store opened – every time money changes hands, Apple takes its 30% cut. When in-app purchases were introduced, Apple kept the rate per transaction the same: 30% on everything. Thus, when Comixology sold a comic for $3.99, they only got ~$2.80 from it, for a book they had to sell for the same price on their site, by Apple policies.
For years, Comixology’s Comics app was one of the top grossing apps on the App Store – especially on the iPad. Source: AppAnnie
So, that 30% fee on transactions that Apple takes is problematically high. Certainly, it can be justified for paid apps: Apple provides approval, storage, bandwidth, tax collection, and a variety of services beyond just taking the money, in order to justify taking such a cut of a developer’s revenue.
You could go to your local comics shop or to a vendor at a convention, and using a Square credit card reader, they can sell you that comic at a 2.75% per swipe fee. So what right does Apple have to be taking 30% on a similar transaction? I think they should be allowed to take a reasonable premium on top of payment processing for the App Store services they provide, but it’s clear that 30% is unreasonable, especially for low-margin fields like the sale of music, movies, and comic books.
And because Apple specifically restricts outside payment systems, there’s no recourse for anyone who wants to offer media or subscription services through an app but to not sell said services in the app itself. It’s why you can’t buy a Netflix, Spotify, or Dropbox subscription from inside their apps at all – because Apple can’t take their steep tax.
Apps like Kindle have to sidestep just why they can’t actually sell you books in the app itself
Why would Apple, a seemingly pro-consumer company in the way that they design their products to be easy to use, do this? Well, they’re not actually a pro-consumer company. They’re a pro-Apple-consumer company. Everything they do is designed explicitly to get you to stay with Apple products. Ever thought about getting an Android or Windows Phone but decided not to because you didn’t want to lose iMessage? Exactly.
Remember that Apple sells music, video, and books of their own (though not comics to the scale that Comixology does); they have a weighted incentive to make it hard for outside sources to provide them on the App Store unless they pay the exorbitant 30% fee. And when people are inconvenienced by app makers because of Apple’s policies they get mad at the app maker, not Apple, which has to cause a chill to run up the spine of anyone struggling with a similar decision as Comixology.
Thus, Android Comixology users can still buy comics through the app. Those who relied on Google Play credit to buy books will find themselves out of luck. Of course, Google doesn’t have a monopoly over content distribution or an interest on keeping people as tied to Google Play and their own services, but it’s still a better way to operate than the monopolistic way that Apple does. The 30% payment processor fee for in-app purchases is still on the exorbitant side, but the nature of it is a lot more fair.
So, what Apple ultimately has is a situation that’s meant to give off the illusion of consumer-friendliness by making it only possible to spend money through iTunes accounts, when it really restricts the freedom that people have to get the content they want, where they want it from.
If a solution that’s actually friendly to users (and not just to those who buy in to the Apple system) is to happen, it’s going to require public pressure. They could enact the exact same policy that Google Play has, for one. This same policy is the one that allows Starbucks to allow for store credit refills through direct credit card or PayPal payments. It just needs to be expanded to cross-platform media so that users don’t get left out in the cold, or compelled to buy from Apple’s stores. Give them actual choice.
Or Apple needs to make their tax on in-app purchases – these purely digital transactions – a smaller fee, in order for it to be viable for sellers in high-margin transactions involving media. Somewhere from 5 to 10% may be more reasonable than the current 30%. Whatever the solution I believe change needs to happen, because right now, the ultimate loser from Apple policies are ordinary people who have had convenience taken away from them because of corporate politics.
A little over a year ago, everything changed. My daughter, Peregrine (Pip, for short), was born, and along with the myriad recalibrations, adjustments, and joyous changes that birth brought with it, I also finally came to terms with the true value of the iPhone camera: baby pictures! Hundreds and hundreds of them (no exaggeration) were taken by me, by friends, and by family, and then scattered over hard drives, social networks, and of course iPhones. The problem then became figuring out how to organize and store them privately and securely. As a devoted Mac user it’s easy enough to keep photos stored on iPhoto, but that’s a local option only, with limited cloud storage and sharing (those 1,000 photos on iCloud? Please!), and god forbid my hard drive crashes without proper backup.
