Amazon Kindle for Android: Let the e-Reader Content Wars Begin

Amazon Kindle for Android: Let the e-Reader Content Wars Begin

Summary: Amazon Kindle for Android finally brings hundreds of thousands of books to the fastest growing smartphone platform.

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Amazon Kindle for Android finally brings hundreds of thousands of books to the fastest growing smartphone platform. (click on the photo above to view screenshot gallery)

Today, Amazon released its highly anticipated Kindle e-book reader software for Android devices, which gives Google's smartphone and MID operating system immediate legitimacy as an e-Reading platform.

But how well does the software stack up to the iPhone/iPad version? Surprisingly, quite well.

Also See: Kindle for Android 1.0 (Screenshot Gallery)

The Kindle for Android software, once downloaded from the Android Market, has a very similar look and feel to the iPad/iPhone version, with a cool blue home screen.

First-time users of the software will need to log in to an Amazon.com account, after which point the user's authorized content library is automatically synced to the device's "Archived Items" section.

If content has been purchased, the "Archived items" section will display the covers and titles of the books that have been previously purchased, and clicking on each title will sync the content directly to the device and then open that book for viewing.

Content is purchased with the same UI as the iPhone version, using an optimized mobile browser version of the Amazon Kindle store. I found it curious that this mobile optimized store was usable on iPhone and Android, but not on an iPad, which shows the full Amazon.com website.

I'd actually like to see the streamlined mobile browser view for the Kindle Store on an iPad, as there is less screen clutter and the controls for the store are easier to use.

As with the iPad/iPhone version, adjustment of the text options within Kindle for Android are limited, even though the software does support publisher-set fonts. Typefaces cannot be changed, but there are five different text sizes and three different text themes -- the usual black-on-white, inverted white-on-black, and sepia tone.

As with the iPhone/iPad version, margins cannot be adjusted, but as I was testing this on a smartphone, the text was fully justified with no margins in order to make full use of the screen real estate, which is the expected behavior for a small screen.

Book text is paged through exactly like the iPhone/iPad version, by swiping the screen left or right. Tapping the screen pulls up the location selector which allows you to jump forward or back to different sections of the book.

As with the iPad and iPhone version, rolling the device to a landscape view changes the text orientation automatically. I have not yet had the opportunity to test the software on a device other than a Motorola Droid, but as Android has built-in application scaling capability, I presume that different devices will have the ability to adjust the text and re-flow for larger (or smaller) screen resolutions.

Matthew Miller (who also has written a nice summary of the Kindle app for his readers) supplied me with a few shots of the Kindle application on his Sprint EVO 4G, but they look virtually identical to the Droid shots as both devices have the same native resolution even though the EVO (and the new Droid X) have larger physical screens,

This opens the possibility to the Kindle for Android software being used on full-size and mid-size tablet devices, such as the DELL Streak and other devices which are due in the fall of 2010, which should sell between $199-$299 and will compete aggressively with the Apple iPad as well as with dedicated e-Reader devices.

How well do Kindle books read using Android smartphone devices? Surprisingly, quite well, although I prefer to read them in landscape mode and with the second largest text size. This allows for easier page flipping and less eye-scanning of the content.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how Android for Kindle progresses as an application and how future devices will take advantage of it. Among the features promised for future versions of the app include in-book Search capability, an in-App native Kindle Store interface, a built-in Dictionary and the ability to zoom in on images.

Have you downloaded Kindle for Android yet? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Amazon, Hardware, Mobility

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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11 comments
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  • RE: Amazon Kindle for Android: Let the e-Reader Content Wars Begin

    Installed Amazon's Kindle for Android on my htc Incredible. It works great! Reading books on the Incredible's beautiful screen is fantastic. Swiping pages - effortless. Text flows without a problem in horizontal mode. Not much to say except that reading books on my Verizon supported htc incredible works.
    dna550
  • RE: Amazon Kindle for Android: Let the e-Reader Content Wars Begin

    I install app on my HTC incredible, I am sure there will be some nice Android tablets out soon this will work great as a reader on. How do you create content for the Kindle Format/App? I want to publish a work through Amazon/Kindle.
    kwickers10
  • Reading on a phone sucks...badly.

    I dont' care how big your phone screen is, reading on a phone sucks.
    tricktytom
  • Your title has nothing to do with your post

    Jason,
    I thought for a brief second you were beginning to understand the ebook market, but alas this is just another announcement of a kindle app for android. The real story as your title suggests that the race toward content dominance is heating up. I believe that amazon has the lead with the kindle platform and amazon.com. Time will tell.
    All in all this is good news for the kindle hardware as well. The stronger the market for ebooks the stronger the market for ebook readers (both software and hardware based) will be.
    jhuddle
  • RE: Amazon Kindle for Android: Let the e-Reader Content Wars Begin

    Does the Kindle Android app works on rooted B&N Nook (Android 1.5) ? That will be interesting !
    dorin1234
  • Looks Good, but ...

    check out the eReader from eReader.com. It already has more features than the Kindle app, including search, notes, google search, etc. in it.<br>The only thing it doesn't have that I like in the Kindle app is setting the background to different colors, you get black on white, or white on black (my preferred, easy on the eyes.)<br><br>Check it out:<br> <a href="http://mobile.ereader.com/mobile/softwarewizard/wizard_dl_android.htm" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://mobile.ereader.com/mobile/softwarewizard/wizard_dl_android.htm</a> (download from phone browser)<br><br>OH, and the books are cheaper than Amazon.

    edit: Almost forgot, you also get partial credit towards your next book with every one you buy - can usually find something free after purchasing 3.
    babyboomer57
  • Limits of content

    Ebooks need more that excellent readers.
    1. Every book needs to be available electronically. Most modern books are written and submitted electronically, so why are books published in 2010 only physical?
    2. I should be able to buy books from multiple stores. As a consumer of books I've bought them from B&N, Borders, independent stores, etc. Why do I have to have a separate device for Amazon, Apple, B&N, and soon Borders? Why can't I purchase from any store to my reader? When will I have the flexibility to buy from multiple vendors, publishers directly, and even authors, or an used ebook store.
    jcschweitzer
  • Kindle is an excellent platform...

    I am happy to see Kindle on Android, even though I do not use Android. I have Kindle on Blackberry, on my iPod Touch and an actual Kindle. The Whispersync between them is amazing. Always picks up right where left off on the other device. It is nice because sometimes I don't have the Kindle device with me, but have a few minutes to kill while waiting for an appointment. The blackberry works in a pinch although quite small...but since it isnt for long it is passable. The best part is that it is in sync when I go back to the kindle later on! Awesome tech. All the books being stored independent of the device is also excellent and keeps your from ever having to take and keep backups!
    condelirios
    • Agreed

      @condelirios - I agree. I used to own a Kindle but sold it to help finance an iPad. I now read my Kindle books on my iPad, iPod touch, and soon on my Android phone. No matter what device I'm on, all my books are there on the right page.
      Lady756
    • RE: Amazon Kindle for Android: Let the e-Reader Content Wars Begin

      @condelirios
      how did you get books from your phone to show on your Kindle?
      Melissa Mc
  • RE: Amazon Kindle for Android: Let the e-Reader Content Wars Begin

    Just downloaded my first Kindle book onto my Motorola Droid. App works great. Is there any way to backup the book onto my iMac computer?
    lparnes