Reading in the Cloud – yet another e-reader
Just as I’d finished my survey of nine different e-reader apps for the iPad, here comes Amazon with another e-reader – the Kindle Cloud Reader.
Apple has recently been cracking down on iPhone and iPad apps selling content. Basically, Apple wants a 30% cut of any revenue made through in-app purchases, a figure so high as to wipe out all of the profits of companies who are retailing such content, such as e-book retailers. If they refuse to pay Apple that cut, Apple forces those retailers to remove, not only any mechanism for in-app purchases, not only any link to a web site where such purchases could be made, but even any mention of such a web site. Personally, I think this is totally unreasonable.
All of your Kindle purchases are visible in the Library view of the cloud-based app, and starting to read one of your books is as simple as touching its cover. The app downloads the whole book, it appears, and it is then available to read even when you are offline. Using it to read a book is almost identical to using the native app, with clean page turn animation (a simple slide). All of this is very impressive, is a great demonstration of the power of HTML5 and resolves most of the concerns I had about web-based readers. Impressive as it is, however, it does omit many of the better features of the native Kindle app such as search, dictionary look-up, annotations, and so on. I presume this is because there is currently no way to pick up an event when the user holds down their finger over a particular word.
Amazon is clearly sticking out its tongue at Apple here to demonstrate that Apple really can’t control the purchasing process.
But I really find myself wondering just who exactly the cloud-based app is designed for. Why would I, or anyone, use this version of the app rather than the native Kindle app on an iPad? Just so that we can have the joy of clicking on the Kindle Store button? It was never a great inconvenience to me to simply use Safari to go to the Amazon site and make my selection that way. As soon as Apple enforced its rules and Amazon removed the ‘Shop in the Kindle Store’ button, I created a bookmark to the Kindle Store on my home page. No big deal. I’d rather have the greater power of the native app, and I really hope Amazon don’t decide to remove it altogether.