Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kindle tip: Kindle for iOS - Major new update v4.0 for the Kindle reading app for Apple devices

Amazon announced last night the new, major update for the Kindle for iOS app, Version 4.0

' Initial post: Sep 18, 2013 9:50:16 AM PDT
David A. - Forum Moderator says:

Major Update Includes Brand-New Design & Collections! Kindle Version 4 is beautifully redesigned around the themes of deference, clarity and depth.  Collections give customers the ability to simply and easily organize their libraries.

What's New in V4?
* Collections: Easily categorize books, docs, and magazines with a few easy taps
* Flatter style controls create a sharp, new customer experience
* Translucency effects keep constant connection between customers and their content
* Slide-out menus in Library and Reader that combine key controls and glide to the touch
* Performance and Stability Improvements

If you have any questions or need help with this update, please post in our Kindle Help Forum: '

You can find the Amazon Kindle for iOS v4.0 update in the usual place:
the Apple ITunes store.

I read user reports this morning that the Collections feature works just as it does on their Kindle e-reader and that everything works well.

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. Big day in iOS land: iOS7 update became available, and Kindle for iOS v4.0.

    It looks like v4.0 is not available for some devices. My iPod Touch is not iOS7 compatible. It is odd since I found out about v4.0 by viewing updates that were available for my iPod Touch using its App Store app, and v4.0 appeared in the list of apps to update. But after downloading all of the updates, and checking the version of Kindle app, it is still 3.9.2.

    However v4.0 loaded on my iPad when I was still running iOS6 on there, so it must be a hardware dependency. Too bad for my iPod Touch. This may reflect the App Store's recent ability to deliver older apps to older devices. So in effect, I think my iPod Touch is stuck with 3.9.2 for the rest of its lifetime, which may not be very long: the battery seems to be dying. This may precipitate my getting a smartphone at some point as I'm not inclined to replace it with a newer iPod Touch ($300 and up).

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to the much needed iOS7 makeovers on the iPad. The Kindle app seems more or less the same, except for cosmetic changes and of course Collections (which I don't care about).

    A year ago, I would have said I will never buy Apple again (too expensive, too restrictive). Now I'm thinking of nothing else. What is wrong with me?

    1. Tom, sometimes walls are ok if the scene within is an attractive garden with lots of goodies.
      Word of mouth on the Kindle for iOS update is ultra good. Also, B&N has warned its Nook users today that their reading app for iOS may not be entirely compatible with iOS 7. So they are not looking ahead on a fairly important market area for themselves! while Amazon is. The new iPhone has a fantastic camera with lots of rather large improvements on an already excellent smartphone camera. I bought the Samsung Galaxy S2 almost two years ago when Amazon offered smart phones for $0.01 and a good 2-year plan. Am VERY happy with it but if I had none, I'd look at the new iPhone just for the sophisticated new capabilities they've put into the camera.

    2. So it seems App Store was a little wonky today. I was finally able to update the Kindle app to v4 on my iPod Touch. It's nice!

      And my iPad is now running iOS7. I like the improved navigation, access to frequently used settings, and lack of skeuomorphism.

      However when I tried to type this comment with mobile Safari, I had some problems keeping the keyboard input working, and Publish did not seem to work. So I believe we'll be seeing a 7.01 update soon.

      Yes, the new iPhone is suddenly of interest as well as the iPad mini HD or whatever it will be called.

    3. Glad it was just an initial glitch.

      I'm one who actually likes Apple's longtime leanings to skeuomorphism and reminders of the physical origin.

      How much would you be willing to pay for a retina iPad mini ?

    4. Good question. I would want 32GB, with the current model selling for $429. So I'm prepared to pay that. I think we can assume the original mini will still be in the lineup (they still sell iPad2!) at a somewhat reduced price, say $50 less than it is now. I'll probably pass on LTE option.

      Skeuomorphism had gotten to a rather absurd extreme at Apple. For example, their initial Podcast app for iPhone used a reel-to-reel tape recorder metaphor. This was less than a year ago, I believe. It needed to be stopped, and Jony Ive was just the man to do it. They may have gone a little too far with thin fonts and white backgrounds, but now that the brightness control is now only one swipe away...

