Kindle for iPhone

The e-Reader Wars – Kindle for iPhone

My wife has been using the Kindle app on her iPhone for a while, but I hadn’t had a chance to play around with it much. I had to reinstall it thanks to my 1-year-old loving those cute little x marks on the screen. He deletes apps on a regular basis. Interestingly he is actually able to work some of the apps, but that is another topic for another blog. Back to the Kindle.

When I first learned of the Kindle, its main selling point was the e-Ink. e-Ink is what makes the Kindle read like a book rather than a computer screen. It is a remarkable feature, and after a couple of years it is still pretty cool.

When I heard that Amazon released a Kindle iPhone app I had two thoughts:
1.) Duh – no surprise here.
2.) How will the Kindle experience change when e-Ink is unavailable?

Starting the app you are taken either to the home screen or the last page you were on when you closed the app. You have a choice to Get Books, go to an active book, or see your archived books. I went into the active book I was looking at earlier tonight, something from Charles Dickens. At first glance the book is easy enough to read. The font is fairly large, and the standard iPhone landscape/portrait mode is present. I typically read things in portrait mode, so I turned it upright again after my brief test.

By pressing down on a word for a second or two the word highlights and gives you an option to note or highlight it. You can expand your selection by dragging your finger along more words. You can also use the pressing down function to operate a small magnifying glass effect. Not sure why I would need it, unless perhaps I was reading a graphic or chart.

Tapping the screen brings up the menu. You can choose to go back home, increase/decrease font size, go to the furthest point read, dog-ear a page, or browse through various screens like the table of contents or the book cover. Another available feature is the ability to change the text color from black to white to sepia. Black and sepia are against a white background, while white is against a black background. This feature makes the app more closely resemble the Kindle hardware. I found it easiest to read the white text on the black background. This is the closest the iPhone comes to e-Ink. The ambient light is reduced, and the only light my eyes focus on is the white text.

All in all, not a bad experience. I was able to read the book in relative comfort. I don’t know how often I would try reading a book on such a small screen, but my test had a secondary purpose. I wanted to get an idea of how the iPad would behave. Assuming the app works in a similar manner, I can see myself sitting down to read a book on an iPad. Score 1 for Apple here. Anyone that knows me knows how hard that was to say. My wife thinks the screen is way too small to read, so I suppose the experience is pretty subjective. While I may prefer e-Ink, I think I could be happy enough using an iPad for reading books. In small doses, the iPhone was pretty decent as well.

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  • Kati

    WAY too small of a screen to read books on all the time. I’ve actually read several books, and always wound up with massive headaches….even though you can adjust the size of the font, it’s just not the same as a physical book. IMO.

  • David

    I think of think of this as a “need to” not a “want to”.

  • Jared

    David –
    “need to” as in need to read from the iPhone because that is all that may be available?

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