The face of publishing is changing rapidly. With more E-Books published annually than traditional paper-based books, it is no wonder why E-Readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, are skyrocketing in popularity. Despite these E-Reader's small and compact size, they are not always as portable or convenient to use as your Android based smartphone. Enter the Amazon Kindle app for Android based phones.
The Amazon Kindle app is available as a free download in the Android Market. Simply press your search button, type in "Kindle," and install the app. Once installed, you will be able to connect the app with your Amazon account. Once connected, the Kindle app will sync with your Kindle library and will allow you to download any books you have purchased. Don't have an Amazon account or a Kindle? No problem. The Android app will allow you to set up an Amazon account and can serve as your Kindle reader.
When you first launch the Android Kindle app, you will be prompted to enter in your Amazon Kindle account information or to create a new account. Once synced, you will be able to download any Kindle books that you have saved on your Amazon membership page or begin browsing for books to purchase. Simply press your "Menu" button and select "Kindle Store" to begin browsing over 755,000 Kindle titles.
Highlights and Recent Updates
The Android Kindle app allows you to read Kindle books, customize the font size, animate page turning, and to add or delete bookmarks. Most importantly, the app introduced "Whispersync." Whispersync allows you to sync between your Kindle app and your Kindle reader. You can start reading a book on your Kindle and pick up exactly where you left off on your Android phone or start reading on your Android phone where you stopped on your Kindle device.
Amazon has also added features, including:
- Full text searching
- Locking screen orientation
- The ability to edit, delete and add notes and highlights
Since the original posting of this review, Amazon has announced that Kindle owners and Kindle Android app users can now share their purchased books with others. This matches its main competitor, the Nook by Barnes and Noble, who allowed book sharing from the launch day of the nook. Sharing books with Kindle is simple but does involve a few steps.
The first step is to make sure that the book is eligible for lending. Under the details of each book it will indicate if the publisher allows book lending. If so, click on the "Loan This Book" button which will take you to a short form to fill out. Enter in the email address of the person to whom you wish to loan the book, enter in your info and a personal message and press "Send Now." The borrower will have 7 days to accept the loan and 14 days to read the book. During that time, the book will be unavailable to you but will return to your archives either after 7 days (if the borrower doesn't accept) or after 14 days.
Readability and Usability
Though the screen sizes on Android Smartphones are certainly smaller than that of the Kindle, the ability to increase font sizes make reading easy on the eye. The Kindle interface is smooth and clear and the page turn animations do not seem to create much of a resource drain. Though you will find yourself flipping through pages much more quickly than when using a Kindle, you may find it beneficial to change your screen lockout time on your phone.
Highlighting and working with notes is simple. To highlight or to make a note, press and hold on a text area, and select an action from the sub-menu that will pop up. If you choose "Add Note," the Android keyboard will appear, allowing you to enter your note. To highlight, select "Highlight" from the sub-menu and use your finger to highlight the text area you wish. These edits are saved and synced to your Kindle device.
Full-text searching is a powerful and convenient feature that is also accessed by pressing and holding on the screen. When the sub-menu appears, choose "More" from the options. Select "Search" from the "More" menu, type in your word search and press the "Search" button. All instances of the word that you searched for will be highlighted in the text. Advance to each highlighted word by pressing the "Next" button.
Whispersync alone is worth four stars and when coupled with the editing and search functions, the Amazon Android Kindle app is a rock solid app. The upcoming features that should be included in future app updates, like a built in dictionary similar to the dictionary that comes with a Kindle, and the ability to zoom in on text and images, will, if done smoothly and without bugs, will bring this app to a full five-star rating.
The one existing challenge I have with the app is the weak store browsing interface. Though functional and easy to navigate, it lacks the details and richness that come with the Kindle store search feature. This, too, will most likely be addressed in upcoming versions.
All in all, if you have an Amazon Kindle and an Android based smartphone, the Kindle app is a must have. It's free, effective, and syncs so well using "Whispersync" that you really have to look hard to find any weaknesses.