I thought all of my problems with cloud storage for photos were solved when Everpix came along. Here was a fantastic, well-designed app that also had great web-based software and a Mac-based uploader. Best of all, it could load in all of my photos from various social streams, eliminate or hide duplicates, and handle a potentially unlimited number of photos for a reasonable monthly or yearly price.
There was just one big problem though; Everpix went out of business.
Before I get to the heart of this article, there are a few lessons to learn from my Everpix experience.
One: Always keep all of your photos on a local hard drive.
Two: Backup said hard drive as often as humanly possible (something I still don’t do, so do as I say, not as I do).
Three: Never, ever assume that a site, app, or service will exist forever. It won’t; it just won’t. They will all go away at some point. Some will last five years. Some will last a year or two. Some of the very best won’t even make it that long.
So I found myself back at square one, trying to find another good (read, as close to the effortless Everpix as I could get) cloud-based storage solution for my photos. Read on for my look at nine different cloud storage services that work with iOS.
Posted by Rob Rich on February 10th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Amazon App, Amazon’s official iOS app, has recently been updated with an interesting new feature called “Flow.” Flow allows users to search for and order multiple items at once simply by passing their camera over them. No snapping pictures, typing in keyword searches, or scanning barcodes required. The app then saves all of the scanned items to shopping carts or wish lists where users can decide what to do with them later. I mean, do you really need that gallon of Tuscan Whole Milk?
The new Amazon App is available for free, and the update is live.
Posted by Rob LeFebvre on November 27th, 2012 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Those of us of a certain age and demographic will remember the holidays of yore, spent poring over the fragile, tear-prone pages of the Sears catalog, dreaming of all the things Santa might bring. Looks like Amazon is looking to recreate the magic with its latest app, Amazon Santa.
With the tap of a finger, kids and their parents can explore by product category or type a search to find the perfect gift and instantly create a Wish List. Parents can review and edit the Wish List as needed, and easily share each child’s list with grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and family friends. Wish Lists shared via the Amazon Santa app can only be viewed by family and friends who receive the Wish List link. The list shows recipients wished-for items, including those that have already been purchased, helping to eliminate duplicate gifts.
Posted by Jeff Scott on October 12th, 2012 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
One of our favorite second screen apps, NextGuide has been updated to add Amazon Prime videos to its catalog. This comes in addition to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes. A solid update. Here’s the full update info:
Introducing the latest version of NextGuide, with new content, improved user experience, and tons of tweaks based on user feedback! Thanks everyone!
>> Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant support! Now browse from Amazon’s huge streaming TV and Movie library in addition to live TV, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes!
>> New Gestures – two-finger swipe within showcards, pinch to hide, fullscreen media gallery, and more!
>> Enhanced Cast & Crew with 1-click saved searches and Wikipedia biography lookups.
>> New Category Editor with easy drag & drop category setup
>> Channel Setup now part of Initial Setup Wizard
>> Improved “Your Picks” algorithms
>> Lots of other little new features for you to explore throughout the app
>> Performance improvements, bug fixes, and bears, oh my!
This week at 148Apps, we left our white shoes behind and got ready for some football with Carter Dotson’s round-up of apps for the NFL 2012 season: “Are you ready for some football, in particular the 2012–2013 season of the premier American football league, the National Football League? Well, with the season kicking off tonight with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants playing the Dallas Cowboys, I’ve collected four apps to help make the game-watching and fantasy-football-playing experience better. No matter what, they’re better than the replacement refs are going to be!”
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-07-23 :: Category: Sports
Over at GiggleApps, Amy Solomon reviewed This Is My Body-Anatomy for Kids, saying, “I have really enjoyed perusing this application, consisting of many sections that cover such topics as how fast one grows, the skin, one’s senses, as well as the different systems of the body, such as digestive, respiratory, muscular, nervous and skeletal, going into a very nice amount of depth for children to appreciate.
As this app opens up, children are given a choice of characters to follow, nicely including boy and girl choices some of which are children of color and an Asian character – lovely inclusions still not seen often enough in the US iTunes store.”
