I love the feeling of a real book in my hands, so I never would have imagined Kindle’s iPhone app could be so compelling. It is surprisingly easy to get caught up in reading a book on my iPhone, and Amazon’s Kindle store has tons of books I actually care to read.
My first two purchases: Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail and David McFarland’s CSS: The Missing Manual.
The availability of titles is no doubt Kindle’s strong suit. The app itself, however, lacks some crucial features.
Here are 5 ways Amazon should improve the Kindle iPhone app if they want me to keep buying books:
- Let me browse the book store within the Kindle app. I want to search and buy books without launching Safari.
- Let me lock into landscape mode. You know when you’re lying on your side, perhaps in bed, and iPhone’s accelerometer forces the page into an orientation that is impractical to read? Safari has a solution to that: if you want to read in landscape orientation while you hold your iPhone vertically, simply hold it upside down. The Kindle app doesn’t offer this solution. (Update: My mistake. The app flashes a small lock at the corner of the screen whenever you change the orientation. Tap the lock to lock in your orientation.)
- Let me search. Especially for reference books, the lack of a search function in the Kindle iPhone app is extremely inconvenient. Search would tremendously improve the usability of the Kindle iPhone app.
- Let me copy & paste. Must I even explain? We begged for a copy & paste feature on the iPhone for 2 years! Why does the Kindle iPhone app still not have this feature?
- Improve synchronization. I bought the book, why can’t I view it on my computer, too? Amazon should give book buyers access to a database of purchased books (and their contents) on kindle.amazon.com.
Does Amazon purposely disable these features to make sure the Kindle iPhone app does not surpass the Kindle itself? It’s like the recording industry’s efforts to block their customers from downloading music so that they could keep selling them CDs in plastic jewel cases.
The iPhone presents a plethora of possibilities for Kindle. Imagine searching through endless titles to find information you need for a research paper. Imagine copying and pasting passages to quote them in your papers or share them with your friends. Imagine then having access to your books on your iPhone, your computer, and your Kindle.
Come on, Amazon, you have a chance to make the Kindle a real game changer. Let’s see some improvements to the Kindle iPhone app.