Monday, March 21, 2011

New Kindle app: Notepad for Kindle - finally! +NON-US reported.. Tip on type of text used. UPDATE5


See Update4 - Received a report today in the comments area that a NON-US download was doable, at least in the UK.  But, it may be explainable another way, alas.

This is the type of Kindle app I've been waiting for, a Kindle tool rather than yet another game (even if I enjoy some of those).

  Kindle apps are probably still not available outside of the U.S., but I've seen several articles that indicate the Android AppStore will likely be available before the end of March and maybe Amazon will extend availability of apps soon after, then.  We can hope.

Product Description
The 7 Dragons group created the Notepad for Kindle.
  With Notepad, you can write and edit text notes on the Kindle-3, Kindle-2, and Kindle DX models.  (The Kindle-1 model doesn't have direct user-access to the screen content.)

  They mention that you can write meeting notes, grocery reminders, jot down quick ideas, phone numbers and addresses, etc.  The sample screen images above give you an idea of what you can do.  The Search function should definitely be very useful.

When creating or viewing a note, you can chose between two font types and from six font sizes.
  "Your notes can be sorted by date or alphabetically by title.
   Notepad also allows you to search for text in real-time within the body and title of your notes.   Simply start typing in the word you are looking for, and Notepad instantly displays the notes that contain that word.  This allows you to find anything you may have previously written, without having to browse through notes individually."

The app was released yesterday and already has a review involving an Amazon Verified Purchase (not always the case, since some get review copies).  It's by Jose M Salas and is definitely helpful (to the extent I just bought the app), so I'll insert a copy here while bolding the item headings to make it easier to read in an already wordy blog article.
' Amazing! Fast,Simple and Easy to Use, March 17, 2011

I have been looking for a few ways to get my notes into the Kindle - since I have had it for about 8 months now - and this "meets" the needs that I had.

o Quick - it must be quick
-- Did I mention that it has to be "Quick"? -- and this is the fastest I've seen on the Kindle - I have about 500MB free (yup - I like books,magazines, etc.) and my kindle is sluggish - but this app works really fast.
-- Disclaimer - I've only put in about 50 notes (so far)
o Easy to use - this is SUPER easy
-- All the key mappings you need are displayed in an intuitive manner - Alt+X (Save and Exit - I really like this)
o Copy Notes to my PC and Vise Versa
-- The video shows that this can be done - I've yet to try it - but it's a simple copy / paste operation
o Font Sizes:
-- I am a fan of small fonts and this allows me to use small fonts - to be able to add more notes
o Search by Note Title
-- This works as advertised - quickly locate notes by title
o Search Notes by Body keyword
-- Again, works as advertised - quickly and painlessly
o Saves work in progress (for the "all thumbs folks" (like me)
-- I have a tendency to hit the home button - and this saves my "unsaved" note - so I can go back to it - sweeeeet!
o Simple, Clean UI: [User Interface]
-- This UI reminds me of the Old Palm Days (think Palm Notepad) - but on steroids - so nice to KISS

In a nutshell, this is worth $0.99 many times over,.... BUT only if you are looking for a Quick, Easy and Intuitive UI that allows you to enter notes on your Kindle. '

UPDATE - I contacted Abhi of 7 Dragons and found out a bit more and will include here some notes:
' If your Kindle is shown as D: drive on your computer, the path/folder where your notes are stored will be:

  . The "e0026" at the end of the long folder name is an easy way to find the right folder.
  . Fonts are not anti-aliased to preserve speed.
  . Changing font size changes everything - buttons, labels, help, everything.
  . There is a time/date stamp and you can sort by time or alphabetically.
  . There are lots of other small things:
      Press Home accidentally and a copy is saved with your changes.
      Progress bars for main page and for a note.
      Character count and "Page 1 of 2" for note.
      Backup in the app itself.

There are also some caveats:
  There's a size limit so the app can't be used for reading Gutenberg books.
  For simplicity purposes they had to remove extensions so everything is saved as ".txt" although ".txt" isn't shown.
  There are no folders.
  The focus on speed means they don't use anti-aliased fonts or pretty backgrounds. '

He mentioned there will be Kindle Notepad Help Videos and a Help Page that will include downloadable help files.

UPDATE2b - The HELP when you press the app's Menu button and then "Help" is voluminous.  I had originally used the 'Welcome' link in the default "All Notes" page and mistook the SHORTCUTS there for a help page.  No, the Help page is 12 pages long. (Menu >Help).

  These are some of the best Help notes I've seen on any app.  I also like that the bottom screen reminds readers that the Kindle number keys on the Kindle 3's are always available using the alt key with the top row and displays which top-row key it is to get any number.  Great way to remember the alternate way of getting numbers whenever you're using the Kindle 3.

