Kindle 3 should be an iPhone app

Kindle 3 should be an iPhone app

Summary: Amazon today announced the new Kindle 2 ($259) ($359) the successor to its a purpose-built eBook reader. The update is thinner, lighter, has more storage, a better display, better button placement and will be available on 24 February 2009 according to Amazon.

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Carry your library in 10.2 ouncesAmazon today announced the new Kindle 2 ($259) ($359) the successor to its a purpose-built eBook reader. The update is thinner, lighter, has more storage, a better display, better button placement and will be available on 24 February 2009 according to Amazon.

Engadget has a posted a hands-on review with video of the K2 in action.

The new dictionary pop up (it brings up your definition on the bottom of the screen as you're scrolling through text) is a huge win.

Kindle 1 owners that place their Kindle 2 order by midnight PST on 10 February 2009 (tomorrow!) will receive "first priority" on the new device.

Instead of carrying around more proprietary hardware (with a black and white screen, no less) I can't help but think that the Kindle 3 will be an iPhone app. That's if Apple doesn't beat Amazon to it and add a books section on the iTunes Store. Apple already sells audio books, after all. And let's not forget about the competition from Google Books.

Kindle owners, are you upgrading?

Topics: Amazon, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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24 comments
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  • What about the screen?

    This is nonsense. What is special about the Kindle is the e-paper screen, which is much easier on the eyes, especially for prolonged reading, than any LCD. Only epaper gives you an experience similar to that of reading a paper book. Given its characteristics (slow refresh, only black and white, no retroillumination) epaper can only be implemented in a special-purpose ebook reader, not in a general purpose device like the iphone.
    alfie74
    • I envy people with young eyes

      I agree, there is no comparison. I spend all day looking at LCD monitors for work and for reading e-paper is the way to go. Teen-agers and twenty-somethings might be able to get away with long periods of reading off an iPhone (which I also own BTW, it's best at surfing the web and reading a few blogs on the go) but for most of the rest of us it's going to lead to headaches.

      That being said I think the digital book concept has a LOT of room for improvement. I won't be dropping money to upgrade to Kindle v2 but maybe v3.
      oncall
      • Don't forget power

        The kindle lasts much longer on a charge than any LCD device, thanks again to e-ink. E-ink screens only use power when there are changes to the page - for example, as you turn it.
        tikigawd
    • Exactly, the iPhone cannot compete with e-Ink

      It is no alternative to the Kindle or other competing e-readers.
      T1Oracle
    • retarded blog

      Absolutely. The point of an ebook reader is to give a reasonable sized page to minimize scrolling time (which an iPod/iPhone don't provide) which doesn't have the glare of a backlit LCD (which iPod/iPhones CAN'T provide) and thereby drain minimal amounts of power, so you can read it on the beach all day, or a long flight, or wherever - just like a real book (which iPod/iPhone definitely can't provide - half a day of constant backlight use and they're dead).

      Can't believe Mr O'Grady has made such a stupid assertion - unless of course he knows about some amazing revolution in liquid ink technology which will make color page-screens a reality and affordable additional feature to Apple's iPods/iPhones, the very idea that consumers would throw the baby out with the bathwater in this way is ridiculous. What is an ebook-reader's USP, if not the display?? Why not just install an ebook-reading app on a current iPod/iPhone? What is so desirable about the Kindle file format!?

      The answer is nothing - the author of this article has completely missed the point of a Kindle.
      bishofthedump
  • I agree with Alfie

    Personally, I am not interested in trying to read books on the iPhones dinky little screen. Light duty web browsing is one thing but book reading is different. I don't own a Kindle, but do see applications for devices like this, especially for students if schools implement ebooks. Reading on a device like the Kindle approximates reading on paper, an experience that not even large screen LCDs can match, much less the tiny screens on cell phones.
    itpro_z
  • RE: Kindle 3 should be an iPhone app

    I can't imagine that it won't be an iPhone app someday except for the (mis?)conception that exclusivity equates with higher revenue generation.

    Admittedly, I'm not crazy about reading on my iPhone although I've no compunction about listening to an audiobook on it.

