When it comes to dedicated reading devices, Kindles and Kobos are at the top of the list. Both are similar in a lot of ways, but there are some things Kindles do better than Kobos and vice versa.
Over the past couple of years it seems like the Kindle software developers are more concerned about changing the interface around than actually adding any useful new features.
They’ve already changed some things to be more like Kobos, like adding the scrollable library list with thumbnails in list view, and making it so you can view bookcovers on the sleepscreen when Kindles are turned off.
Kobo ereaders definitely have some usability advantages over Kindles, but this isn’t a Kindle vs Kobo post. Both are great reading devices, and I like using both brands, but it would be nice if Amazon added some of the features that make Kobos better.
Both companies could stand to improve their notetaking apps quite a lot, so I’m not going to touch on that. These are five things that would be nice to have on Kindles to improve the interface and reading experience.
Five Features Kindles Should Take from Kobos
1. More Layout Settings – Kindles have had the same three line-spacing and margin settings forever, and I often wish there were more usable font sizes to choose from. Kobos have like 50 font sizes and a way more line-spacing and margin settings.
2. Frontlight Swiping – One of the handy features with Kobos is the ability to adjust the frontlight brightness by swiping up and down the left side of the screen without having to open the menu and changing the view of the text on the screen.
3. Recently Opened List – One of the newer features that Kobo added a couple software updates ago is the ability to swipe down from the top of the screen to quickly jump between your 3 most recently-opened files without having to go back to the library view.
4. Change Tap Zones – Kobo ereaders have long had the option to set different tap zones when reading to page forward and back and to open the menu. This would be nice to have on the Kindle Scribe in particular because when holding it left-handed tapping the screen will page back instead of forward, so you always have to remember to use swipes instead of taps.
5. PDF Zoom Lock – Kobo recently added the ability to lock the zoom level when viewing PDFs to get rid of large margins. With Kindles the zoom level resets with every page, and it’s annoying.
On my Kobo I really like Dropbox and OverDrive.
Hopefully it supports Libby because Overdrive is going bye bye.
Kobo is using API OverDrive nkt app. 😉
I admit I don’t know what that is! I retired from a library and am familiar with the public library version. I’ve never used a kobo.
I’m pretty basic. I currently use a Kindle 6.8. I do wish one could borrow library books directly from it, but a variety of fonts and swipes aren’t important to me. What does bother me is that my kindle unlimited trial ended. I found a new one and went to re-download the books I hadn’t yet read. This would also be the same for anyone trying to download a lot of KU titles. For whatever reason not all downloaded, even though checking indicated all had been sent. I finally had to search, on the Kindle search feature, for titles I saw online in my KU library that hadn’t downloaded, The “Home” tab on the Kindle only shows a limited amount of my titles, and so I couldn’t see on the homepage all of my KU titles. So I couldn’t download from that page (it’s hard to make this clear!). Being unable to see all of my KU titles on the kindle homepage is a PITA especially when I’m trying to get them to show on my kindle to get then to actually download.
Using the Libby App is easier than searching on the Kobo itself. I do almost all of my reading from the library. As long as you have an Amazon account it’s only one tap more to get the book.
I love two things that make me continue using Kobo devices:
1) Giving me the number of page turns left in a chapter. I have this info at the top of the screen. It is soooo much better than a “time left in chapter” guesstimate, especially if I sometimes stop reading on a page and it makes that time estimate go high.
2) The overall book progress bar at the bottom of the screen. It’s like a little visual of how a bookmark looks like when viewing a book from above. Barnes & Noble NOOK devices used to have this but no longer.
Steve H. says
Definitely agree to this in addition to Nathan’s thoughts.
Steve H. says
Also, generated page numbers.
I agree with the screen swiping for light brightness control. I wish both Kindle and Kobo would steal swiping one side for brightness and the other side for warmth from Pocketbook and that Kobo would steal the clock from Kindle.
Steve H. says
They probably should make it optional, however, it is only one tap to the top of the screen away.
I only wish the Frontlight Swiping would extent do the right side and adjust the screen warmth. Having the brightness change with the swipe left is really, really convenient but when I want to make the screen more or less orange I still have to use the “light menu”…
# 1 PLEASE. More Font size options! Kindle is terrible at font sizes. Either too big or too small with a single incremental change. Hard to get a right font size with Kindles. With Kobo I get it right every time. Also totally agree with margins and line spacing. Too limited.
Nothing can beat Kobo integration with Calibre. One can manage metadata and collections on one’s Kobo automatically when the device is connected to Calibre. On a Kindle collections must be managed manually (at least with sideloaded books, which for me means everything, I never use direct downloads), and to change metadata you’ll have to delete and re-add the book.
I also definitely agree with customization options. Kobo has more default ones and even more can be added with patching. With a Kindle you can do almost nothing unless you jailbreak it, and that’s pretty PITA.
The one area Kindles are better than Kobos is stability. Kobos have more bugs, probably because they’re a lot more open. And of course syncing for personal documents, which I don’t need, but many people do.
Return of the progress bar – With the chapter marks easily see not only where you are in a book but where you are in a chapter. Easily jump to the start of a chapter. Allow users to have the progress bar show or not in setting.
Return Screen Rotation – Screen Rotation menu in the early non-touch Kindles allowed the page to be oriented in portrait, landscape and 180 of both. Stripped out when touch screen was introduced. Allow user to set the page orientation as they need to. So many times I have needed to flip the screen 180 degrees to be able to hold my Kindle case comfortably and the option is no longer there.
Always have page numbers – Matching to a printed book is cool but not having page numbers in all books is not. Nook and Kobo have page numbers. When I am debating purchase of a Kindle book, if it has page numbers I buy, if it doesn’t have page numbers I pass. (Keep out the /how many pages are in the book, just the page number please – or allow the options to be chosen in settings)
Change the lighting inside a book – slide up or down to increase or decrease the white light. On the other side of the page slide up or down to increase or decrease the orange light.
Page turn buttons on the traditional shape Kindle – both the Kindle Keyboard and original Basic Kindle K4/K5 have excellent page turn buttons. If Amazon doesn’t want another Kindle model, make buttons an option to have or not have on the Basic and Paperwhite models.
Return search options the way they used to display – search results were in a list, user could pick one and then use the back button to get back to the list and pick a different result. Much better than current implementation of arrowing through all results.
Back button – worked great for years. BRING IT BACK!!!!!