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Amazon Releases iPhone Kindle Software 232

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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  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) * on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @11:55AM (#27065209) Homepage
    Thousands of iPhone zombies squinting into tiny little screens, walking into cars, telephone poles, other zombies.This world is getting out of hand.

    Actually, I'm just jealous. I couldn't possibly read that tiny little type.
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @11:55AM (#27065211) Journal

    Amazon Releases iPhone Kindle Software

    Finally I won't have to huddle around a pile of tinder in the forest, rubbing two iPhones together just to get a spark to light my campfire.

    We lived like cavemen before iPhone software.

  • by joeflies ( 529536 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @11:58AM (#27065251)

    Do you need a Kindle to use this iphone app? The article only talks about the benefits of using the app with the kindle, but for all of those that don't have one, can we use the app and buy ebooks on the amazon store?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:04PM (#27065355)

      No Kindle is needed. You can buy books using a web browser on your PC and have the books sent wirelessly to your iPhone/iPod touch.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Cinder6 ( 894572 )

          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.

          Last I checked, the iPod Touch was $30 more than the iPhone hardware for an 8GB ($229), and the same price ($299) for the 16GB). (I last checked 1 minute ago.)

          Now, if you're talking data plans, sure, the

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by haystor ( 102186 )

            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.

            Last I checked, the iPod Touch was $30 more than the iPhone hardware for an 8GB ($229), and the same price ($299) for the 16GB). (I last checked 1 minute ago.)

            Now, if you're talking data plans, sure, the iPhone ends up more expensive after just one month. But the price difference obviously depends on your current phone plan. I had unlimited Internet on my old Blackjack, and getting the iPhone 3G was only $15/month more for me--and I was told I would have to pay $15/month more for any phone I got, as I was on an older, cheaper data plan than they currently offered (woo, prices went up!).


            *Qualified customers only. Two-year contract required.

      • by Thaelon ( 250687 )

        Last I checked you weren't allowed the privilege of purchasing an amazon ebook without having a Kindle registered to your account.

        And believe me I was interested in find out if it was possible, the kindle inferior. You need a book light for an ebook reader? Seriously?

    • No, you don't. I just downloaded it and tried out a sample chapter. I had previously used eReader from Fictionwise, but they were unable to get "The Amber Spyglass," even though they had the first two books of Pullman's Dark Materials series.

      Amazon had the content, so I went and bought Amber Spyglass.

    • I think they focused on the benefit of using this app with the Kindle because... well, the first question that popped into my head was, "If I buy a book on my iPhone and then get a Kindle in a few months, will I be able to transfer my books over to the Kindle, or are they going to try to make me buy them all again?"

      Once I had gotten past that thought, my next question might have been, "Well how hard will it be to transfer books from one to the other? Will Amazon provide a mechanism for that?" If I had gotten past those two, I'd like to think I'd be clever enough to ask at some point, "Can they provide any method for me to read on my one device and have my place synced over to the other so I can pick up right where I left off?"

      It looks like Amazon may have covered their bases pretty well.

    • Disappointingly, it seems that it's only available in the US too. Very disappointing for us Brits.

      • Agreed. I was going to get this app until the Kindle made its way to the UK, but I can't even do that.

      • Most likely because they only have the book rights for all those books in the US. It would have been foolish to have paid extra money for worldwide rights (or even US+UK) when they were going to be testing the Kindle in the US first to see if it would flop or succeed. It may or not also be related to purchasing UK versions of books (because yeah, some books are localized even though it's kind of dumb) and purchasing a different title list based on popularity in the UK.

        I would expect once they purchase boo

    • It's great Amazon is opening up the market to iPhone and iPod Touch users. The other shoe will drop when they release a desktop version of the Kindle. The ebook wars will be on their way to over if that happens.
    • No, the app works just fine if you don't own a Kindle.

  • 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...

    • by blhack ( 921171 )

      The authors need to STFU immediately.

