Reading on the move is a great way to spend some time and feel like you’re doing something fun or productive.
While you can stick to tried-and-true solutions like a book or Kindle, there are easier options out there - and you can find all of them on your mobile.
Read on to discover the best reading apps on mobile.
Somewhat predictably, you can’t really beat Amazon’s Kindle app. The store offers access to more than three million books, as well as many audiobooks and exclusive titles.
You can also read newspapers and magazines - as well as customise the experience so it looks exactly how you want. What more could you need?
Apple’s own solution, iBooks, is pretty good. You can easily browse through extensive content and purchase books using your iTunes credit.
You can choose from seven fonts and three choices of page color, plus it’s easy to bookmark and highlight favorite sections of the text.
Not quite a reading tool but essential nonetheless, Goodreads is a social network for book fans. You can keep track of what you’re reading, view personalized recommendations, and see what your friends are reading too.
Options for writing book reviews are also available and it’s great for when you need motivation to read more, or simply want to discover something new.
Not in the mood for reading but want to hear a story? Audiobooks from Audible is the audiobooks equivalent of Kindle and iBooks.
You can easily explore the catalogue of over 180,000 titles before choosing to listen to one wherever you go. Even if you’re on the treadmill at the gym, you can listen to a story unfold, and the app does a great job of saving your place at all times.
How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Take a look at what we've been up to this week, and find even more in our Reviews Archive.
Order & Chaos 2: Redemption is a rather gorgeous looking MMORPG. Building upon what worked well for the original, it’s a substantial MMO that doesn’t push you into in-app purchases (although the option is always there). There’s a plethora of content to sink your teeth into. One thing to note very early on is that if, like me, you’re still lumbered with an iPhone 5, Order & Chaos 2: Redemption is going to seem a little creaky. A bit of stuttering and a little lag is a sharp reminder that the iPhone 5 isn’t as powerful as it once was. Given how fancy Order & Chaos 2: Redemption looks, that makes sense but it might infuriate after a time. It also made my iPhone impressively hot to the touch which was unusual. --Jennifer Allen
There’s never been a laid back twin-stick shooter, has there? They’re consistently frantic affairs, requiring you to have fantastic reflexes and to be able to keep an eye on many things at once. Devastator continues that trend by being impressively difficult but really rather well made, too. Those of us who are prone to throwing things when we screw up might feel a little despondent after a time, however. Learning Devastator is very simple. Your left side is used for changing direction while your right side affects the trajectory of the constantly firing weaponry. There’s a virtual button for activating a special attack too, something that you should only ever do when you’re in dire need. The button isn’t far from the right stick so it’s relatively easily activated. --Jennifer Allen
Bigger and better is precisely what you want from any sequel and that’s exactly what you’re getting from Puzzle Craft 2. It’s a little trickier than before but its potent mix of settlement developing and line drawing based match-3 ensures it’s compelling stuff for fans of well made freemium experiences. As before, your time is evenly split between your settlement and collecting resources. There’s a steady supply of missions to complete, in order to give you some structure in your development. It’s a reasonably cheery affair with cartoon style characters wandering around once you’ve hired them. --Jennifer Allen
Deeply entrenched in the traditional tower-defense genre, Alien Robot Monsters might not offer anything exceptionally original but it’s a solidly dependable entry to the popular genre. In a predictable twist, aliens are out to get us. To be fair to them, it’s our fault this time round. Humans have landed on an earth-like planet and it’s inhabited by a bunch of hostile robotic life forms keen to wipe out humanity. Fortunately, they pursue our bases by following deliberate lanes that happen to go alongside various tower placements. --Jennifer Allen
On the surface, Explore Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is immediately appealing and cute. It’s hard not to be cute when you’re dealing with cuddly looking tigers. While the app promises to be an open-ended and imaginative game, it’s actually a little restrictive. That won’t bother some children but the more adventurous user is going to wish that they could do more. It’s all based around the layout of a regular town street. You can visit the grocery store, music shop, bakery, and doctor’s office. Each place is quite cute. You can interact with certain objects too, such as ringing the cash register in the store or playing different musical instruments in the music shop. It’s a little basic because you can’t do too much here, but it’s a fun way to explore. --Jennifer Allen
Other 148Apps Network Sites
If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
No matter where we go in mobile gaming, there will always be a place for the undead.UNKILLED highlights this, and helps underscore the civic responsibility of ridding the world of zombies.Yes, it’s another zombie apocalypse trip, but this one puts the player in the professor’s seat as part of an elite team that takes the undead out. Completely, that is. If feels a bit like Dead Trigger, which isn’t too unexpected, given its pedigree. --Tre Lawrence
All this, plus news, game guides, and even more reviews than we can share here.