    I use the Sony Reader - and love it - so, in better economic times, would probably opt for the Kindle 2 over an iPhone app. The iPhone screen isn't the best for my aging eyes, but I believe that most iPhone users will demand an Amazon-Apple collaboration sooner or later, and this might include me at some point.
    KuanShiYin
  • RE: Kindle 3 should be an iPhone app

    I regularly read books on my phone, a blackberry 8100 pearl via MobyReader, so the kindle service as a cell phone app makes perfect sense to me. If I can read books on a pearl it should be no problem reading them on an iphone. I definitely am not giving up the kinda money amazon is asking for this single purpose eyesore.
    User 13
  • The screen on the iPhone is ill-suited for what the Kindle does.

    Interesting idea, but the iPhone is not the best reading device.

    The big point of the Kindle and other e-book readers is the e-ink technology. It's easy to read in the sunlight (no glare), about the size of a standard book, and lasts a very long time on batteries: It uses no power when not changing pages, and the page stays on the screen even when the device is turned off.

    The iPhone, on the other hand, although it is certainly legible, is not suited for long term reading. The backlit LCD screen can glare in sunlight and the small size could easily lead to eyestrain. It's fine for occasional short term reading on the move, but poor for reading a novel over a long period of time.

    So [b]no,[/b] the third generation of the kindle should not be exclusively software. While I certainly would not be opposed to the idea of having the Kindle's software available on other devices, I believe that the Kindle hardware is every bit as important to the reading experience as the software, and should not be discontinued.

    "Instead of carrying around more proprietary hardware (with a black and white screen, no less)"

    The black and white screen is because the e-ink technology is not capable of color yet. It's a completely different technology than LCDs. E-ink allows for glare-free reading in sunlight and enormous energy savings due to the fact it uses no power when the display isn't changing. If you were to disconnect power completely from an e-ink display, it would hold the image.

    Color e-ink is certainly possible, but difficult to make high contrast. Each e-ink "dot" can switch between two colors, and in order to make more colors, you're going to need several dots close to each other.

    Problem is, e-ink can't use back lighting, and even if it did that would defeat the power savings it offers. In an LCD, the back light makes it additive, and you can just turn on all colors to create white, and you can create saturated colors simply by turning on the proper color. There's enough brightness in the back light of an LCD to fool the eye and make it work.

    E-ink can't do that. It has to rely on front lighting. It can't fool the eye as much with merging the colors as LCDs can. If you use color/white pixels, then the colors will seem faded and it will be more difficult to create a proper black. If you use color/black pixels, the colors will seem dark and it will be more difficult to create a proper white. You can't create saturated colors very well at all.

    So yeah, creating good color displays will be a difficult task with e-ink.

    The real benefit of e-ink is how easy it is to read anywhere, especially in sunlight that would normally glare LCDs. You don't have to worry about sunlight overwhelming the back light because there's no back light in an e-ink screen. The e-ink screen has total control over its reflections: The black absorbs all light, and the white reflects it. Plain, simple, and works like real ink on a page.
    CobraA1
    • Maybe not

      My Dell PDA is not a gee-whiz iPhone, but it has a screen about the same size. I read books on the PDA all the time. I am near-sighted and wear bi-focals, but I have no trouble reading the black text on the white screen. And I can adjust the font size if I want. My PDA makes a good e-book reader, and I think the iPhone could be also.
      brucegil9
  • no.

    it's the e-paper display that makes kindle usable.
    lostarchitect
  • One feature I'd like with the PDFs.

    I don't have a kindle, but from reading the description, it sounds like it tries to reformat PDFs into its own reading format. It warns that not all PDFs may format correctly.

    If that's the case, I'd like to see one feature added: Just display the PDF without trying to convert or reformat it!

    Most PDFs are designed to be printed/read anyways, so they usually don't need any modified formatting. If there's not already an option to just display PDFs as they were originally created, there should be.
    CobraA1
  • RE: Kindle 3 should be an iPhone app

    I can't imagine using an iPhone for any significant amounts of reading. The glare and brightness on the iPhone alone would cause serious eye strain. How many words would honestly fit on the screen. You'd be constantly scrolling through pages. One book would be the beginning of RSI.
    sovamatt
  • RE: Kindle 3 should be an iPhone app

    I think a Kindle iPhone App would be a great way for
    existing Kindle owners to be able to do some reading while
    they are in places where carrying a Kindle may not be as
    convenient as carrying their phone. Especially if you
    suddenly find yourself waiting somewhere.

