Just as trees are grown for books, Amazon has slowly been growing an eco-system for reading books anywhere – the Kindle software. Now available or planned for eight different devices, Kindle plans to become far more than just hardware for eBook rendering. It wants to be a one-stop shop for all your book reading needs.
And with such clever features, it’s no doubt an important reason to buy into the closed Amazon environment. With any piece of Kindle software, you can view your entire eReading library. Forget your Kindle? Read the same purchased book on your phone. Spare moment at work? Whip open the PC program.
Aside from granting you access to all of your books, Whipsersync software will also automatically synchronise the last page you read , as well as any annotations. It’s like having your book on you no matter where you choose to read.
Despite standard Whispanet features, each platform has slight variations in what the program can do. We’ve ran through every piece of Amazon software, isolating the key features of each version
You’d expect the PC version to be the most fully-formed installation, but you’d be wrong. Feature-wise, it lets you create new highlights, notes, and bookmarks, and manage old ones. It also lets you search for words or phrases within the book you’re reading.
In terms of readability, it is one of only three versions with a multi-column reading mode, full screen functionality, and brightness adjustment. You can also alter the presentation, changing it from black-text-on-white to white text-on-black, or to a sepia option (a personal favourite). You’re also allowed to fiddle around with the amount of words per line.
Unfortunately, Kindle newspapers, magazines, and blogs are not currently available for Kindle for PC (or any other app). All those subscriptions can only be realised on the actual Kindle device.
The OSX installation (for Leopard and Snow Leopard only) is exactly the same as Windows. It’s almost an identical port, bar the change around in the menu due to the operating system’s layout.
The only option the iPhone loses over the computer versions is multi-column support. Otherwise, viewing annotations and adding notes and highlights are there, size, search and background colour are all present.
Far from being a stripped down experience, the iPhone app actually adds three killer features. The first is the ability to tap a word for a definition. The second is the automatic orientation adjustment, and the third is swipe to turn a page. Brilliant.
The Android version started out as a poor man’s iPhone app, but a recent update has put it above its Apple brother. There are two reasons for this. First, you can change brightness in-app, so it is much easier to adjust depending on your reading conditions.
The other iPhone-beating features is that you can search inside a book via text input or by voice, as well as look up the definition of words in Wikipedia.
The Blackberry version hasn’t received very favourable reviews, mainly due to the lack of touchscreen and small display. Still, you can create new highlights, notes, and bookmarks and manage those created on other systems, as well as change the font size between six different sizes and select a certain page or chapter to go to.
There’s also a whole host of shortcuts to make book navigation easier, though:
• Press ‘P’ or ‘shift’ + ‘space’ to go to the previous page.
• Press ‘B’ to add a bookmark to the current location (page).
• Press ‘F’ to toggle full screen reading mode on or off.
• Press ‘-‘ or ‘+’ to change font sizes.
Kindle for BlackBerry is available to U.S. customers only. It should install on your UK device, but the book store probably won’t work.
The iPad edition takes the best bits of the iPhone and adds customised background colors, font colors, and font size to help ease eyestrain. Then it takes the adjust screen brightness function from Android and puts it within the app.
Finally, it takes the multicolumn display from the computer system versions and makes it available when reading in landscape. It’s the most complete version and our top pick.
• They’ve even added a page turning animation to replicate the look of turning a page in a book, or you can use the default Basic Reading Mode for a simpler and unadorned reading experience.
BlackBerry Playbook Version
This app is as mysterious as the platform right now. We imagine it’ll be like the iPad’s version, however. Watch this space.