Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kindle app for BlackBerry -- a first look

The new Kindle app for BlackBerry devices is here, promising the same nifty Whispersync(tm) technology that iPhone users have enjoyed for a while now.  And the best part is, it's free.

I installed the app today on my BlackBerry Bold and gave it a test drive. 

The first time you run the app it asks you to sign in to your Amazon account.  Within seconds it pulled up my Kindle archive, showing me the list of all the books I've ever purchased or downloaded from the Kindle store.

When you highlight a book and then select it by clicking the trackball it immediately starts downloading to your device.  I tested a couple of books, both relatively large (one of which was The Complete Works of Shakespeare), and the download only took a few seconds.

Once you've nabbed the books they show up in the "Home" folder in the app, and all you do is click to read.  You can turn the "pages" by clicking the spacebar or scrolling with the trackball.  So far I'm liking the spacebar method the best.  And as with the Kindle you can change the font size to suit you.

The Whispersync worked well on both the books I tested, taking me right to where I had left off reading them on my Kindle.

Amazon has labeled the app a beta for now, but at first glance it appears pretty solid. 

I certainly can't see spending a whole lot of time reading on the BlackBerry, but this app will be a lifesaver for those times when I'm stuck in line at the bank or grocery store without my Kindle. 

Kindle owners should grab this app right away.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Too Little, Too Late

The iPad isn't even available yet but I've already decided it's time to ditch my Kindle and switch to the Apple platform. Why? In short, I'm disgusted with Amazon's glacial pace of Kindle innovation. The device's functionality is pretty much the same as it was when it launched more than 2 years ago.

Anytime I've suggested Amazon open their platform up to third-party developers, just like Apple's done with the iPhone App Store, most folks questioned the idea. They asked what kind of cool apps could really be developed for an ereader. These are probably the same people who figured all a cell phone needs to do is make and answer calls.

Amazon recently announced their upcoming Kindle Development Kit "for active content." It's about time. Seriously, why did they wait this long? The timing came across as a desperate attempt to divert attention from Apple's iPad announcement.

Regarding the question of what sort of apps could be build for the Kindle, check out this post by Jared Newman entitled 8 Amazon Kindle Apps We Hope to See. (FWIW, I've been pleading for Twitter integration on the Kindle for a long, long time...)

Although Jared offers some great ideas, I've totally lost what little Kindle enthusiasm I still had. Call it iPad envy. As a result, I'm ready to wind down Kindleville. To be honest, I haven't invested much time in it for the past year anyway. Paul Higginbotham has done a nice job keeping Kindleville afloat. If you'd like to join Paul to keep Kindleville around, just let me know. Otherwise, keep an eye out for what I hope to do next on the iPad platform...