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-08-21 :: Category: Education
And stalwart reporter Carter Dotson returned yet again, this time on AndroidRundown, to look at the latest developments from Apple iPad rival Amazon: “While rumors of a new iPad mini spread, and the Nexus 7 enjoys its sales numbers, Amazon has laid dormant until now with the announcement of new Kindle Fire devices.
The flagship is the Kindle Fire HD. This will come in both an 8.9″ variety and a 7″ variety; the specs on the 7″ are supposed to be the same as the 8.9″, but Amazon was more keen to show off this version. It’s got a 1920×1200 screen (true HD!) which is 254 ppi (compared to the iPad retina display’s 264 ppi), to go along with a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor, which Amazon claims can do 50% more floating point operations as compared to the Tegra 3 processor in the Nexus 7.”
And that’s a wrap of this weekly wrap-up! Join us throughout the week for the latest contests, reviews and news on our Facebook site as well as on Twitter. Until next week, remember – no white after Labor Day!
This week at 148Apps, a new video revolution began, as Amazon.com released its Amazon Instant Video app for the iPad. Carter Dotson writes, “Amazon Instant Video is now available on iPad, expanding out the Amazon’s vast library of video offerings to iOS users. This offers streaming of purchased movies and TV shows from Amazon, with the ability to sync up watch lists between devices. It also includes titles available from Amazon Prime, similar to Netflix, a service offering over 120,000 streaming movies and TV shows. It is only available as a yearly subscription from Amazon as part of the Prime service that also includes free 2-day shipping on Amazon items.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-31 :: Category: Entertainment
Over at GiggleApps.com, writer Amy Solomon got us ready for mealtime wither her review of Bo’s Dinnertime. She writes, “Bo’s Dinnertime in a cute and fun interactive universal app that teaches the sequencing of events that lead up to dinnertime, such as food shopping, putting away groceries, cooking and setting the table, as well as eating dinner and cleaning up afterwards. A simple and sweet song is also included, as is a section dedicated to selecting and eating foods with the tap of a finger. Narration is included, leading children though varied food related exercises, complete with subtle highlighting of new objects to tap or interact with, keeping the flow of this app going nicely.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-05-15 :: Category: Education
Last, but certainly not least, 148Apps.biz writer Carter Dotson explored the results of a recent study by KinderTown. He says, “KinderTown, developers of an app that helps collect the best kids apps on the App Store, have released a study based on searches within their app. Their “KinderSights” analytics study collected data from June 20th to July 10th, and they have released the results from the study, revealing some key insights into those that search for kids’ apps on the App Store.
The most-searched criterion was age, with 50.2% of searches looking for apps for a particular age. Second was price at 40.6%, followed by platform at 31.8%, and the type of app was last at 30.2%.”
This week may be done, but there’s no need to worry. More app reviews, news and contests are always on their way across the 148Apps network. Just follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook to stay on top of all the happenings. See you next week, Gothamites!
It’s been a great week for those who use video streaming services on their iPads. Yesterday Hulu Plus added Apple TV support to its app and today Amazon Prime members finally have iPad access to Amazon Instant Video. The service, and app by corollary, is part Netflix, part iTunes allowing you to stream a library of 120,000 movies and TV shows including very current ones for $79 or order titles a la carte.
There are some other cool features as well. You can create a Watchlist, or queue if you prefer, that is available on any platform. It shows rented media and your personal collection. Season Pass holders will be able to see their favortie shows within 24 hours of broadcast and those shows will be added to the Watchlist automatically. Videos can be streamed over Wi-Fi or downloaded for offline viewing.
The one hitch is that in order to circumvent Apple’s 30% take of all in-app purchases, Amazon does with Instant Video what it does with its Kindle app. That is, it forces users to the Amazon web site to order. The extra step is a nuisance, but for those who use a Kindle Fire, or are in other ways tied into Amazon’s digital media ecosystem, it’s not really that much work.
Oddly missing is AirPlay or Apple TV support for video (right now it’s audio only). There is no word yet from any Amazon spokesperson on future plans or to explain the omission. If you use to the service and try it out on your iPad, please let us know what you think in the comments.