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.
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That's a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it's not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple's new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 - The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store's first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn't make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn't as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that "mobile" didn't have to equal "mediocre." Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 - Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple's digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean "an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms." And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store's most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers' minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples' free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
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!"
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."
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!
With the launch of the new iPad and its Retina Display, it may take some time for apps to catch up with the new high-resolution art requirements. Not for these ten apps, which have all been updated to support the new iPad's high-resolution screen.
ABC Player: Want to catch up on ABC shows, but don't want to lose out on resolution? Well, the ABC app now supports the new iPad Retina Display, which should make high-resolution video available from the app shine. It would even be possible, if ABC supports it, to stream 1080p, which is even higher resolution than what local ABC stations display at.
Pandora: How would a music app benefit from a higher-resolution display? Well, it might not, but choosing and discovering new artists and songs to play will look better than ever. As well, the LTE in the new iPad means higher-quality audio is easier to stream while on the go.
Pulse: This news aggregator recently added support for local content, but it got a second update this week adding support for the new iPad. Image previews for articles come through clearer than ever, and reading articles is even easier now with sharper text.
Evernote: The popular service for sharing notes, audio recordings, and pictures to the cloud supports the new iPad with its latest update. Now, all that shared content can be pulled down and viewed more crisply than ever. Well, besides the audio, the Retina Display won't change the sound. Apple can only do so much.
Readability: Don't lose any viewability when viewing the web through this app's easier reading experience. The 1.0.3 update introduces Retina Display support, making the title of the app continue to ring true.
iA Writer – One of the finer writing apps available for iPad, this crisp and clear writing app loses none of its visual fidelity on the new iPad. As a bonus, it now is universal for the iPhone and iPod touch, and still supports iCloud for syncing between devices as well as the Mac version of the software.
Tweetbot: Arguably the best third-party Twitter app available, Tapbots has updated the assets to make the iPad version of their client shine. The new update also brings live streaming of new tweets, but only over wifi, so no need to worry about wasting that LTE data plan.
Kindle: Still not giving in to the Apple ecosystem entirely? Well, good news: at least one third-party ebook service is supporting the new iPad, so Kindle books will read clearer than ever. Well, the text will be. The actual content may still be confusing.
BeoClock: Normal alarm clocks are just too low resolution to be any good any more. Wake up to a beautfiul alarm clock displayed by the iPad's Retina Display, and possibly everything in the world will be more beautiful. Or everything will pale in comparison to this alarm clock's beauty. Either way, it'll probably look really nice.
CalcBot: Tapbots' calculator app may just be the most beautiful calculator on earth, and with its new update, the new iPad can display it in full Retina Display glory. It makes the TI-89 look even more pathetic by comparison. Plus, the iPad doesn't have a built-in calculator app, so this really comes in handy!
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.
Happy Holidays! If you're like many folks, you'll have gotten a new iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch this holiday season. And if you're looking for a place to learn all about this new magical device in your life, you've come to the right place. 148Apps has tons of resources on using your new device and filling it with the best thing about it: apps.
Learning The Basics
The operating system of these devices is one of the most intuitive around. However, there's always more waiting under the hood to make things just that much easier or better on us. While your new iPhone or iPad may not come with a manual, you can download one fairly simply from the iBooks Store. First, grab [appinline:364709193,"iBooks"], then grab the manual for your new iPad, iPhone, or
Speaking of the operating system, we've written a few articles about the latest and greatest from Cupertino right here on 148Apps. Check out our Full Feature Roundup on iOS 5.
