No Kindle Required — iPhone App Review

iphone-kindleI’ve had my first generation Kindle for a year and a half and I drooled when the second generation Kindle came out. I drooled again when the Kindle DX was announced earlier this year.

I tried using my Kindle to replace my daily newspaper but found the experience wasn’t up to the task. I got use to reading my news online but the serial viewing on the Kindle left me feeling that I was missing something. I do use my Kindle for reading books and have purchased a few reference books that allow me to use the Kindle’s search feature. Typically Kindle books are cheaper than their print cousins and most cost $9.99, but I didn’t think I used it enough to justify another $350 gadget when what I had, served my purpose.

When Apple announced the new iPhone 3GS and 3.0 firmware, I heard about the Kindle application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I downloaded this free app and was impressed. It now feels like I have a new Kindle — on a device I already own.

When I installed the application on my iPod Touch and entered my Amazon account information, it showed me that I had a number of Archived Items. These were books that I had purchased and downloaded on my Kindle. I could then download a copy for reading on my iPod Touch. The cool thing was it opened up to the last page that I was reading on the Kindle. It turns out that this goes both ways. If I’m reading a book on the Touch and switch to my Kindle, it opens up to last page read on the Touch.

So how was the reading experience on the iPod Touch? Even though the screen is much smaller, I thought it was a great experience. The pages show up in portrait or landscape (depending on how you’re holding the device) and the menu and controls disappear after a few seconds. You navigate the pages by touching (or swiping) the screen. Touching the right side of the screen moves you forward and touching the left side moves you back. Page turns are very fast (faster than on the Kindle) and you access the menu by touching the center of the screen.  Bringing up the menu gives you access to changing the text size and color, setting/accessing bookmarks, and going back to the Home screen.  The Home screen allows you to select a new book, download one of your archived books, or search the Kindle store for another book.

One nice surprise came when I downloaded a photography book I had been reading on the Kindle. To save power the Kindle screen only shows shades of gray and the photography book was mainly text with a few photos thrown in. These photos showed up in color on my iPod Touch.

One of the best things (and a smart move by Amazon) is you don’t need to own a Kindle to read Kindle books on your iPhone/Touch. You can download the program for free from the iTunes Store and set up an Amazon account (if you ever ordered anything on Amazon.com, you already have an account). You can then download and review the first chapter of books from the Kindle store and purchase books right from the device.

I can’t say that having access to my Kindle books on my iPod Touch is going to keep me from getting a new Kindle someday because I’m find myself using my Kindle more these days. It’s a nice feeling knowing I can have my books with me even when I leave my Kindle at home. Like I said before, a very smart move Amazon!

73’s, Tom