Read any tech blog out there and you will surely find a story about the new Kindle App for the iPhone. I’ve been wanting a Kindle for a while now but the price is a bit steep for the amount of reading that I do. My wife on the other hand goes through books like no other so I’m thinking that eventually we’ll pick on up for her. But in the mean time, the app is free so let’s give it a whirl and see what it is like for a non-Kindle owner.
If you are new to the e-book arena, the app is pretty sparse. Sure you can log in and you can get what is basically an empty repository of all of your books. I have to say, Amazon is dropping the ball big time here. I’m sure that the app is great for reading books. But how the heck do I buy one? There is no store front to the application. If you want to buy an app, you have to go to Safari. Maybe they didn’t get the memo, but the way that you make money on this FREE application is to SELL BOOKS!!! Sure, Safari is on the phone and I can surely buy through there. But there is even a “Get Books” button in the application that takes you to a page that tells you use safari. There is a link on that page that states use “Safari” that when clicked will take you to the Kindle Store. But man, why the extra step? Just take me over there if you can’t write a web service to help you search through books. Lame!
Stability: 5 Stars The application hasn’t bailed on me so far and I have been able to flip through some books with ease. The responsiveness and speed in which books are synced and downloaded from Amazon is impressive.
Stickiness: 3.5 stars I can’t say that I’m the biggest reader on the planet but when I have some free time to kill and I’m into a good book, its hard for me to put it down. On vacations, I’m a huge reader. In my everyday life, there aren’t too many times when there isn’t something else to do or a real book handy. So I just don’t see myself using this application multiple times a day . Sure, sitting in the doctors office waiting to go into an appointment or killing time while eating lunch I could see reading a bit. But the screen is rather small for reading a lot of text and I think that I would be flipping so much that it would become rather annoying after a while. But to kill 5-10 minutes now and then, yeah, I can see it.
Addictiveness: 3 Stars I think that if you like to read books, you’re not going to run out to install this app so you can read a ton of e-books on your iPhone. I think you either have the real book or you have a Kindle and you read books there. So I can easily see this app collecting dust after a few weeks. But if you happen to have some reference materials on your phone that you need at a moments notice, then you may use this application a lot more.
Support: 4.5 Stars Amazon appears to have gotten all of their ducks in a row as they have nice support site for the Kindle with a FAQ and User Guide in their help section I knocked them a half star as I didn’t see a place where I could get email or phone support for the Kindle app itself. I don’t think that this is a huge deal, but still worth a half star to me.
UI/Usability: 3 Stars Over all, the application is well layed out, easy to navigate, change fonts, and the syncing that it supposedly does between devices is brilliant from what I can tell. I had to ding the app major points on the lack of store. Come on Amazon, you’re really missing the boat on that one. There also seems to be some missing features on the iPhone version based on what people are saying. Newspapers, blogs, notes and annotations. I’m not sure how big the first two are with all the other applications for the iPhone that are out there. But being able to take notes and annotations while you’re reading would be nice to have depending on what you are reading.
Both of these are easily fixed with a software update. I just can’t believe that they didn’t have a store built into the app day one.
Value: 4 Stars If you have a Kindle, this may be a 5 star application. If you are like me and will only have reference books or maybe a short novel, I don’t think that this app will drastically change the way you read books. I just don’t think that you’ll pick up this application and read a 700 page novel on it. You’ll go a bit crazy with the small screen of the iPhone.
Total score: 23 of 30 Stars If you’re a Kindle owner, you’ll love this application for filling in those 5-10 minute gaps when you want to read a few pages of your latest book or have a reference manual at your fingertips. If you’re not a Kindle owner, I think that you’ll download a book or two on this…they’ll probably be the free books that I downloaded for the screen shots, but I highly doubt you’ll pound through a major novel on the iPhone.
CNet News First Look