The "About" page in the app (Menu >About) means that on your Kindle you'll have access to their website too.  Enter the website link in your experimental web browser:
 ( Home >Menu >Experimental >Web Browser ) and then, when you arrive at the website, Save that page as a Kindle web bookmark.
  When on your computer (but not on the Kindle) you will be able to view videos on their website.

UPDATE3 - (Original post, 3/17/11)
TIP: Because the fonts aren't "anti-aliased" - to keep speed - they won't be as smooth looking but I prefer the speed (typing and moving around are amazingly fast).  I found that instead of using the default font-size '3'  I use size '4'  which I actually like anyway, and the 'SansSerif' family of fonts.  That's done the usual Kindle way, via the "Aa" type/font key at the bottom of the Kindle.

UPDATE4 - 3/21/11.  An anonymous commenter wrote today that "Notepad is now available from Amazon in the UK I downloaded it yesterday."  I don't know if it applies to other countries yet (or whether the person did it as a resident of a non-US country or was a U.S. person downloading it while abroad, but it happened close to the date that the Android Apps Store is expected to open (Tuesday, 3/22) so it's a possibility they are working on it for the appstore opening.
  KinWorm reported in from the UK and was NOT able to find the file in the UK Kindlestore nor download the file from Amazon-US.

UPDATE5 - TIP: The program manager of Notepad has this note on the Amazon Kindle forum thread about Notepad:
' Last edited by the author 15 hours ago
A. Singh says:
Debi, sometimes the encoding used is different.

The KDK supports text files in ANSI format. If you open a text file in Notepad and click Save As you will see the options in the bottom right - UTF-8, Unicode, ANSI, etc.

So if the characters used are ones not supported by ANSI then the KDK (on which the app is built) can not recognize them and it cuts the notes.

Another Kindle owner had a similar problem where note was getting cut at '-' and when she removed that it went away. Notes that are made in Notepad on Computer and saved using ANSI format should open up fine.

**** In particular, the ` and the ... in that note might not be the standard ones.

So if you just open up your note on your computer and replace it with typed out ones using your keyboard it should work fine. '

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. Aaargh - this is so frustrating - I've been wanting a notepad like this since I got my kindle - and it's not on the UK store :-(. Do you know if there is anyway we can purchase direct from the developers?

  2. Jonathan,
    There's no way to buy outside the Kindle store.

    Hopefully apps will soon expand to Kindle owners outside the US.

  3. This is great news! It's particularly good as an indication that Amazon wants more such work-a-day apps.

    I watched the introductory video and Notepad seems to share a lot of ideas with a popular, multi-platform, open source text editor called Notational Velocity. The latter's auto-synching of text notes between Macs, PCs and with Simplenote on iPhones has many fans. It'd be great if Kindles running Notepad could join that happy throng. A note you edit on your Kindle would be auto-updated within seconds on your MacBook and vice versa.

    Even if Amazon restricted the updating to WiFi-only it'd be a marvelous feature. Amazon might even start a Kindle extras program that, for a monthly fee, would synch notes, shopping lists and the like through cellular from almost anywhere to all the Kindles sharing the same account.

    Now if we only had a Kindle 4 that's Bluetooth keyboard friendly. I've got a dandy little Apple Bluetooth keyboard that I'd love to find a use for. Keyboard cursor keys would make selection easier and keyboard shortcuts would make dictionary lookup and note taking easier. A full-sized keyboard would also make using a Kindle much easier for the elderly and those with disabilities.

  4. Jonathan,
    Abhi, who replied to you, is the Program Manager for Notepad's app team. Their site is at ...

  5. this is the next step towards turning Kindle into a full blown computer, something I (and hopefully most users) don't want to see.
    As more and more applications appear, there'll be more and more shouting for touch screens, backlighting, colour, etc. etc. so even more can be done to detract you from reading and into watching movies, playing games, etc., while making reading at the same time harder.

  6. Anonymous,
    Personally, I always like having a notebook/notepad on me and this one weighs no more and has a search capability. Reading tends to go along with ideas and sometimes some of us will want to jot some down.

    Why such a limited view? We aren't forced to use something like a notebook with ToDo lists we can make or even a Calendar. Who needs them? (But I like them.)

    The beauty is you can still just read and others can do a few extra things. The original Kindle already came with a free web-browser, slowwww as it was and is even today, relative to devices with LCD screens. And it even reads to you or plays mp3s. That's since 2007 but there's no need to use those features.

    Tablets (almost surely coming with Amazon too) are wholly different devices. There'd be no reason to get one in your case but others would have the option. Movies will be impossible on e-Ink so no need to worry there. E-Paper color e-readers may be coming (again, supplemental) but the colors are muted or subdued and I'm not sure there'd be that much interest. But it'll be fun to see what happens.

