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Amazon Releases iPhone Kindle Software 232

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the eyestrain-is-fun dept.
palmsolo writes "The Amazon Kindle 2 just started shipping last week, but Amazon surprised everyone late on March 3rd by placing the Amazon Kindle software for the iPhone in the Apple App Store. With the Whispersync technology you can now keep your Kindle and iPhone ebooks in sync and read everywhere you go. Readers on the iPhone also now get access to over 200,000 ebook titles on the Amazon Kindle storefront. Check out the hands-on image gallery and video of the Amazon Kindle software on the iPhone and Kindle 2."
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Amazon Releases iPhone Kindle Software

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  • Sitting ducks again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mastropiero (258677) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @11:58AM (#27065261) Journal

    Cue the author's guild bitching about how they lose money because now their ebooks can be read by two devices instead of just one in 3...2...1...

  • iPhone Resolution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:17PM (#27065517) Homepage Journal

    The screen won't get larger, but most rumors say the next iPhone (much like the G2 launching in April) will feature an OLED screen with much higher resolution. It will use less battery, and be slimmer.

  • by theredshoes (1308621) <theredshoes33.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:19PM (#27065559)
    I know most of the people here might not agree, but the new iPods are extremely cool and nice. :( Since you don't need the Kindle to use it, buying an iPod would probably be more in line with most people's budgets. And this would be great way to read on the subway or on a break with coffee, if your vision is decent.

    I really like the Kindle too, but if you could have a small portable iPod for your books and music that is really great. For commuters this is a very nice piece of technology and software.

    The iPhone is too expensive and not worth the money. The average person would probably buy the iPod because it costs so much less than the iPhone. With the Apple stores and going online and looking around there are always have deals or a refurbished one, you just have to watch for them every few months.
  • Not outside USA? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by the_g_cat (821331) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:29PM (#27065683) Homepage
    It seems I can't get the software, because it's not available on the german store... Has anyone had any luck getting the software with a non US account?
  • Fonts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by n9uxu8 (729360) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:36PM (#27065789) Homepage
    Always make sure you preview a sample before buying though. The font choices for some of these are just inexplicably bad. Check out Zoe's Tale vs An Autumn War. The AWA font is terrible...
  • Re:iPhone Resolution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:37PM (#27065805)

    The screen won't get larger, but most rumors say the next iPhone (much like the G2 launching in April) will feature an OLED screen with much higher resolution. It will use less battery, and be slimmer.

    I hope so. Resolution is a big deal. I can easily read text without zooming in on most pages (for instance, this one) on my 640x480 htc diamond display. I tried an iphone briefly after I got the diamond and while it was very slick in a lot of ways, I couldn't handle the lower resolution for web browsing. I have only so-so vision and I imagined pixel density would make high resolution on these little screens pointless, but I was wrong. An iphone with at an 800x600 display would more than double my interest.

  • by tobrien101 (786863) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:01PM (#27066117) Homepage
    I am legally blind, so usually reading on my iPod Touch is out of the question. I just tested the Kindle app out with my wife's Kindle account. I can actually read the largest font settings with my reading glasses. I don't think I could read on the iPhone for a long time, but I certainly could do it for short periods of time. I have to hold the device up to my face, which is uncomfortable, but I have to do that with anything I read. The Touch is lighter than any of Neal Stephenson's books, even the paperbacks.
  • by CompMD (522020) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:02PM (#27066131)

    Mod parent up.

    Marketing, rather than quality engineered products is what people are raving over. They'll take something shiny over something good any day.

    I love my PDA, a Garmin iQue M5. Its 420MHz, has SDIO (I have an SDIO wifi card for it), bluetooth, a solid construction, and the screeen is large, bright, and easy to read. It also has a GPS and performs turn by turn directions. And it was on the market years before Apple even dreamed of the iPod Touch.

  • by Tacvek (948259) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:20PM (#27066357) Journal

    Very true. With the top text to speech software available, plus additional annotations amnually added to the ebook, a very pleasent experience could be had.

    Consider the addition of a pronunciation key for text-specific words that the automatic pronunciation deduction gets wrong, along with per sentence (or group of words) metadata to indicate things like tempo, word spacing, pitch, etc. Combine this with a sufficiently configurable TTS engine, and the result could be remarkable similar to an audiobook. Character dialog could be differentiated to the point of giving each character a unique voice, along with the appropriate variations in dialog as per context. An annoyed character may end up talking lower and deeper with a more monotonic quality to the voice, for example.