      This is what the text-to-"speech" sounds like Keep in mind that this is bezos himself presenting the thing....its the best conditions possible for it to work correctly. []

      Sound familiar? Yeah...that is because this is the voice used in airports across the land to say things like "Thomas Anderson. You have a message waiting. Please go to the paging station".

      I cannot think of ANYBODY (that can otherwise read) that would ever want to listen to a book or newspaper read to

      • I cannot think of ANYBODY (that can otherwise read) that would ever want to listen to a book or newspaper read to them in that voice. The text-to-speech needs to be looked at as a tool for blind people to be able to have books read to them, not as an add-on feature that replaces audio books.

        While I agree that text-to-speech should not be a copyright issue, and that it currently sounds horrible, I think the quality issue will change.

        If text-to-speech is even remotely popular, it will keep improving in qualit

        • by blhack ( 921171 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:29PM (#27065687)

          I think the quality issue will change.

          I don't know about this, at least not in the near future, and probably not on a device as weak (computationally) as the kindle.

          There is a lot *more* to speech that the words, the sounds of the letters. Speech is music, words are like tabs.

          Every tried to play a guitar song by looking at a tab and having never heard the song before? Or tried to sing karaoke? Its hard. Its almost impossible to get it right.
          Computers are trying to do the same thing with text-to-speech. Text doesn't tell you what sort of inflection to use, what sort of cadence to use, says nothing of dynamic range. (can you see that I'm trying to draw a correlation between speech and music).

          More analogies:
          Text-To-Speech is a lot like trying to get a concert masterpiece from a midi file...except that even the midi file is telling you WHEN to play the notes. The text doesn't even do that.
          A lof of the cues that we use to read speech naturally comes from our ability to "render" whatever scene we're reading from in our head, and use the cues from the scene to act out the part of whatever we're reading (be it the narrator, or a character, or a journalist in a magazine article).

          Is it possible to replace human speech with a computer? Yes, most definitely. Is it practical to do it in something like the kindle with current technology?

          • It could drastically be improved with a format for adding information of pacing, inflection etc. to ebooks. Old ebooks could be retrofitted with it, new books could come with it as standard. The books without the data would be read as they are now, the books with would be much better with very little additional computational overhead.

          • 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.

            • It made me think of an additional feature. I often have a different book going that I read at home, one I leave in my car for when I'm waiting on a Dr.'s appointment or eating at a restaurant alone, and another one on my ipod hooked up to my car stereo. It would be great to be able to have a book that I could transition from reading to listening to and back again any time I pleased.

            • by blhack ( 921171 )

              This actually sounds like quite a bit MORE work than just having somebody read through it.

              Speech is art, like it or not. If we get to a point where computers are producing our art, I'm quiting.

            • by Jay L ( 74152 ) * <jay+slash AT jay DOT fm> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:45PM (#27067507) Homepage

              Perhaps that sounds like a lot of work.

              More importantly, it sounds like a lot more work than recording the audio. What's the advantage of the TTS method?

              You no longer need voiceover artists. Instead, you need a voiceover programmer. You still need someone with all the skills of a voiceover producer to make multiple listen-and-tweak passes. I suspect that it takes more producer time to tweak the TTS than it takes to tweak human talent - and producers are more expensive than talent. You'll also have the TTS equivalent of "browser compatibility testing". So your labor costs probably go up with TTS.

              The real advantage of text is bandwidth and storage - and even today, the resource requirements of audio speech are already far more comparable to those of text than those of video. By the time we develop sufficiently advanced TTS workflows, why wouldn't TTS be as quaint a concept as recompressed-for-modem-download JPEGs on web proxies, or SID/MIDI files for popular music? Both were technical solutions that brought media to the masses before the masses were ready. Both disappeared as soon as we could feasibly transmit the real thing.

        • by Devir ( 671031 )

          What the writer's guild don't understand is that Audio books are just too damn expensive. The Twilight set is offered for as much as $200. Other set's are around $100. so after buying book and audio set, you're deep in the hole.