Amazon is introducing an updated version of the Kindle app, which is supposed to be optimized for the new iPad. The app has been a huge success, with Amazon claiming it is the #5 best-selling free app of all time. Users can expect new features and a better look.
The main appeal for the new app is that it was designed with the new iPad’s high-resolution display in mind. Amazon claims that fonts and images will look better and clearer.
The redesigned interface will also give users the options to read “in the cloud”, so they can easily switch between devices with the Kindle app installed and have their books stay in sync. This feature was previously only available for platforms other than the iPad.
The Amazon Kindle store has also been redesigned for the Safari web browser on devices running iOS. Users who wish to buy books on their iPad will still need to access the Kindle store through Safari.
Between the Amazon Kindle App and Apple’s own iBooks store, the iPad has firmly established its place as a major player in the e-Reader market. Amazon, also being a very major player, is continuing to secure their own position by making it as easy as possible to get their content anywhere. The latest example of this is their new, touch-friendly, iPad-optimized Kindle Store.
To access the store iPad users must simply enter www.amazon.com/iPadKindleStore into their Safari browsers. From there they can shop for books in the new, touch-screen compatible layout with genres, editor’s picks and top 100 paid and free books easy to search. Amazon encourages adding the site to the home screen for even easier access.
The site also supports the Kindle Cloud Reader function. Any books purchased are stored on the cloud, ready to the accessed on any Kindle device, including this new website. Readers can keep going even if the internet connection is lost. As more mobile versions of sites crop up, it’s good to see that tablets are getting their own sites too.
Buttonless: Incredible iPhone and iPad Games and the Stories Behind Them is coming out December 21 (and available for pre-order now) to bookstores and online retailers everywhere. It’s a book about iOS games and their stories by Ryan Rigney, a freelance journalist who has covered the video-game industry from every angle for publications and sites including Gamasutra, PC Gamer and GamePro. We managed to talk with him for a bit about the inspirations for the book, among other things. Click through to the post for the interview AND an exclusive chapter from the upcoming book, all about Fruit Ninja.
Apple’s recent restrictions on apps offering external subscriptions and content are starting to hit, particularly as these apps are starting to remove external links to purchase content that isn’t offered through Apple’s services. However, there’s nothing that Apple can do about web apps – and that’s what Amazon is looking to exploit to improve their Kindle service on the iPad, with the Cloud Reader.
The Kindle Cloud Reader, powered by HTML5, allows Kindle users to read their books either directly in Safari for iPad (it isn’t available for iPhone and iPod touch yet), or by saving a bookmark to the home screen that will let it run as a full screen web app. From there, all the books that a user has purchased on Kindle will be readable, though some books are not yet optimized for the Cloud Reader. These books can either just be downloaded from the web, or can be downloaded to the device for offline reading, which can be done by long-pressing on any book in the library and selecting “Pin Book.”
The most important part of the Cloud Reader besides being able to exist outside of the Apple approval process, is that it has built-in Kindle Store access. Users can browse and buy books from within the Cloud Reader, and start reading them right away. Compare this to the current state of the Kindle app, where the ability to buy new books, and any consideration of book buying is non-existent. It’s like the presence of these books in the library is just a fortunate coincidence for the user. By pushing their Cloud Reader, Amazon can not only be platform-agnostic (though only Safari on iPad, Safari for Mac, and Google Chrome are officially supported, although it will be coming to other platforms in coming month), but can make it easier for them to sell Kindle books to users. Don’t be surprised if Nook and other e-reader services start launching similar HTML5 options in the near future.
Amazon has launched their Cloud Player recently, offering 5GB of free cloud-based storage to users, with additional space available via subscription and 20GB available for free by an album download. Amazon allows for music on their Cloud drives to be played back by users either via a browser, or by way of an app. A platform notably missing from Cloud Player support has been iOS – the app launched on Android as an upgrade to the official Amazon MP3 app, but an iOS app has not been released. Why the Cloud Player has not had support for iOS yet is a good question. The most likely reason is because the Cloud Player is inextricably linked with Amazon’s competing Amazon MP3 Store, especially as purchases from the store are available on users’ Cloud Player accounts immediately. This likely means that there will never be an official iOS app version for the Cloud Player.