    It could be they'd make a tablet (different line) and you'd be tempted. If not, then it's easy to ignore, but they'll not be stopping production of a dedicated e-ink e-reader. It's too popular and relaxing.

    What's needed is self-discipline if distracting features are a problem. I have friends who never use any of the non-reading features and just read. Why not ?

    I haven't found reading any harder, unless you mean that the lure of videos and games would make it harder. Anyway, Kindle won't "turn into" anything. It'd be a separate type of product.

    I do understand loving that ereader just the way it is. But more and more people are finding out out great it is to read on one, so I'm not worried... Hope you're not as much either.

  7. my fear is that Amazon will eventually abandon Kindle for a Kindle branded tablet, based on the screams for such a thing which already come close to swamping out the voices that don't want it.
    Articles you write already point in that direction, with Kindle being presented as an oddity and merely an addon to a tablet (thus if you have a tablet that can do what Kindle does, Kindle can be scrapped).

    Once enough such articles get dumped on Amazon's marketing department, they'll conclude there's no market for an eInk device if they can provide a tablet with an eInk reader instead...

    Wouldn't be the first time quality was abandoned for hype, and the world ended up being a poorer place as a result.

  8. Anonymous,
    It's quite a fear because it was exacerbated by the availability of this excellent Notepad app ! Most people I know who have read books like to take notes, for book clubs, for themselves.

    The Kindle is an 'oddity' to many because it's gray and not in color and is dedicated to one main task.

    As I said in the several posts, that gray e-ink has proved to be the relaxing way to read and people I've met are really struck by how beautifully clear and easy it is to read after staring at LCD screens all the time.

    On forums everywhere people with iPads report buying the Kindle because it is just so much easier to read on, easier to carry about, and more personal.

    The reality is there will be more tablets sold than dedicated e-readers. But the important factor is that many who buy LCD devices often decide they want the e-Ink reader as well, after seeing it and noticing that eyes feel fatigue after prolonged reading on LCD, in serial fashion, in a novel. No eye-hopping as we do while browsing.

    If you read it again, there is a LOT that says what the tablet canNOT do that e-Ink devices do. You're skipping over those, maybe out of the fear you mention. Marketing will go by sales. Best if you encourage people you know to look at a Kindle if they like to read. Beyond that, there's not much we can do.

    Sorry, the NookColor and iPad and other tablets do have quality. They just have different features.

    And, that notepad is a super plus. Also, if you read the columns, people feared or hoped the Kindle would be dead by the end of last year. Instead it sold well. From what I can see, it still is. There's room for two types of devices just as there are with other electronics ! Hoping you'll see less cause for worry, but maybe that can't be...

  9. Notepad is now available from Amazon in the UK I downloaded it yesterday.

  10. Anonymous,
    That's GREAT! The Apps store is said to be opening Tuesday and I guess that has something to do with it. Thanks for letting us know.

  11. Hi Andrys,

    I live in the UK and so I was interested when you mentioned that I might be able to download the Notepad app but I have looked in the UK Kindle store to no avail under Notepad and 7 Dragons and other search terms.

    I have the link to the app in the US store but there is no (legal) way to purchase it. I even changed the URL to instead of com which normally works for books but no - there is nothing there.

    If there was I'd be delighted!

    Anyway just thought I'd let you know because I would say I'm a reliable source.

    I know some people do "work arounds" to get digital items in the US involving a fake US address, fake IP address etc and logging in to the US site but that's not me.

    Thanks for the Kindle News you share.

  12. Thanks, KinWorm,
    I've incorporated your experience also. If the other commenter found it in the UK store, or is a U.S. citizen traveling abroad, maybe we'll get a clarification later.
    They had the appstore-page open for a day or so prematurely and did remove that one when people reported it existed.

  13. Hi Andrys ,

    I live in the Netherlands ("Your Country or Region (What's this?) Europe") and I can't find/open the AppStore either .

    Fortunately , I *do* have access to the TEDBooks (I just bought 'Homo Evolutis' by Juan Enriquez & Steve Gullans) .

  14. Hi Andrys, thanks for covering this. Easily the best $0.99 I've spent this month.

    Six days from launch and it's already at #28 on the top 100. I think it will go to #1.

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. To "Unknown" aka andrea.eskin --
    I don't know what's going on, but in answer to your urgent need yesterday to talk to an app developer who has nothing to do with this blog, I wrote you to let you know I'd put you two in touch (although your Help section of the app tells you how to reach them).

    The app also has back-up instructions but it seems you didn't do one. The developer did try to reach you. I wrote you again this morning, in email, to make sure you have your file back, but you just tried to post the same comment as yesterday's as if I'd never responded to you so something is odd here.


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