          It is their pricing model that is pushing them out of the business, not the fact there is a text to speech feature on kindle, PDF blah blah. waah.

      • 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

  • by Vandil X ( 636030 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:01PM (#27065293)
    Amazon probably makes plenty of money off eBook sales. With tons of iPhone and iPod Touch users using Stanza and other eBook readers, it only makes sense to support this market. Now instead of having Amazon eBook sales tied to Kindle hardware, they can tie to iPhones and iPod Touches too.

    While I don't think this will do anything to get iPhone/iPod Touch users to buy a Kindle, it will certainly quintuple their Kindle eBook sales.

    Watch the Kindle software platform become available on other devices (Android, Windows Mobile) in the near future.
    • by Amouth ( 879122 )

      the "other devices" is the first thing i thought of when i saw this.

      I use a phone with Windows Mobile on it (the 8525) - i like the iPhone but without support for teathering (need it for work) it's a no go for me.

      I already use my phone to read ebooks and if this software was avaliable for mobile 5 i would be downloading it instead of writing this response.

      While honestly the page sync is nice it is a gimic really.. having the sync of the collection is very nice, I do have to wonder about adding books i alrea

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      If it's got a good interface, I welcome it. If it will also read standard text files (txt, rtf especially) then I eagerly await it. I have a G1 and there's no decent book reader app yet. I have an n800 and the only decent book reader is ancient and the new versions aren't free any more.

      I've considered writing my own, but man... I really hate Java. I even started coding and got about 30 minutes into it before I remembered why I hate Java: Arrays and files. (Especially Zip files.) They are every bit a

    • While I don't think this will do anything to get iPhone/iPod Touch users to buy a Kindle

      I'm not so sure it won't. It may be that iPod/iPhone users will try this out, generally like the experience, but decide it's worth buying a Kindle for the improved reading experience of a larger e-ink screen.

      Otherwise, I think you're right. This seems like a smart move for Amazon.

    • I like Stanza better, actually. It's more pleasant to read with. In Stanza I can tap to turn the page, pinch-unpinch to alter the text size, and rotate to get a different aspect ratio. In the Kindle app, I have to swipe to turn the page, tapping just annoyingly brings up some controls I usually don't want, and rotation does nothing. I still haven't figured out if I can adjust the text size in Kindle. On the other hand, rotation not working means I can lay down on my side, turn the phone to align with my hea

  • Also ipod touch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by proxima ( 165692 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:07PM (#27065393)

    The summary doesn't make it clear, but the article mentions that it also works with the iPod touch. Considering the touch is smaller, lighter, and much cheaper than both the iPhone and the Kindle, this application might give a significant boost to readers looking for a (relatively) inexpensive reader.

    Having read long books on old Palm PDAs, the size of the screen is only a minor annoyance. Those PDAs, though, were not backlit LCDs. Some people might find an iPod screen too fatiguing for long reading.

    • The iPod Touch/iPhone kindle application also supports color graphics in eBooks that use it. Kindle only has I think 16 shades of gray. This can make a lot of technical documentation look WAY better. Anything with charts or graphs (for you management folk) I assume would be the same way.
  • Compromise to DRM? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:10PM (#27065433)
    If Amazon starts allowing its software to be used on _any_ platform, whether it be iPhone, Kindle, Laptop, Netbook, or 3rd Party eBook Reader, would that be an acceptable compromise to the fact that their e-books use DRM?

    Valve's Steam has shown that people (even Geeks who notoriously hate DRM) are willing to compromise and use DRM if something of great enough value is offered with it (and possibly because of it).
  • Not outside USA? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by the_g_cat ( 821331 )
    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?
  • Tried it out (Score:5, Informative)

    by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:30PM (#27065699) Homepage

    Surprisingly it is quite readable even on the iPhone's small screen. You just swipe your finger across the screen to flip back/forth through the pages. There is options to change the font size, so really the only complaint you can have is how much/little text fits on the screen before you have to flip a page.

