We tried the iPhone version of Amazon’s free app and found the reading experience on its tiny screen just a bit too cramped for our taste. However, the iPad-optimised version makes great use of the larger screen area.
If you have purchased Kindle books in the past, you’ll have access to any of the publications already in your archives. If you need to buy books, Amazon oddly dumps you out of the Kindle app and into Safari, rather than let you buy books from within the app.
Once you’re ready to read, the Kindle app really shines. The main reading view is entirely unadorned, it’s just words. You turn pages with a short swipe, or a tap on the edge of the screen. If you tap elsewhere on the page, other interface options appear. You can add bookmarks, navigate to a specific location or the table of contents, or adjust the display. You can choose from five font sizes and three colour themes. You can also adjust brightness with a slider.
The app doesn’t get everything right on the display front, unfortunately. Unlike iBooks, you can’t control the font itself. Also, the text colour in sepia mode could do with being darker, but it’s similarly nonadjustable.
The iPad app supports what Amazon calls WhisperSync, which means that if you are reading a book on multiple devices (iPhone, iPad, Kindle) it always knows what page you’re on – if you’re online. Other unique features include adding notes and highlights to the text. Disappointingly, while Kindle devices (and iBooks) let you look up words in the dictionary, the app doesn’t.
Kindle for iPad excels because of its visual customisability and its overall simplicity. You can tweak the screen to your liking, and then simply read.