BY SEAN CLARK
I’m going to keep this one pretty short. Basically it boils down to this: If you have a Kindle, this is a handy companion app that syncs to your Amazon.com account and allows you to pick up in your books wherever you left off on your Kindle if you find yourself without it. If you don’t have a Kindle there is no reason for you to use this program (unless, perhaps, you plan on buying a Kindle and can’t wait to get your Amazon DRM library started).
The program itself is pretty bare boned. You can choose between five text sizes, you can set bookmarks, and it syncs easily with you Amazon account. Besides that there is nothing else. No landscape view or gesturing*; no modifying fonts or background colors. I don’t know much about the Kindle format, but I’m guessing these sort of options aren’t programmed in to the files as they aren’t necessary on the main device. Obviously you can’t upload any files besides those in the Kindle format, which is why this app is really only for Kindle users (Manybooks.net and other offer Kindle formatted ebooks, but I couldn’t figure out how to upload them to my Amazon account and sync them with the app. I suspect you need an actual Kindle, and I hope this doesn’t cost you poor saps the $.10 email attachment fee to load them).
Despite the lack of customization, the text does loot pretty good on the screen. The format handles text resizing nicely, although the center justification makes the larger sized text look a bit weird. Some more size options would be nice. You’d have to be blind as a bat to need to read at any of the sizes besides the smallest. The largest seriously hold about a sentence on the iPhone’s screen.
The Whispersync appears to work quite nicely. I sent some sample chapters to my phone from Amazon.com and they showed up instantly. I didn’t have to deal with any hocus pocus, just put in my Amazon account name and password when I fist opened the app, and from then on “Sean’s iPhone” shows up in the delivery dropdown in the Kindle store. I don’t have a Kindle, so I’m not quite sure how quickly bookmarks made on one device sync with the files on the other, but I’d be curious to know (feel free to post impressions below).
Amazon hasn’t trumpeted this app (and it’s coming soon to other mobile devices as well, if it hasn’t arrived already) quite as much as I’d expected them too, but if you have a Kindle and you haven’t heard of this freebie, you should get it. If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t mistake this for some Kindle-like iPhone app. It’s a sidekick and nothing more.
[Correction: pages are turned with swipe gestures. -sc]