    Perhaps that sounds like a lot of work. But with some software a person could define the narrator and character voices, along with names, and have the software run through thhe text, and attempt to attch the metadata to text with a variety of algorithms, which can be slightly agressive, since mistakes will be corrected. It should be reasonably possible for software to fairly accurately determine which character is speaking each line of dialog from the text, and mark those, and even look for adverbs on the associated sentence ("1.21 Gigawatts", he correctly quickly.) and attach modifieres to the dialog.

    Then the person would just listen to the book, stopping it wherever there is a problem (mispronounced word, attributed dialog, etc.) and making corrections. I'd imagine the time for the read-through and corrections for many works would be not much more than 5-10 times the final length of the work. Initial setup, especially crafting character voices may add some significant time to the beginning though.

    So it sounds feasible with today's technology to have a near audiobook quality TTS-based reading, although it make take a similar amount of time as recording an audiobook to construct each.

    Of course, if Kindle had such features, the tts-related complaints would probably be valid.

    But that is all a far cry from the TTS accurately inferring all of that from the text on the fly, which of course would be far more desirable.

  • by pha7boy (1242512) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:39PM (#27066617)
    for those of us that have not fallen to the Apple Side (yet), any chance we'll get a blackberry app from Amazon soon? And for that matter, what about the Windows Mobile application? I would like to be able to read books on my BB, especially when on long flights.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:49PM (#27066755)

    Yea but it doesnt make calls. I only like to carry around one piece of hardware

  • by illegalcortex (1007791) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:53PM (#27066821)

    First off, as others pointed out the technology will improve. I think one day it probably will replace human audiobook readers. I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Unfortunately, the quality of the performer has a LOT to do with the experience of the listener. Take for example Frank Muller. He was widely known as one of the "best" audiobook readers in the business, his career ended only by a tragic accident in 2001. I knew of him because he read almost all of Stephen King's audiobooks. While I feel for the man and his family, I have to say that I found him unlistenable. I bought a recording of Black House and could not make it past the first half hour. He read things in an overwrought, almost Shakespearean tone, even for mundane bits of narration. And every sentence had the same basic pitch structure. It made me laugh, as well as everyone I played it for. The part that made me stop laughing was that I'd paid $60 for something I couldn't listen to.

    Clearly he has plenty of fans, what with all his awards and accolades and such. But he was not my cup of tea. This is unfortunate, as I'm a King fan. Even if I've read a book, it's nice to go back and listen to it again later on audiobook while driving or working out. After Muller had to retire, George Guidall performed the rewrite of Gunslinger. I was dismayed to realize he used the exact same performance style. Since then I haven't even tried another King audiobook. Considering the quality of his more recent output, this hasn't really bothered me that much.

    And then you get older or more obscure titles that no one is going to perform because of the costs involved. Or titles that were performed long ago and you can't find them anymore. I recently found a torrent of Heinlein's Time for the Stars. I enjoyed the story quite a bit, even though it was a fairly lousy quality copy of an old cassette and the performer was nothing special. The only other way you're going to find this recording is eBay/craiglist/garage sale.

    On top of this, places like Amazon and Audible frequently don't even list the performer. I'd say "usually", in the case of the titles I look for. And when they do and it's a person you've never heard of (also frequent), good luck finding a sample of their performance.

    So yeah, I see a huge market for something like this if they can improve the technology enough. Audiobooks are insanely overpriced, and I wonder what using software like this might do to that price. I would hope that there'd still be a market for certain performers, like Jim Dale. His Harry Potter performances are wonderful. And I'd miss hearing the works of Sarah Vowell or David Sedaris in any voice other than his. Of course, eventually it's likely that a computer simulation will be able to mimic them fairly accurately. I know I can already mimic the latter two in my head when I read their writing in print. Imagine if you could get the works of Twain read in a sufficiently Twain-like voice. Or set the voice to "James Earl Jones" when you listen to Lord of the Rings.

    The authors have nothing to worry about. In fact, they'll probably make money on the deal. It's the performers and those who work in the recording department who are going to be out of a job. But then, they'll be jobs created for software people. Such is the way of change.

  • Thumbs up to Amazon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gozu (541069) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:55PM (#27066845) Journal

    I own a first gen kindle and an iPhone and this is a very nice gift from Amazon. A free app that allows me to keep reading my e-books when I'm bored and don't have my kindle handy. What's not to like?

    It's not often that I say this about a huge corporation but Kudos to Amazon for thinking about the consumer and providing more convenience as opposed to the Riaa/Mpaa.

    Now, if only they would get that stupid DRM off their ebooks and slash their (inflated) prices, I'd have nothing left to complain about.

  • by tobrien101 (786863) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @09:48PM (#27072617) Homepage
    I am an early Audible subscriber. I still have a legacy plan! As happy as I am with Audible, the Audible catalog is incomplete. There are tons of books that I want to read which have not been recorded. The Kindle could give me access to them with TTs.

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