Showdown: 5 iPad Reading Apps

Now that all the commercial e-book distributors have made their iPad apps available, it’s time for an overview of how each app performs, along with their pluses and minuses. So, here’s how I found each app to hold up.

Bye Bye USB Syncing: Is the iPad Bad for iPhone OS?

Users of Lexcycle’s terrific iPhone e-reader app Stanza (which was acquired by Amazon (s amzn) last year) are expressing their disappointment over a recent update that removes the ability to sync and share your book library over USB from the program. When pressed as to why exactly the feature had been removed, Lexcycle responded that it was at the request of Apple (s aapl).

Before I say anything else, it’s my duty to report that Apple is indeed acting within the scope of the agreement it has with developers in requesting the removal of this feature from apps. As of now, USB syncing is still a private API, which means developers shouldn’t technically be using it. To get around this, many have implemented the feature using the iPhone’s Digital Camera Image Management folder, but that also requires the use of private APIs. Read More about Bye Bye USB Syncing: Is the iPad Bad for iPhone OS?

Kindle Store Now Optimized for iPhone Viewing, Better App Integration

kindle1Amazon (s amzn) has been making moves left and right lately. Since the launch of the Kindle 2 in late February of this year, they’ve rolled out a number of interesting developments, including the release of the Kindle for iPhone app, the acquisition of popular e-book reader Stanza for the iPhone/iPod touch platform, and the recent release of the large-format Kindle DX. Today, they kept the hit train rolling with an update to their web-based Kindle Store that gives it a more iPhone-friendly formatting.

Now clicking “Get Books” in the Kindle iPhone app will take you to a shopping site nicely optimized for Mobile Safari, so you don’t have to squint and swipe around just to give Amazon your money. It definitely improves the user experience of book shopping, but I think that compared with some other iPhone-optimized site designs based on similar concepts (i.e., deviantArt‘s mobile site), they could still make further improvements to make the experience even more pleasant. Why not take a cue from the company you just acquired and build an integrated catalog browser into your app? Stanza will probably be keen to help you out, now that you own them. Read More about Kindle Store Now Optimized for iPhone Viewing, Better App Integration

Weekly App Store Picks: May 2, 2009


Who’s that knockin’ at your door? Why it’s none other than the freshest pickings from the App Store, joined by a smattering of Apple (s aapl) news.

Before we get stuck in to this week’s iPhone picks and recommendations from the App Store, let’s shift our focus for a moment and have a quick recap on what went down this week.

There’s so much to get through here, so let’s kick off by rewinding back to Monday where Apple launched a new iPhone OS 3.0 beta, sliding in a selection of new features including settings for push notification and audio scrubbing in the iPod app. Plus, David Appleyard took a look at iStat for iPhone. The $1.99 app is a useful tool for remotely monitoring your system performance and resources.

The very next day, Amazon swallowed up iPhone developer Lexcycle. A significant purchase indeed because Lexcycle is the brains behind Stanza, a wonderful — and absolutely free — eBook reader for the iPhone. Also on Tuesday, our own Clayton Lai continued his Jailbreak series, looking at how to jazz up the sedate iPhone lock screen.

Rumors abound as Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams has apparently, “talked to people at Apple.” Speculation has turned to the possibility of two new Apple products: an “iPhone Lite,” and apparently a “media pad.” The latter of which would essentially be an oversized iPod Touch.

The latest addition to TheAppleBlog’s journalistic lineup, Gavin Bowman, launched the App Store Roundtable article series. His first post brings several developers together to look at the growth of the App Store and the initial gold rush. And finally, Apple stealthily launched Live Chat support for MobileMe. (It’s still not going to convince me to move over from DropBox, though.)

And in other news, UK-based artist Jon Burgerman has teamed up with UsTwo, the app developers behind Steppin and MouthOff. The team are currently cooking up an iPhone music toy, titled Inkstrumentals, featuring a crowd of Burgerman’s odd and awesome characters.

Moving on to the picks, this week I’ve been looking at Pixel Contact, Wolfenstein 3D Lite, MusicNeon and Lilt Line. Read More about Weekly App Store Picks: May 2, 2009

Leading iPhone eBook Reader Stanza Acquired by Amazon


People who like to read books on their iPhones (including myself) will be pleased to hear that Amazon (s amzn) has grown tired of playing catch-up with Stanza on the platform and instead bought out the much smaller company behind the app, Lexcycle. The Stanza makers are reportedly “very excited” by the development, which is understandable considering the gobs of cash Amazon no doubt threw their way. I’d be jazzed, too.

While it looks like the Stanza devs will continue to work on the app under the Amazon banner, and they claim that no major changes to the app will result from the purchase, Amazon no doubt has big plans for the platform, which it will likely integrate with its existing iPhone app for Kindle titles. Hopefully they don’t just shut it down in favor of their own app, or rebrand it, because I think the Stanza name at this point has become a force to be reckoned with in the world of iPhone apps. Read More about Leading iPhone eBook Reader Stanza Acquired by Amazon

Random House Giving Away Books to Stanza Users

Stanza is easily the most popular book app available for the iPhone and iPod touch. Recently, it expanded its library even further, adding 40,000 new titles to its library, thanks to the acquisition of a license for eReader’s eBook format. Lexcycle’s Stanza now boasts over 100,000 book and magazine titles, and that number grows daily. Some are crediting the app with helping to turn the iPhone and iPod touch into formidable eBook readers, despite the relatively small screen. Lexcycle claims 500,000 Stanza users, downloading tens of thousands of books a day.
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Quick Bit: Stanza & eReader Become Friends

When it comes to eBook reading on the iPhone, Stanza is our app of choice. Best of all? It’s free.

With access to 10’s of thousands of books, it has a ridiculous selection of reading material and now that selection just got bigger. A lot bigger.

Fellow GigaOm site, jkOnTheRun, broke the news this morning about eBook mammoth, eReader now licensing their eBook technology for use on Stanza. This pushes Stanza’s selection of books up in the 100,000+ range.

With that sort of selection of books, you really should give Stanza a try.

Stanza vs. Classics: Maybe I Can Save You $3

I read a lot, and have been very impressed with Stanza for the iPhone as an ebook reader. Like many, however, the idea of Classics was appealing, and upon release I purchased the app.

So how does it compare to Stanza? Would I recommend it? The answers, in my opinion, are that it doesn’t, and I wouldn’t. Not now, anyway. 
Classics primarily touts two things: special book cover art and a pseudo real-book page-turning experience. But the former could be more hindrance than help when you’ve got a lot of volumes, and the latter’s novelty wears off quickly, though it seems to be the primary reason Classics has received a lot of praise. 


The books’ cover art, sitting on virtual “shelves”, are lovely. And since there are only 12 they present no problems scrolling through them. But if you get 50 or so on this thing it’s likely to be an awkward list. Too bad we don’t know how quickly we’ll get that many, since it’s not under our control. Currently it’s a dozen, and we have to wait for more. I believe content should be a lot higher priority than that. 
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