Today Amazon introduced a new HTML5 Kindle app designed for use with web browsers, which is optimized for the Apple iPad, and provides a workaround for Amazon to continue to offer Kindle shopping from within the app on the iPad.
A couple of weeks ago, Apple started enforcing a rule that requires anyone who offers in-app purchases to pay Apple 30 percent of the sale. So of course all the ebook apps got updated to remove any outgoing links and built-in stores to keep Apple from pulling their apps.
Kobo went on record saying that they would develop an HTML5 app for the Safari web browser to continue to allow customers to shop for ebooks and other digital content from within the ebook app, an approach that many app developers will likely take, but Amazon has beaten everyone to the punch by launching the Kindle Cloud Reader, what is effectively a huge middle finger to Apple and big thumbs-up to Kindle fans.
The Kindle Cloud Reader currently works with the Safari web browser for iPad, Mac, and PC, as well as the Chrome web browser. Amazon states that the Kindle Cloud Reader will be available on Internet Explorer, Firefox, the BlackBerry PlayBook browser, and other mobile browsers in the coming months. It doesn’t currently work with the iPhone’s web browser, but it probably won’t stay that way for long.
Obviously getting it to work with the Safari browser was the main priority with the recent changes to Apple’s policies. That’s probably what is giving the Kindle Cloud Reader somewhat of a rushed feel to it. It works well, but there are a number of features missing that the other Kindle apps offer. There’s no search feature and no onscreen functions for notes, highlights, or dictionary, although you can view notes and highlights. Plus it is a little slower to load. Other than that it is pretty much the same as the regular iPad Kindle app, with the obvious exception that it has the Kindle Store accessible from the homescreen.
In order to download the Kindle Cloud Reader to the iPad, you simply need to visit www.amazon.com/cloudreader with the Safari web browser and then login to your Amazon account. You will then be given the option to add an app icon to the iPad’s homescreen. The same applies for the Chrome and other Safari web browsers for computers too, except the part about adding an app icon to the homescreen. Instead you bookmark the page.
Even though the Kindle Cloud Reader is a web-based application, you can save your books for offline reading so you don’t have to worry about maintaining an internet connection all the time. The homescreen has two sections, one for the cloud, which shows all your books on Amazon, and one for downloaded titles.
Here’s a hands-on look at how the Kindle Cloud Reader works on the Apple iPad.