However, hope is not lost for iOS users looking to stream their music from Amazon’s cloud solution. Amazon has updated the web version of Cloud Player to support Mobile Safari. This support appears to be unofficial – when trying to launch the Cloud Player from an iOS device, a warning prompts that it is not supported on the user’s browser. However, the service loads properly, and allows for browsing of music, and it will play back without issue through Safari on iOS devices. As well, the Cloud Player supports iOS’ multitasking controls directly, so it is possible to play and pause while using other apps. Track skipping however appears to not be working, after testing on both an iPod touch 4G and iPad 1G, so there are still some restrictions with the player and multitasking, although tracks do auto-advance while in the browser.
While the native app experience for the Amazon Cloud Player is superior, especially on Android, this does at least present something of a solution for iOS users looking to use the service, if/until Amazon is able to get an app on the App Store for users to use. It is unlikely that it ever will show up, but considering that apps like Rdio exist, it could happen someday, and this might just be a start in that direction.
Amazon has just launched the latest update to their Kindle app and this latest edition adds some much-needed new functionality. Update 2.5 enables both side-loading and background downloading of Kindle-compatible material, providing access to a whole range of new content with absolutely minimal extra effort.
Side-loading allows Kindle users to download any compatible materials into the Kindle library. That means mail attachments, files from Project Gutenberg or material from any other compatible source can easily be transported into Kindle. Basically if it’s a .mobi or .prc file you can now import them into the Kindle app without fear of the dreaded incompatible file. In addition, you can now drag compatible files to the Kindle app via iTunes, so files saved on your computer can easily be imported into the app.
The other major new component included in the update is support for background downloading, which takes advantage of one of the signature new features of iOS 4. Now you can start downloading a book or other material and then jump to another app while Kindle continues the download in the background. Great for impatient users or folks who simply prefer to multitask while waiting for something to download and install into the app.
This latest update is truly welcome news, as it flings open the doors of Kindle and provides users with access to millions of books and documents which were previously locked away. As the eReader wars continue to rage on this update puts Kindle near the front of the pack, providing nicely enhanced functionality and some very attractive new features. Though Kindle may not quite be an absolute solution to all your eReading needs quite yet, it’s very quickly moving in that direction.
The holiday shopping season is an incredibly stressful time. You find what you think is the perfect gift, but it seems a little expensive and you start to wonder if you couldn’t find it cheaper somewhere else. Of course, if you walk away now you may find out that the price is no better at other stores or, even worse, by the time you decide to buy everyone is sold out of the product you want. Amazon is trying to alleviate your fears at least a little by launching the new Price Check app, which should go a long way in helping shoppers find the best deals.
Price Check allows users to scan a product’s barcode with their iPhone, or even take a picture of the item in question or say or type its name into Amazon’s database. The app then scours the Amazon Marketplace to find the item in question and provide a price list. If the online price is better than what you can find in-store then you can buy the item with one click and then go on your merry way.
The app is constantly being updated, but Amazon promises that there are already “millions of products” in the database so hopefully you should be able to find what you’re looking for. All searches are automatically sorted with the lowest prices at the top, as well as information on shipping costs or if the product qualifies for free shipping. Is it handy? You bet it is.
Apps like these also force physical stores to be very upfront and honest about their prices. While department stores may claim that sweater or camera is “on sale,” a quick perusal of Price Check will let you know if the price being offered is truly a good deal or if the store is just deflating the price of an outrageous markup. For the informed shopper, the power is now in your hands.
As if impulse buying on the Internet weren’t easy (and dangerous) enough already, Amazon has upped the ante by releasing the Windowshop app for the iPad. The free app will allow users to browse and purchase items off Amazon’s online marketplace, and the entire experience has been built from the ground up with the iPad in mind.
The app features all of Amazon’s traditional listings, including separating products into Bestsellers, New Releases, etc. The app also allows users to pop up and zoom in on specific products, letting them see descriptions, HD images and user reviews all in one screen. Amazon Prime members will also see which products qualify for the premium service and will be able to take advantage of Amazon’s 1-click checkout, which is both the greatest and most devious invention known to mankind.