    I think it could also be a great way for people to be
    introduced to the Kindle ecosystem. I know several people
    who would likely start by reading on their iPhone but then
    realize how nice it is to read this way and eventually
    purchase a Kindle for the bulk of their reading.

    Finally, it would also work for those who are willing to put
    up with reading on a small screen for long sessions
    because they can't afford or can't justify the purchase of
    the more expensive reader.

    I see only 2 potential downsides. One is if people try it on
    their phone and decide that eReading is a waste and not a
    good experience because of the small screen. But many of
    those same people already say that without ever having
    tried it at all. The other would be if Amazon is only making
    money off of the hardware and the margin is to thin on the
    books so that more book sales won't help them without
    the hardware sales to go with it. But since they are more of
    a bookseller and less of a consumer electronics company, I
    don't see them designing the system that way.
    Edword
  • Come to think of it...

    "Instead of carrying around more proprietary hardware ([u]with a black and white screen[/u], no less)"

    Sorta implies Jason's never even seen a Kindle in real life - it's hardly a huge disadvantage that it's black and white, and the word 'screen' kinda misses the point of how such displays work...
    bishofthedump
  • RE: Kindle 3 should be an iPhone app

    I don't think so. I do not want to read books on such a tiny screen. The Kindle replicates the size of a book, and the eInk is wonderful to read. Plus, the iPhone is a bigger waste of money than the Kindle.

    Those of us who truly love our Kindles don't want to see it regress to an iPhone app. Yes, the Kindle is another device to carry around, but it's worth it.

    And yes, I've had my Kindle 1 since Jan of last year, and I jumped in line for a Kindle 2. My wife is taking my Kindle 1. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have bought one.

    The only thing I really wanted for my Kindle was a color screen, and I'm still waiting. Once eInk technology keeps up and becomes less expensive, then the Kindle 4 (or whatever it will be) will rock!
    wcdaniels
  • RE: Kindle 3 should be an iPhone app

    I think this is the most ignorant thing I've read today, which is saying quite a lot in light of the political posturings.

    The Kindle and similar devices are about text that is highly readable for long sessions. Trying to use an iPhone or similar device like that would have your eyes bleeding. Yes, I know there are those who boast of reading novels from their Palm Pilots and such but there is ample good reason why such people are a small minority. Eyestrain matters. The technology to produce a display that does everything well is quite far off, at least a decade away.

    While Apple doesn't have books on iTunes yet, there are reader apps for the iPhone, with substantial libraries available for purchase. And they're just a bad joke if you really plan to do much reading.

    Go to the Baen Free Library and see how long you can stand to read novels on your computer screen. It seemed like a great idea at first to have some books on my laptop but after a few novels I found I value my vision too much to keep doing that.
    epobirs
    • Re: Baen free library

      This is the greatest "invention" yet!

      Give some books away and see how many people who download the books come back to buy other of their offerings.

      I came back and bought some of their books, but then I knew of Baen Books from the 1980's.

      As for reading on my computer screen, I use OpenOfficeOrg's writer utility and I've set the background of the text to an off-white tint, which is what everyone who uses a text or word processor should do to avoid eye strain when reading for long periods. Use your taste and get the shade that's right for you.

      Then set the page for the format you prefer. I use the 32kai page format because it most closely resembles the trade paperback size. The text I read is formatted in Palatino Linotype at size 11. But these are [i]my[/i] settings. They work for me. Other people may prefer other page sizes/font/font size combinations. Try things out until you find something you like.

      Whatever word processor you prefer, customize it. Just try different things until you find your comfort zone.

      And enjoy your books!

      bart001fr
  • RE: Kindle 3 should be an iPhone app

    Conversion is unavoidable. Too many PDFs were designed for display on a large color monitor. Not necessarily by intent but because the designer didn't think about it while working on their large color monitor. This makes for portions being completely illegible on the Kindle if they aren't converted.
    epobirs
  • I still can't put the Kindle in my pocket

    Kindle as an iPhone app makes a lot of sense. I just downloaded to my Dell PDA a (relatively) new book I have been wanting to read. My PDA uses a reader program that supports thousands of books. I can put my PDA in my pocket and carry it with me easily. When I can put the Kindle in my shirt or coat pocket, then I will think about it.
    brucegil9