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Amazon launches Kindle app for iPhone, iPod touch

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Wednesday, March 4, 2009
News Categories: Apps + Games

Amazon has released Kindle for iPhone, a new application that lets iPhone and iPod touch users read Kindle books directly on their devices. Kindle books may be purchased from a Mac, PC, or the iPhone using a browser and wirelessly transferred to the iPhone or iPod touch, and users may also download Kindle books they already own for free, adjust the text size, add bookmarks, and view annotations created on the Kindle.  In addition, the app includes Amazon’s new Whispersync technology that saves and synchronizes users’ bookmarks across their original Kindle, Kindle 2, iPhone and iPod touch devices, so they never lose their place.

Like the Kindle itself, the Kindle iPhone app is only available in the U.S. iTunes Store, and Kindle content is likewise only available to Amazon U.S. customers, differing from competing iPhone apps eReader and Stanza, which seem to have no country-based distribution restrictions on their apps or their content. Additionally, and unlike the Kindle devices, Kindle for iPhone currently works only with books, and not with other downloadable content such as magazines, newspapers, and blogs that are supported by the Kindle and Kindle 2. Kindle for iPhone is available now as a free download from the U.S. App Store; our full review is also available.

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Comments

1

I guess you can purchase books from your iPhone using Mobile Safari, but it doesn’t appear that you can purchase books (or get samples) directly via the Kindle for iPhone app. Seems kind of silly for Amazon to have imposed this inconvenience.

Posted by orgel in Falls Church, VA on March 4, 2009 at 7:35 AM (PDT)

2

My guess is that the reason you can’t buy books directly from the app is a restriction placed by Apple, but that’s just a guess.

What I don’t understand is why no support for periodicals? While reading books is great, the iPhone is perfect for reading magazines, newspapers, and blogs. Can anyone think of a possible explanation for that?

Posted by jasonact on March 4, 2009 at 8:56 AM (PDT)

3

You can purchase Kindle ebooks directly on the iPhone/iPod Touch using the free Amazon Mobile app, then download and read them via the Kindle app.  No need to muck about with Mobile Safari.

Posted by Roland Dobbins on March 4, 2009 at 9:01 AM (PDT)

4

That’s a good tip, Roand, but it doesn’t address why Amazon didn’t include the shopping/purchasing functionality in Kindle for iPhone. I’m just wondering whether it’s intentional (i.e., to point people in the direction of purchasing a Kindle) or just something they’re leaving for an update.

Posted by orgel in Falls Church, VA on March 4, 2009 at 9:33 AM (PDT)

5

I have now tried the app, and it is spectacular. You can toggle between reading the book on the Kindle or on the iPhone, and it keeps your place. Forgot to bring your Kindle to your doctor’s appointment? No problem. You have your iPhone with you.

If you ask (via your PC) to have a sample of a Kindle book sent to the iPhone (which you can now do), you can glance through the sample and then purchase the full book on your iPhone with one tap.

I suspect that additional features will be added eventually, but for a 1.0 version, Kindle for iPhone is amazing.

Posted by J.M. Stensvaag on March 4, 2009 at 10:15 AM (PDT)

6

Nearly every book title will have a free sample available.  Just click the “Send sample now” button, and the next time you open the Kindle for iPhone app, the sample will download in a few seconds.

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on March 4, 2009 at 11:23 AM (PDT)

7

So would this be a way that one could share a Kindle library with someone?  Meaning that if your friend has a Kindle but no iPhone and you an iPhone but no Kindle, could you “share” an account to “share” books as long as you log in the Kindle App to your friend’s Amazon account? 

I have no interest in a Kindle myself but thought about one for a gift for my mother and we sometimes read the same books…so her Kindle could possibly net me some free reading?  Hmm.

Posted by TosaDeac on March 4, 2009 at 11:25 AM (PDT)

8

@3: Amazon Mobile app doesn’t let you buy or sample Kindle books- I’ve tried and you get the following message: This mobile application does not currently support digital downloads.  Add this item to your Wish List and you can view and purchase it from your computer.

Posted by Dyvim on March 4, 2009 at 12:40 PM (PDT)

9

I have tried the app/bought a book and have read alot of reviews and the one thing that is missing is that once you purchase a kindle book, it can only be read on a kindle or through the kindle for iphone app and there is no desktop copy of the book to keep.  Unless amazon opens up the format to other readers or creates a desktop companion.  The kindle formatted book is just another instance of the mobipocket format problem.

Posted by delennn1 on March 4, 2009 at 4:17 PM (PDT)

10

Yet another reason why Amazon is a step ahead of the curve. Instead of locking people in to using the Kindle, they realize the potential is in the ebooks themselves, not the device they are read on, and have opened up the gates for more customers. I immediately downloaded the application and purchased two books. The app works wonderfully and the iPhone is surprisingly capable as an ebook device.