This app should be great for all the hipster holiday shoppers who can now whip out their iPad in the coffee shop and order trendy gifts for friends and loved ones off one of the Internet’s most-beloved marketplaces. I assume it’ll also be great for normal busy adults who can now shop during commutes or when on a lunch break, but that’s not as funny a mental image. At any rate, enjoy this super-useful app for all your online shopping needs, just remember where your cutoff point is and don’t go crazy buying stuff you don’t need simply because it’s so darn convenient.
Most people who have seen my new iPad react with the same question, “should I get this or the Kindle?” Apple, obviously, intended its iPad to be perceived as much more than an eBook reader. Yet the much publicized launch of the iBookstore, along with the iPad’s slim form factor, have led many consumers to perceive the iPad as an expensive eBook reader.
The Kindle is the Premier eBook Reader
Amazon's Kindle 2
The Kindle was launched solely as an eBook reader and is marketed as such. Jeff Bezos, on introducing the device, said of the Kindle that “it’s so ambitious to take something as highly evolved as the book and improve on it. And maybe even change the way people read.” Amazon has definitely done much of the legwork in improving the acceptability of the eBook as a new medium for written material. Amazon’s true innovation was bringing E-Ink technology to the consumer market, along with doing the technical legwork to simplify the reading experience. At its core, the Kindle is a delivery device – a user purchases a book as they would online and finds it available for reading seconds later.
The reading experience does everything it can to mimic the experience of paper, all of which is aided by E-Ink. The screen is technology’s response to those who complained that they would never be able to read a book on a traditional LCD screen or a laptop. The Kindle itself is merely the size of a large paperback and is lighter than most printed books. The Kindle is Bezos’ effort to translate the book for the digital age, and he has largely succeeded in providing a popular and widely accepted new platform.
The iPad as an eBook Reader
Apple's iPad with iBooks
The iPad has benefited from terrific interest from both book publishers and book retailers. As a consequence we’ve seen innovative new packages like the Vook and traditional books from retailers like B&N, Amazon, and more. While the Kindle has a terrific – and probably the largest – bookstore, the iPad offers more choices for where you get your ebooks.
There’s Apple’s iBooks, Amazon’s Kindle reading app, B&N’s new iPad reader, and more. The three largest players each offer different solutions to the eBook problem. iBooks tries to mimic the feel of a physical book, utilizing a color UI with beautifully rendered page turns. The Kindle’s UI is black and white and encourages the same type of user interaction as the physical Kindle – a simple tap on the side of the screen changes pages in a fluid transition not as visually distracting as that of iBooks. B&N’s app allows users to choose from dozens of different visual settings but maintains the same fluid page transitions as Amazon’s Kindle app. Only the iBooks app has a store in-app; the others force the reader to go to Safari to purchase books. This is a definite snag in the clear workflow Bezos presented with the original Kindle, but one that I’m sure both B&N and Amazon will surmount in future applications.
The iPad’s reflective LCD screen probably isn’t the best for simply reading a book. It’s a pain in the sun, where it’s nearly impossible to see the text on a page. E-Ink mainly solves this problem with its screen. People who have issues reading for long periods of time on their laptops may wish to reconsider an iPad purchase if it’s intended solely as an eBook reader. While the reading experience is cleaner and more enjoyable, it’s the same experience as the backlit screens most notebooks include. In addition, the iPad’s battery life is rated at 10 hours, enough for most commuters but nowhere near the weeks the Kindle can last for.
The iPad as a Platform: Bigger Than Books
A Vook on the iPad
The key differentiator between the two comes when we move beyond the simple eBook reading features. The Kindle includes a browser, but not one that functions nearly as well as the iPad’s. It’s black and white and renders incredibly slowly due to the E-Ink screen technology. The iPad’s Safari browser is widely regarded as one of the best on a mobile platform.
