I unabashedly love my Kindle and I’m gaga over my iPhone. Yes, I know neither is perfect. Improvements should be made. It doesn’t matter. Give me these two devices, an Internet connection and a source of electricity and you can take away all my other computers, gadgets and gizmos. I shall be content.*
So when Amazon followed up its release of the Kindle 2 (more on that soon) with its Kindle app for the iPhone, I felt like an adult in a cheese store. (Fellow cheeseaholics will understand.)
A major part of the Kindle’s appeal is Whispernet, the freebie wireless connection that lets you download a book at any hour of the day or grab the latest edition of a newspaper or magazine.
With the launch of Kindle 2 comes Whispersync. Whispersync lets you synchronise your content and reading across multiple devices. That sounded pretty good even when all it meant was you could sync two or more Kindles. But with Kindle for iPhone, Whispersync is transformed into something so much more.
Now, not only can you store your library on your Kindle(s) and your iPhone, you can also synchronise your reading across those devices.
Here’s what that means. You start reading A Brief History of Nearly Everything on your Kindle one night but fall asleep before you reach the end of chapter three. The next morning, you switch your Kindle’s wireless on for a minute so it can communicate with the Amazon mothership. You then head out with your trusty iPhone in your pocket and, when you find yourself stuck in a long line at the supermarket or waiting an hour for the doctor to see you, you whip out your iPhone, load up the Kindle app and, voila!, it opens to the exact spot where you fell asleep the night before. Instant reading gratification.
Ebooks for the Kindle-less
The Kindle app is not just for those of us blessed with Kindles. You can now buy any Kindle book from the Amazon store and read it on your iPhone, no Kindle required. Just like that, your iPhone reading choices have expanded by almost a quarter of a million.
The iPhone reading experience
Being of a certain age, I’m not sure I’d want my only reading device to be an iPhone. Although the text is crisp, flicking through mini-pages is not a particularly relaxing way to read. Still, the ability to resize the font makes reading on the small screen comfortable for short periods. And some things simply look better on the iPhone than they do on the Kindle, such as the library list. With its coloured book covers and much, much faster navigation, choosing a book from your library is a lot more satisfying on the iPhone than on the Kindle.
Like the Kindle and the iPhone, the Kindle app could do with some improvements. Amazon could take a few pointers from apps like Stanza and Classics about prettying up the formatting. It’d be nice to be able to add highlights and annotations and not just view them on the iPhone. It would also be handy to be able to buy Kindle books directly from the iPhone. You can’t do that – yet – nor can you do it using Amazon’s other iPhone app. It’s bound to come.
These are quibbles. This is a smooth little app that marries two great inventions.
* Okay, so perhaps I’m being a tad disingenuous.