5 best book reading apps for iPhone and iPad
Marvin for iPad
There are a lot more book reading apps for iOS than just iBooks and in this short overview you’ll find my top 5 recommendations.
There is no iBooks in the list and I did it in purpose. Its unique feature is that you can shop iBookstore directly within the app. That is not a result of an outstanding app development, but Apple’s policy (30% cut from any purchase) which prevents competition from adding in-app purchase option.
Most popular book reading apps are tied with particular ebookstores. Kindle, Kobo, Nook or Sony are designed to let users of these ebookstores access books they bought there and manage their personal bookshelves.
In this overview I’d like to focus more on what app offers rather than what ebookstore does. So, “millions of titles” is not the reason to include the app in the list below. Instead, you’ll learn which app has a feature others don’t, and why it’s good to try it.
5 best book reading apps for iPhone and iPad
Kindle app is one of most advanced book readers in the iTunes AppStore. You can read not only books, but also newspapers and magazines that you subscribe via Kindle Store.
The app supports enhanced ebooks, the ones described as Kindle with Audio/Video – something you can’t read on your Kindle e-reader.
On of the most convenient features Kindle app gives is the ability to send own ebooks to an email address that is specific to your Kindle app (and different for Kindle apps on each and every of your iOS devices).
To find this email, slide the top bar to the right to reveal Docs section. Right below you’ll see “Send documents to” and the email address.
Every time you send a file with an attachment in mobi format (DRM-free), it will appear in the relevant Kindle app right away, so there is no need to download it from the cloud library.
The way dictionary works is also very specific – and much more useful than in other apps. When you jump to a full definition of the word in the dictionary, you are still able to get the definition of words there. Thanks to that you can further explore word’s meaning, as it’s not a one-step lookup, like in other apps.
Some books from the Kindle Store have a great feature enabled which is called “X-Ray”. It allows to better understand the book’s structure, and helps a lot if you’re lost in a plot. The feature comes together with Book Extras, powered by Shelfari. It’s editable book encyclopedia – a list of most important facts about the book.
Google Play Books
Kindle app, however, is missing one feature. This feature is offered by Google Play Books and it’s the reason why Google’s app is in this overview. It’s instant translation.
If English is your mother tongue, you may not understand why translation is so important. If you speak another language and still learn English, looking up for the meaning of a word in a dictionary may not bring the immediate association of what this word is in your mother tongue. Translation is a quick help in every case like that.
You can get a translation in just two two taps. Tap on a word or select a passage, and a pop-up window will appear. Tap on Translate and set up language-to-language translation flow (you’ll have to do it only once).
Translation is powered, obviously, by Google Translate. You’d be surprised how accurate it is, not only for words but entire sentences.
I’ve found a workaround to translate words in the Kindle iOS app, using Google lookup as a tool. Anyway, Amazon should include it if they seriously care for international customers. Translation seems to be not a big deal. If eBookMobi app can have it, why not Kindle?
If you need a quick language dictionary lookup, Google Play Books is for now the best option.
Besides very friendly customization options, Kobo app offers an experience that makes the most of social reading in the digital age.
Kobo’s set of social features is called Reading Life. You can not only read the book, but join a conversation about it at any time.
There is a Kobo Pulse indicator at the bottom of the page. It get brighter on pages with more comments and reader activity. When you tap on it you’ll see what other readers think about what you’ve just read.
You can also share your own notes and thoughts. Simply, highlight the passage and write down your comment.
By connecting with your friends’ Reading Life on Facebook you’ll know what they read, as well as view and compare their awards and stats.
Awards and stats are two other features that lets read a book in a more dynamic way. Any time you can check out how quickly you read: how many pages per hour or how many hours per book.
There are also several awards to win while you use the app. These awards ”help celebrate fun milestones in your Reading Life”. You can become a Scout Leader or Deep Thinker or Night Rider, depending on how and when you read and use the Reading Life.
If you’re curious about what to expect from social reading, download Kobo app and explore what Reading Life has to offer.
The three apps above are devoted to get access to particular ebookstores, but if you prefer independency you should check out Readmill app.
You can start using the app by signing in with your Facebook credentials. The app supports popular file formats, epub and pdf – also the files with Adobe DRM.
Readmill’s Adobe DRM support lets you read with this app books bought in Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Sony Ebookstore. Remember to authorize the iPhone or iPad with your Adobe ID, before you start downloading the files to Readmill.
The app is a clean and simple combination of a book reader, book discovery tool and social reading. You won’t feel overwhelmed with too many features, and can start reading right away after downloading the app.
What’s the strongest side of the app is it’s sleek interface. It’s definitely the most beautiful book app in the iTunes AppStore. In fact, Readmill’s minimalist design had the iOS 7 look long before iOS 7 was announced.
Making ebooks beautiful is very difficult, because the design comes as a result of two factors: how the ebook is formatted, and how the book reader is designed. Readmill does the second job perfectly.
Although Readmill is an independent app, it lets you sync your library via the cloud. You can download books directly to the app on the iOS device: (via email, cloud service app like Dropbox, Safari, or in-app catalog), but you can also add books via Readmill.com website.
Kindle is one of the most advanced book readers for iOS, because the most advanced one is Marvin. The app is available only for the iPad, and that’s because you can only see on a larger screen how much it can offer.
Marvin app gives you the most advanced personalization panel ever. You’ll not only change the font type and size, but can set up a different one to text and a different one to heading.
You can define your own theme (different for a day and night), but best of all you can also set up your own gestures, for instance swiping to control brightness, or page turn directions, or snapping to bookmarks.
Marvin supports DRM-free epub files only, but it lets add new books right within the app: via built-in browser, Dropbox, or OPDS catalog.
Most importantly, Marvin app lets you analyze the book the way Kindle’s X-Ray does – and you can have it for every book, not only X-Ray enabled.
Marvin intelligently looks up extended information on Wikipedia without leaving the app. You can look up characters or places in the book you’re reading to see biographies, articles, or photos.
The app supports metadata and Calibre book management. The ways you can search your library of books are extensive: by tag, topic, vocabulary and even by number of words.
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