We even published some downloadable magazine-style User Guides last year, on each of the devices. Feel free to grab them and read through them - many of the tips and tricks included there are just as relevant today as they were then. iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
To the iCloud!!!
You may have seen some of the information about iCloud in the Apple TV commercials. It's a great system that gives you unprecedented storage and sharing options. Here's a short intro to iCloud from Apple.
We've got you covered with iCloud as well. Here's information on both moving your data to the iCloud to help keep things synced and backed up. You may also need more information on how you set up iCloud in a multiple user family. This details all the ins and outs of multiple user groups who may otherwise share iTunes accounts.
There Really is an App for That
Once you've got a good handle on using that sleek new iOS device, you'll of course want to dive in and start downloading apps. Whether you're an avid gamer, a music lover, a book reader or even (gasp) all three, you'll find everything you need in the iTunes Store.
When it comes to Apps, iOS has no peer. There are over 500,000 apps in the App Store, so you'll doubtlessly find something you like. The trick, however, is filtering through all of those apps to find the specific things you want. That can be tricky, but luckily there are many ways to help.
First off are our very own reviews. We review a ton of apps weekly to give you the best recommendations about the best apps we find. Be sure to look through our Reviews lists, which can be filtered by type of app as well as sorted by date, app name, or app rating. If you just want to read reviews of our highest rated iPad games, for example, it's an easy click. And for on the go browsing of 148Apps reviews, grab the [appinline: 444792529,"148Apps App"].
In addition, we have our famous Price Drops lists, which can be sorted to just show the latest drops in prices, or even just the latest FREE apps. Very handy, if we say so ourselves. If you're looking for the very latest additions to the App Store, we have a list for that, as well as one for the Top Apps across all the App Store categories for each device. Then of course there's always the very best of the best in free apps available in the free games and free apps lists.
If you want even more app discovering goodness, you might want to check out a few apps made to help you wade through the App Store. Some of our favorites are [appinline:387037496,"AppShopper"], [appinline:348286549,"Chomp"], and [appinline: 383151779,"AppZapp"]. There are even specific apps to help you find the latest free apps. Some of the best include [appinline:348650932,"Free App A Day"], [appinline: 470693788,"Apps Gone Free"], and [appinline:484505841, "Free App Alliance"]. These will all help you sort and find and browse apps and games to your heart's content; we use them all the time to find new great apps to use and write about on the site.
Where Else To Find 148Apps?
We're everywhere, really. However, the best places to find us are on Twitter, Facebook, and now even Google+. Be sure to come visit and chat with us there. We're ever so responsive.
Free Apps You Shouldn't Do Without
Now, we wouldn't be the premier Apps review site without some sort of parting gift, now would we? How about some apps you really should try out? To make the deal even sweeter, let's make them free apps.
iBooks, Nook, & Kindle - Reading ebooks is all the rage these days, especially on these fancy new iOS devices. We love reading on our iPad, and have even been known to crack a virtual spine or two on our iPhone while waiting at the doctor's office. For those of you with shorter attention spans, there's always Newsstand, iOS's magazine subscription service. Some of the best ereader apps include [appinline:364709193,"iBooks"], [appinline:384910586,"Nook for iPhone"], [appinline:373582546,"Nook for iPad"], and [appinline:302584613,"Kindle"]. Happy reading!
Facebook, Twitter, & Instant Messaging - Keep in touch with family, friends, and us - your favorite Apps website - with these free social networking apps. Tell 'em 148Apps sent you!
There's [appinline:284882215], [appinline:333903271] though [appinline: 428851691,"Tweetbot"] is much better, though not free like the official Twitter app.
For instant messaging, check out [appinline:336435697,"imo"] and [appinline:405179691,"imo for iPad"]. And don't forget [appinline: 304878510,"Skype"] and [appinline: 442012681,"Skype for iPad"]. We've become big fans of [appinline: 392796698 ,"GroupMe"] lately too for group communication.
Gaming on the Cheap - Now, we put out a sweet weekly article that tells you about the latest FREE gaming apps, but here are a few we think you won't want to miss. We could go on for hours about it, really, but these should get you off to a good start.