    5. Tom,
      Interesting. With the current 16 GB model and low-resolution they charge $329, so my guess is the 32 GB model would be $499 at least (for both the high resolution and the add'l 16 GB, especially because it is lighter to use and better for books too.

      But since the original iPad was $500 and the remaining 16GB ones still are, I think for most this would be worth it. I'd rather have the lighter mini with 32GB than the 10" iPad at 16GB.

      I noticed late last night that many are missing the wooden bookshelves and leather bindings and I am retro enough that I would miss them too. It all gets so analytically 'clean' and then looking all the same, the way Android icons do too. But you get more on a screen, which is important for navigation.

    6. I would reference history: when the iPad3 (retina) came out, it had the same price points as the iPad2, for the same memory configurations. So that is why I think they'll keep it around $329/429/529 for 16/32/64 configurations. It will not be $500 for 32GB model, they already have plenty of profit built in at $429 (32GB SD cards are $20). But, we'll see.

    7. Tom, good point re the retina iPad3 not costing more when it was released.

  2. Just a few observations about the Collections feature. The implementation is different than on Kindle, and overall I think it is better.

    On Kindle you have to have the item on the Kindle to add it to a collection. And collections only show member items that are on the Kindle, not ones that are in cloud. With the iOS app you can add any item in your library, and view a complete list of the items in the collection even if none of them are on the device (check mark icon indicates it is on the device). So that's much more logical.

    However when viewing the collection you only get to see a cover thumbnail (no list view). Sometimes that is not enough to disambiguate, in some cases you might have to download the item and open it to figure out what it is. And there are the usual issues with displaying thumbnails for Personal Docs. Only a few of mine show up (same on Paperwhite). The Android app shows most if not all of them (when the item has a cover).

    You can manually sort the items in a Collection (book series etc), but that is the only sort option. No sort by title/author/recent.

    I like it that the Collections are restricted to their own view and do not get mixed into the other views (Books, Docs etc.). On Kindle I feel they just add clutter which is why I don't use them.

    One UI change I'm a little dubious about is that it takes three taps to get back to Library from reading mode instead of two. Also one used to be able to select a library view by tapping in the header (sometimes needing to scroll the heading. Now you have to tap to bring up a menu list and tap again to select the view. Seems a little more inefficient.

    1. They changed the way Collections show, with each new model, it seems. But I tried it out with the Kindle Touch when someone asked about it and found a few things about how it works with the latest KTouch, at least as of August. This is at the Comments section here.

      The summary there of what I described is this, which sounds sort of similar to what you describe, though your iPod touch may not show the trailing individual books after the list of Collections, which would be ideal:

      "In other words, when you choose "All Items" you are shown both the individual books AND the Collections. This is the thing that confuses most of us.

      So, if you don't want to see the Collections at all, just choose "Books" instead.

      But if you do want to view your Collections as well, you choose "All Items" and then use the sorting view at the right to Sort by Collections if that's what you want to see first [before individual books]."

      Someone at Teleread complained that the Collections viewing was a mixture of Cloud and Device, but that's something many of us had always wanted.

      However, re your mention that collections are shown only as a cover and no list format. There must be a title though? On the eReaders, all I see are my short titles, so it doesn't matter if the 34 Collections are cover or list in that case, for me. Am I misunderstanding there?

      Oh, maybe since the Collection is now usually in the Cloud, we need to see a listing (also) of the books in there. I'd agree!

      Thanks for the added insight. I don't own any Apple reading devices... Just an old audio iPod that has 160 gigs of music possible. It's not even Touch.

    2. No there is no title as such (just whatever you can make out on the cover thumbnail), unless the item has no cover image, in that case it will squish a couple of lines of text in for the title. It is a bit of a problem. I would mimic Paperwhite and have long tap show at least full title/author as well as buttons for 'Remove/Delete from device' and 'Add/Remove from collection' options as they have now. For extra credit, grab a short description from the product listing and show that too. Unfortunately on iOS they can't link to the product web page due to apple restrictions.

      And it would be nice if you could import the collections to Kindles or other app instances. As it is they cannot be re-used.

      BTW you can add specific subscription issues to Collections, which you can't do on KIndle.