I’ve always seen the iPad as more than a traditional book reader as well. The Kindle simply translates the book reading experience into the digital age but strives not to completely alter the way we experience books. New features like Amazon’s Popular Highlights add subtle suggestions about the importance of a passage but do not redefine the reading workflow. Cool ideas like the aforementioned Vook change the reading experience by adding videos, multimedia, more information about certain topics (with links) and more. Could the iPad help the form of the written word change? Only time, and developers, will tell.
Those of you struggling with the decision to purchase an iPad or a Kindle might want to do some soul searching. What do you want from your portable device? Just books and nothing more? Buy a Kindle – that’s what it’s meant for. But if you’re looking for a small computer, with thousands of different and innovative new applications that could redefine reading, the iPad is for you.
Lexcycle, acquired last year by Amazon, released a version of their popular iPhone/iPod touch eReader Stanza for the iPad last week. Stanza was my eReader of choice on my iPhone and I’m thrilled it’s finally been ported to the iPad. It’s a terrific reader that’s compatible with a wide variety of different formats. Before Stanza for iPad was released, I used Calibre to convert my eBooks to iBooks’ required ePub format. Stanza allows users to read in a whole bunch of formats, and the 3.0 release adds PDF, DjVu, and Comic Book Archive support to Stanza’s already extensive library of readable files.
Stanza includes the most customizable reading interface I’ve seen on a mobile application. It allows you to customize nearly everything, from the page turning animations (a slide like the Kindle’s or a page turning animation like iBooks’) to the background and color of the text. Stanza really does make the experience all about the text – the user is able to customize everything about the way the book is viewed. Barnes and Nobles’ app was lauded earlier this week for including the same customization but their application locks you into using their bookstore. Stanza lets you load your own books onto the iPad or iPhone. It also, however, allows you access to a variety of other eBook stores directly from the phone.
Stanza's Text Descriptions
Perhaps the application’s best feature is Stanza’s Detail views for text. Highlighting text using the traditional copy and paste mechanism in iBooks yields a tooltip that lets you bookmark (highlight) and look things up in the dictionary. It’s a more complicated scenario in Stanza but one that offers one additional option – the ability to share text on Facebook, Twitter, and through email. The detail view pulls up the paragraph in question in an iPhone-sized window and makes it easier to select text.
Stanza works perfectly with Calibre, my app of choice for eBook conversion. It now allows for a really simple workflow to get eBooks from the desktop to an iPad. It’s possible to move books by utilizing a computer as a wireless server, or by pushing them from Calibre into iTunes. It’s also possible to drag books into iTunes and into Stanza.
Stanza is the ideal reading experience, with customizable colors, animations, and more and compatibility with dozens of different formats. The Lexcycle team has succeeded in bringing the great iPhone app to the iPad and I, as an avid reader, am glad they did so.
While not the most robust ebook reader around, Amazon has just laid down the gauntlet in the iPhone / iPod Touch ebook war. Get instant access to over 240,000 books, even ones you've previously purchased for your Kindle!
Bio: Web developer by day, Mac and iPhone developer by night.
– Created iPodderX, the world’s first podcast client
– Wrote “Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Safari” prior to the SDK being released
– Loan Shark was chosen early on by Apple as a “Featured” app, and is also featured in Apple’s own “iPhone Your Life” pages.
Finishing up our interview with August, I ask him about what it is like being an iPhone developer in the lime-light, or Celebrity Developer. He talks about how much fun it has been to break out of the traditional role from time to time, and how it has really helped out his programming business.
I also get his opinions on Apple’s filing to have jailbreaking iPhones judged illegal, what that means to the development community, and how jailbreaking is actually beneficial to the App Store and making the iPhone a popular development platform. August also tells us why he has avoided it.
Most importantly, August gives us the breaking story about the soon to be released app, YOWZA!!, and how it will change the way you shop and use your iPhone.
Listen to how August met Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman on Heroes) on Twitter, and joined forces with Rick Yaeger from MacMerc, to create a whole new business model for an iPhone app, and how they have tackled the problems of turning your iPhone into a money-saving shopping tool! And it’s going to be FREE!
Next Read helps you to keep track of books that others have suggested for you—suggestions that might otherwise be lost. Literature lovers will find Next Read to be a useful way to organize suggestions; others should probably pass.