For a great free endless runner, check out [appinline:420009108,"Temple Run"]. A wonderful game. For some great physics puzzle fun, the new king is [appinline:467810884,"Where's My Water? Free"] and you can never go wrong with the classic [appinline:409807569,"Angry Birds Free"]. A couple other free games we really like include [appinline:466965151,"The Sims Freeplay"] and [appinline:422667065,"TinyTower"].
You should also check out our massive iOS game and app sale post. There are tons of great deals and quite a few temporarily free apps there. Be sure to grab the great [appinline: 457446957,"Jetpack Joyride"] while it's free. It's one of our favorite games of the year.
We hope you've enjoyed learning about your new magical iOS devices. The iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are some of the best new gadgets to give or receive. Be sure to come back often to see what we have for you; we're always looking to find the news or apps you want to know about first. From all of us here to all of you out there, Happy Holidays!!!
This week at 148Apps.com, site founder Jeff Scott welcomed the Kindle Fire into the tablet fold with an overview of his impressions of the device. Scott says, "...while the Kindle Fire is around 40 percent the cost of a base level iPad, it’s capabilities are even less. It just so happens that those capabilities match up well with what a typical consumer uses a tablet device for. Because of that, the Kindle Fire will be a strong competitive device to the iPad. When it comes down to it, it’s the cost that matters to a very large portion of the buying public, not the capabilities."
Meanwhile, our sister site, GiggleApps, took a closer look at a new educational app for children, iLuv Drawing Animals. Reviewer Amy Solomon writes, "iLuv Drawing Animals is a nice choice for kids who are interested in learning the very basics of drawing cartoony animals that are cute and relatively easy to draw. I like how these illustrations are broken down into smaller shapes that kids will easily understand and have had experience with, and the narration is pleasant and easy to follow."
Finally, on AndroidRundown, Carter Dotson announced the public availability of Google Music, an interesting development for all music lovers, no matter the device. Dotson writes, "Most importantly, this means that Google is now in the business of one of the big pillars of media, and it addresses a gaping hole in the Android Market. With videos and books already addressed, now the store is complete with music to go along with apps. Google is directly putting themselves in competition with iTunes, and they are making their operating system much closer in terms of features to iOS devices. This was a necessary move for Google."
As we head into the week of Thanksgiving here in the US, remember that you can still enter to win an iPhone 4S, courtesy of 148Apps and Gameloft. To enter, just become a 148Apps and Gameloft Facebook fan – www.facebook.com/gameloft and www.facebook.com/148apps.
Or you can follow both of us on Twitter as well at www.twitter.com/148apps and www.twitter.com/gameloft. Then, write the following public tweet: “Upgrade to a 4S yet? Follow @Gameloft & @148Apps & RT for a chance to win an iPhone 4S! Gameloft gaming on the 4S: http://glft.co/uIR3Y1″
See you next week, true believers! Start thawing that turkey!
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.
Worried about losing those eBooks from the iPad, due to Apple's insistence on a 30% cut from all items sold as in-app purchases? Well, fear no longer, as all four big eBook apps have it covered, according to John Biggs at TechCrunch. NOOK, Kindle, Kobo and Google Reader have all been updated this past weekend to remove in-app sales buttons. This allows the booksellers to avoid paying Apple the 30% commission, and may or may not confuse readers who use the apps to buy eBooks.
NOOK: "You can read any NOOK Book you have purchased on this updated NOOK for iPhone app, however the Shop link has been removed so to buy NOOK Books from your iPhone, open your Safari browser and go to nookbooks.com. "
Kindle: "This update removes the Kindle Store button from the app."
Kobo: "We have removed the Kobo Store from within the application. You can continue to shop at our website."
Google Reader: No app store description, but the sales links are gone from the app.
In a nutshell, all this means is that folks who relied on buying books via the in-app purchase option in these eBook apps will now need to either use their dedicated device to purchase books, or head to their favorite web site to buy. Not too horrible, right? Time will tell, of course.