    3. Tom,
      Good point re being unable to link the Kindle iOS app user to the Amazon store info.

      Considering the overall 'library' mode of our Manage Your Kindle page, I'd think Collections would need to be the same and I'm surprised they don't import the ones already made on an eInk Reader that the user might have (if they don't). So odd that they're done separately. But then different Kindle Teams work on tablets and ereaders. Wish they had a connecting team to keep the library management more consistent or re-usable.

      FInally, subscriptions to Collections rather than all lumped together in 'Periodicals' !

      Thanks again for all this info.

    4. When you initially open the Collections view in the iOS app, you see all of the Collections created with the Kindles on your account. But it is not clear how you would update this list if for example you add more Collections with one of the Kindles. Probably you could deregister the app and re-register it to achieve that.

      But even then, unfortunately, the collection you have on one Kindle is not the same collection as on another, even if they have the same name. It seems to be a serious implementation flaw. Perhaps with shared accounts you'd want that to be the case, but I think most people would want and expect the collection to be something you do to organize your library, not with the items you happen to have on a particular Kindle. The iOS Kindle app at least seems to assume this latter interpretation of what a collection is supposed to be, but I think it would be difficult for Amazon to change the existing Kindle functionality without surprising a lot of people. I suppose they could have an account setting that says 'collections are shared between devices' or some such.

    5. Tom, I like your suggestion re the account setting and that makes more sense than anything else.

      Since it seems the app for iOS can see the existing Kindle-device-created Collections but otherwise the iOS app can't create Collections seen by the physical Kindle devices, it's a bit like the mothership being able to deliver what it has but the child apps not being able to add to the mothership's records.

      My Collections on the DX, and my various smaller e-Ink Kindles models are the same, since I just import the current Collections structure (which hold a record of what books you've added to them). Once I import the structure the books downloaded after that are automatically in whatever collections I put them in, via another Kindle.

      You can't use them for the 'Archived Items' but if you download or import a Collection structure, it's the same (at least on all my devices).

      But, as you've pointed out, the new app for iOS uses a different concept (one which I prefer) but not being able to add to the existing structure with the app is bizarre.

      While the Kindle devices can share the same Collection structure (it's a choice, a structure or template you can download and use via importing) that's not the case with the iOS app. I find that pretty confusing.

  3. They keep making updates for the iOS apps, but the PC apps are sadly lagging behind. I teach at a school that uses Windows 7 or 8 (depending on the grade level) and the PC apps are really crappy. You can't highlight in different colors, can't tweet a highlight or a note, and searching notes and marks is nowhere on the horizon (but I guess that is true for the iOS apps too.) What gives?

    1. I wish I knew, Meg.
      Android recently had an update which I forgot to post. It wasn't a major one but I should get it up there for what it does do now.

      You're right that the PC ones seem fewer and far between. GIven that, I've been happy enough when using that app, and as far as tweeting highlights or notes or Facebooking them, I did that only for testing so personally have not missed them but they should have been there long ago for those who would like to share things that impress them from the books and Amazon, above all, loses out when they can't easily do that.

      I' even more like to see, though, this type of option for EMAIL in addition. We're more likely to send them to people who'd actually read them, but Amazon apparently sees a problem there or they'd have done it before.

    2. I think it is sort of a chicken and egg situation: Amazon devotes more resources to apps that get more usage (i.e. iOS, Android) and less to those that aren't used as much (desktop apps, Blackberry). The 'crappy' apps, predictably, don't get used as much, and improving them becomes a lower priority by default. Same is true for features which don't get used because they aren't (yet) very useable.

      Of course the reading apps are free, and Amazon is a for-profit enterprise. Adding and enhancing features costs money and that puts constraints on how much effort they can expend in addition to just 'keeping up with developments' (adding kf8 support, supporting new OS versions, for example). So improvement doesn't take place overnight.

    3. All true, Tom. Also, a 'free' app is not unlike a cable TV receiver. They're both 'free' but you pay the vendor via the content you buy with it and it's an important or even basic sales tool.

      Nevertheless, with no direct income expected from the reading app itself, there'll be limits to time spent, as you say.

  4. Hi, i made the blunder of installing ios7 without upgrading my Kindle app. Now my books are inaccessible! Pls advise the best way to correct this...


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