    There are some free books on the Kindle Store (mostly classics like Treasure Island and some religious texts like the Bible), so there is no cost to try out the Kindle iPhone app.

    Really cool how you buy via your web browser. Next time you open the Kindle app, it just automatically syncs what you have just purchased to the iPhone. Since it is just text, it takes just seconds to sync. Should not be painful to use even in poor signal locations and on EDGE. Plus you can download any purchase you make for free again in the future.

    I don't know if if I would buy all of my books this way (I lately have been using the local library), but in a pinch (say on a trip) when I want a book to read and don't want to or can't stop by a bookstore or library, this could work very well.

    • Re:Tried it out (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:40PM (#27065831) Homepage

      I buy books from living authors I like, because I want them to keep writing. Dead authors? I use the library. I don't give a crap about supporting their whiny children's estate.

      • There's an argument there that by not paying for dead authors' works, the living authors actually get more money because you have a certain amount of disposable income. Of course, it's opinion without actual science to back it up, and I can see how it might not work out that way.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bitt3n ( 941736 )
        I do the same, but sometimes I kill the author first to save money.
  • Due to DRM of bookware.
    They hope you have a better reading experience and spend more money if you use their reader.
  • 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...
  • iStrain? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:04PM (#27066159)

    Give me a phone with e-ink display first.

    • Give me a phone with e-ink display first.

      Is the Motofone [] good enough? I have one, and it is a calculatorisque display. If you're a gadget freak stay away from it, but at 20 USD I can't complain much about it.

  • by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:12PM (#27066239)

    Not available in the Canadian app-store (or in Europe).

    I really am saddened by this aspect of 'progress', you can order physical CDs, DVDs, kindles, anything from all over the world and nobody has an issue with that, but the second anything becomes distributed electronically boom, we're transported to this strange super-protectionistic world where things do not move freely anymore.

    I fear for tomorrow's world, where instead of being exposed to music, shows, books, tv, from other countries you will just be able to read, listen and watch to things 'approved' by some company somewhere.

    And let's not talk about people learning a foreign language: say you're studying German and you'd love to read some German books and watch some shows from, sorry, no way. Or maybe you live in Brazil and you'd like to improve your English by reading books, listening to music and watching shows over the internet, nossiree, not gonna happen.

    It seems that modern technology is more and more used as a 'control' technology, vs an 'enabling' technology, which is quite sad as it just promotes an extremely insular world, instead of the free exchange of information.

    I really hope that, as it happened to the music DRM, at some point the 'powers that be' will realize that this attitude is completely wrong, but given the latest salvo by the book authors about the kindle's text-to-speech functionality (which could've helped a lot of blind or non-native-English speakers) I am really not sure if it will ever happen.

    • It's all about price. If I write a book and someone wants to sell it in one single country, I'm going to get a lot lower of a price from them than someone who wants to sell it worldwide. This is especially true of electronic sales, as it's (unfortunately) tied to certain technologies. Books that only play on the Kindle, audiobooks that only play on the iPod, etc.

      This isn't really a major issue with physical goods because you have to pay shipping. This naturally limits the sales outside of your region.

  • by ChipMonk ( 711367 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:34PM (#27066543) Journal
    Why not? Most geeks will use it for their own pleasure.
  • 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.
  • Thumbs up to Amazon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by __aailob1448 ( 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 MistaE ( 776169 )
      You do know that Amazon has slashed the inflated prices of eBooks, right? A great deal of the new books with a $9.99 price point are being sold at a loss by Amazon. The official price of the books set by the publishers is very similar to the paperback equivalents.

      It's still high, yes. But it could be a lot worse.
  • by proc_tarry ( 704097 ) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:06PM (#27066995)
    I subscribe to the Financial Times on my Kindle. I just installed the iPhone app and FT is not available to download, only the books I've purchased.
  • Summary unclear: do we need a Kindle to use that software, or is it independent ?

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