We did, however, note that NOOK for iPad is not yet updated in the app store, leaving only NOOK Kids in the Apple tablet space, until a promised update occurs soon, according to a Barnes and Noble press release sent out yesterday. The update will also include "access" to over 175 periodicals, bringing the app into parity with the dedicated NOOK Color reading device. Kobo, Kindle, and Google Books continue to be found in the iPad section of the App Store.
Dedicated devices like the Kindle remain popular among book lovers—but did you know that you can get your eBook fix on your iPhone or iPod, too? There are a ton of great apps out there, most of them free, which put all that eReading power right at your fingertips.
Which one to use, however? In this roundup, we take a look at some of the top eReader contenders on the App Store. Scroll to the bottom to see which app we like best! Please note that this roundup focuses on the iPhone and iPod, not the iPad, though many of these apps are universal.
Kindle Amazon's Kindle app has a lot going for it. First and foremost is the Kindle Store, which is probably the most robust of all eBook stores and has relatively good prices. Kindle owners should be happy to know that you can transfer any Kindle eBooks attached to your account straight to your iPhone with this app! Reading ebooks in the Kindle app is also a breeze—the app's interface is clean and simple, with some customizability and quick response times. I particularly like the free sample chapters. Keep in mind that Kindle books have their own DRM, so you can't transfer them to other eReaders.
Stanza Stanza was arguably the first successful eReader in the App Store, and it remains a contender. Stanza allows you to import your own eBooks from a variety of formats and offers the most customization options out of all the eReaders. (It was the App Store pioneer of the reversed black-screen-white-text option, which is beloved by those reading at night.) Additionally, Stanza makes it easy to access Project Gutenberg's archives of free classics as well as integrating with a number of partner stores. Alas, Stanza lacks the coherency of the Kindle or Nook book stores (and their lower prices!). But if you want total control over your eBook library, Stanza remains the way to go. Note that Amazon now owns Stanza, giving them two strong contenders in the eReader ring!
NOOK Formerly the B&N eReader, Barnes and Nobles' NOOK eBook app is similar to the Kindle app in that it comes tied to B&N's preexisting eBook store. So, if you own a NOOK, you can access your full B&N library from your iPhone. Barnes and Nobles' store seems to be somewhat smaller than Amazon's Kindle store, but still boasts an impressive selection and low prices. The iPhone app itself is gorgeous, featuring colorful book covers and the usual bevy of customization options for the reader. The reader responds snappily. One unique feature to Barnes and Nobles' eBook approach is the "LendMe" feature, which lets you share books with other users. Nice!
Kobo Kobo is relatively new, and focuses on new and best-selling books. The glossy interface focuses on being pretty, but there's a fair amount of functionality here, too. The store section of the app works wonderfully, with a number of handy categories. One new book is offered as a free download each week, and the prices are fair. Unfortunately, some trouble comes with the reader aspect. While the interface mostly stays out of your way and feels quite natural, it also suffers from the occasional crash. Ah, well; Kobo remains a nice contender, and it does support Instapaper integration.
iBooks You'd think that Apple's own pet bookstore would have shown up earlier, right? Unfortunately, the iBookstore leaves much to be desired in terms of both pricing and selection—I don't think it's comparable to Barnes and Nobles' selection yet, let alone Amazon's massive Kindle Store. Additionally, iBooks has a nasty habit of crashing right when you're getting to the exciting part. I complained about many of these issues last June, and yet many of the problems persist half a year later.
The Conclusion There are many strong contenders in the eBook space, and almost all of the popular apps are very, very good. If you own a Kindle or a NOOK, stick with the corresponding app. None of the eReader apps are sufficiently advanced to warrant giving up your existing library.
Otherwise, it's a much tougher decision. After careful deliberation, I favor Kindle for iPhone. The Kindle app works wonderfully, with few bugs and a consistent history of updates. Additionally, its massive Kindle Store provides more eBooks than you could ever read. It's a close race, but the Kindle app's confident competence makes it the winner in my book.
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.
As the year winds down and we look ahead to the next decade it's time for all those wonderful end-of-year lists we all get so excited about. Today we have some exciting news, as Apple has detailed all the top paid and free apps for the iPhone and iPad, as well as the top grossing apps on each platform. Here's the full rundown, for your edification.