There is room for improvement, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that’s what there is great. The ability to download purchased books without repurchasing is also a nice addition.

Posted by Germansuplex on March 4, 2009 at 6:34 PM (PDT)

11

Love the new ipod touch/kindle app BUT how do you erase the tons of downloads that you start to collect? my ipod is gasping for space!

Posted by tony on March 5, 2009 at 9:50 AM (PDT)

12

“Ahead of the curve” as in Google is NOT a hardware company, and the Kindle is more like kindling.
I think the Kindle will die, and Googles is planning for that time.
Wise yes, ahead of the curve in the sense you’re talking about, not really.

Posted by slb on March 5, 2009 at 12:58 PM (PDT)

13

#11: For the iPod touch and iPhone in general, see this link:

http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/the-quick-guide-to-trimming-itunes-8s-applications-library/

For Kindle on iPhone, swipe your finger across any book in the library and then hit the delete button that appears.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 5, 2009 at 2:45 PM (PDT)

14

I been testing the Kindle and I love it. This has definitely taken away my urge to buy a Kindle, which might be bad for Amazon, but has nudged me to purchasing several digital books from Amazon, which is great for Amazon. Hence in a Ying-Yang kind of way it’s all good.

Though it is unfortunate that you cannot buy nor try digital books thru the app itself it doesn’t take away from being able to read a book anywhere or anytime without the use of a nightlight. I can only assume Amazon introduced this app to observe user reaction. If Amazon sees a market with this app I see them expanding the app to purchase and try books, add magazines and journals, and a lot more.

Some things to note:
When you first install this program you will need to input your Amazon login account (so if you don’t have one you need one). This registers your iPhone/ipod touch serial number to your account. If you own a Kindle I imagine it does the same thing. In your Amazon account, under Kindle, you will find a section for registered Kindles and a section for registered iPhone.  In the description for the Kindle iPhone App it states that books purchased for your kindle can also be viewed on your iPhone. So if you don’t mind sharing this information with another user, who technically would have access to your Amazon account information and/or credit card for purchase thru Amazon, then yes you would be able to “share” books purchased. What I have not confirmed is if you can share a book with two iPhones or if it is based only on sharing between a Kindle and an iPhone. I do know that initially you must select which reading device, register thru your Amazon account, you want the digital book sent too. I don’t recall seeing a “send to all” in the drop down menu. Though there should be an option thereafter once the purchase is made.

Hope this has been useful to some. If more I encounter more information I will make sure to share it along.

Posted by djJASMAN in California on March 6, 2009 at 12:36 PM (PDT)

15

I go to amazon via google on my Itouch and download samples and books from there directly to my touch.  I bought a Kindle for my son and he loves it so when the opportunity for the Itouch/Iphone app which is FREE came up I jumped on it. Thanks djJASMAN for the sharing info. I have been looking for that so my son and I can share books.

Posted by femdivine on May 8, 2009 at 7:56 PM (PDT)

16

Well, I just today downloaded the Amazon ap, and I had no trouble whatever (well—see below) downloading three book samples, whether from iTunes directly or from the iPod Touch. So I just don’t think it’s true that you have to go through the PC.

You do of course have to have a wi-fi router within range! This may have been the poster’s difficulty. Perhaps he was on an iPhone, and the iPhone doesn’t do broadband? As I understand it, the iPhone is on the ATT network, while Kindle uses the Sprint network.

(The caveat is that I find it rather difficult to type on the Touch’s virtual keyboard, which I assume is the same as the iPhone’s. However, once I had entered my log-in information, Amazon seemed to remember it, and there was a little note that who was logged in was Dan’s iPod.)

Posted by Oldpilot on May 22, 2009 at 1:53 PM (PDT)

17

Does anyone know if you have the iPod Touch and you have the Kindle app, if it works outside the US? Thanks

Posted by Nick on August 5, 2009 at 10:25 PM (PDT)

18

You can certainly purchase books and get samples through the app. I’ve been using it on my touch for months now. It has become my preferred method of reading. The interface is simple, The font can be enlarged but is easy to read, and the backlit text makes it nice for reading in bed at night while the spouse sleeps. Book prices are reasonable. While I too was considering a kindle, this has probably stopped me from buying one for as long as the ipod lasts, if anything were to ever happen to the ipod, I would more than likely go out and buy a kindle for sure now. Although with the rumors of macs tablet readers off in the near future, who knows.

Posted by A7thson on September 23, 2009 at 11:17 AM (PDT)

19

How do I sync books between my kindle app on my PC, and my kindle app on my iPod touch?

Posted by walterbyrd on April 18, 2010 at 9:27 AM (PDT)

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