2 iPad Apps for the Avid Reader

It’s the 2010 Holiday Buying Season. Sooo, what’s hot on everyones list this year?

Digital picture frames?

Heck no! That’s so 2007!


Unless its last name is touch or nano, don’t bother.

How about a nice digital camera, one that takes movies too?

Puhl-ease! Most cell phones takes photos and HD movies just as good as any cheap digital camera. Besides, who’d want to carry something else around? (Duh!)

Well, what IS hot this year?

In a word:Tablets. You can’t spit without hitting a Kindle, Nook, or some knock-off or wannabe thereof. These tablets are special purposed, designed specifically for eReading. Now, however, tablets running Google’s Android OS that are capable of doing so much more are starting to appear. But the Big Daddy, the device that pretty much started everyone wanting a tablet in the first place, and is on most folks list, is Apple’s iPad.

Sure, the Kindle and Nook are better at displaying black on white text in bright sunlight, but that’s a one trick pony. Barnes & Noble understood that and recently released a new version of the petite Nook with a color LCD screen that can also play Angry Birds. Dell, HP and others are scurrying to bring something to market before the year is out.

It’s too little, too late for most vendors, at least for this year, but it will only take a short while for the competition to catch up to the iPad, with its thousands of apps that allow it to do and be almost anything. That the iPad can be different things to different people is the reason it is so popular.

During the course of a typical day on my iPad, I read and reply to email, comment on websites, read through several news feeds, play games that rival the quality of those on consoles, watch movies, pick up where I left off reading the latest book I’m into, chat with friends, write some ideas down for articles, look through photos, adjust my own photos, schedule appointments, and the list goes on. I could never do all that on any desktop computer because I move about too much, and I can’t get that close to a laptop because it I’d have to wait for it to turn on or wake up, and it insists on sticking a damned keyboard between us.

It’s true that I have to wipe the smudges off my iPad several times a day, but you know what? I don’t care about that. The screen gets gunked up because I use it. If you think about it, my iPad is likely cleaner than your laptop. How often do you wipe off that keyboard or trackpad?

I rest my case.

I’ve talked about some of the free media reader apps available for iOS devices before, and I’ll likely talk about some new ones later. These include news and magazine apps, as well as eBook readers. It seems these apps explode into the App Store like kids through a school door after the recess bell sounds. The more the merrier I always say. Each one offers something new, a different twist on what’s presented and how.

For instance CNN has taken its time to produce an iPad app. In fact, I wondered if they would even bother after taking so long. This week they finally took the wraps off, and the apps’ a good one.

CNN for iPad

What’s different about the CNN for iPad app is that each article can be a mix of media, some just straight up text, others include movies or photos, while others are entirely non-text media. There’s always an indication of what you are about to get into, and it’s interesting how all the different media types fit together to form a broader view of a particular story.

CNN for iPad

One of three views of your news

Another nice thing about the app is that it will cache content for perusing offline,and it will give you audio hourly updates to top stories. You’ll need an Internet connection to get the latest update, but it’s cached as well.

Navigation is touch-centric, letting you choose between three views, and, of course, there are interfaces for social apps like Facebook. In fact, the only thing this app doesn’t seem to have is a way to tweak it. I can’t, for instance, tell the app to update every half hour when I’m connected to WiFi. I can’t select categories of news that I’m interested in. I guess CNN believes we should be interested in all news. I should at least be able to prioritize types of news or flag articles for updates.

CNN for iPad

You can select U.S. or International news, but not much more.

As it is, however, the CNN for iPad app if a good first effort and is a worthy addition to any newshound’s app collection.

I mentioned Kindle and Nook earlier, these are devices dedicated to reading and they pretty much own the eBook market here in the U.S. There are associated apps available for both devices on the iPad, because the device is only part of the story. The apps give access to the exclusive stores available to each device. In fact, there are so many eBook readers, eBook stores, and apps available on the iPad that you’d wonder why anyone would bother creating another.

Kobo for iPad

Well, Kobo has bothered. They have a new ePaper based eReader device which it’s selling through WalMart for US$129.00. There’s an obligatory Kobo app as well, which is free for mobile iOS devices, and it’s actually pretty good.

Like other eBook apps Kobo for iPad lets you store your collection of virtual tomes in a library, and it lets you buy eBooks from its online store. While reading you can highlight text, get definitions, and bookmark your place, but what really sets Kobo apart from other eBook apps is its social aspect.

Kobo for iPad

Pick a bookmark style

Kobo believes reading should be a social activity, so there are extensive hooks to social tools like Facebook (of course). In fact, if you like a certain passage in a book you can highlight it and post it to Facebook without ever leaving the app.

But Kobo goes further. There’s a part of Kobo called Book Cover, which graphically displays your reading habits on a virtual book cover. The idea is to show people, at a glance, the kinds of stuff you read.

Personally, I’m not so sure I want everyone knowing my reading preferences. Reading is about as unsocial as any activity can get. Even if you meet to talk about what you’ve read, the act of reading is a private and personal experience. I think it should remain that way. But that’s me. You may feel differently about it.

Kobo for iPad

Good selection of book in the online store.

Kobo also gives you “awards” for accomplishing random goals as you might in a game. I’m not sure why the awards are there, reading is its own reward and I don’t need someone or something patting me on the back because of it. Anyway, you can also post your awards in the social tool of your preference. It’s good the app lets you choose to make you reading habits and awards public.

Kobo for iPad

Awards? We don’t need no stinkin’ awards!

Anyway, Kobo for iPad is a solid app that offers yet one more option for the avid reader.

And that’s a wrap for this this week. More freebies below with direct links.