The iPad has been around for long enough now to give both iBooks and the Amazon Kindle app a thorough testing. We felt that we need to read a few novels, and spend some serious hands on time with each platform to gauge a proper feel of the behaviour of both efforts.
And, after much discussion, we have decided that the best ebook reading app on the iPad, and today's App of The Day, is....
The Amazon Kindle app is much more than just a standalone app, and that's why it's Pocket-lint's ebook reading app of choice by a considerable margin. Yes, the user interface is fantastic and the usability is without rival, but it's the fact that it brings in your whole Kindle family together that makes it such a worthy champion.
With Amazon's Whispersync technology, you'll have access to your Kindle account, and therefore any books you have downloaded, across the whole Kindle platform range which includes not only the Kindle devices themselves but also apps on the iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry handsets, Windows Phone 7 devices, and both Windows and Mac PCs. And it won't just sync your titles, the technology will even remember the last page you were on in a particular book (and a whole load more).
But what of the iPad app, how does it stand up as an app in its own right? In a word - brilliantly. It's a fantastic ebook reading app, with some incredibly intuitive features and a UI that thrives on the iPad's display. Sure, some people just can't stand the thought of reading for long periods of time on a backlit screen, but if you're not one of those people, then this is about as good as a tablet ebook reading experience is going to get.
Your home page contains thumbnails (or lists if you'd prefer) of all of the titles that you've purchased or downloaded within your own Kindle existence, and you can choose the ones you wish to download and physically store on your device. You can delete a book when you're done with it, safe in the knowledge that you can always re-download that title from your account at no extra cost.
When reading books you are presented with a number of display options, including six different sized text standards, as well as a choice of three page colours - black on white, sepia, or white on black.
You also get plenty of navigation options, including links to the cover, contents page, specific locations, your personal notes and marks, and your bookmarks (you bookmark a page with a button in the top right hand corner). All of these options are hidden until you tap the screen to reveal them.
With page turning you have a choice of a simple swipe or the animated, and very accurate, page turning animations which we have to admit become a bit of a novelty after a while.
Another big win for the iPad version of Kindle is that it supports audio and video within the ebooks. This, along with coloured illustrations, actually make it a more enticing proposition than the actual Kindle devices for super-keen multimedia fans.
Just like on your Kindle device, you can highlight text, make notes and get dictionary definitions - but you can also get more info from the web by doing a Google or Wikipedia search on a highlighted term or phrase.
These features chuck you out of the app though, and into your iPad's Safari browser, as does the “Shop in Kindle Store” option from your front-screen, that simply throws you straight into your local Amazon store. If we had a criticism of the Kindle app, it's that we'd like this to be done within the app, using a mini-browser in the same fashion that the Twitter app works. However, with iOS 4.2 knocking at the door, packing multitasking for the iPad, then this won't really be much of an issue (if the Amazon boffins knock out a multi-task supported version, which we expect they will).
This lack of an in-app browser is just a very small downside to what is an absolutely brilliant app. The fact that you can get the app for nothing, and fill your account with incredible literature for nothing as well makes it a must. And, with Kindle premium titles often much cheaper than their paper-based counterparts, you might even save money if you decide to spend money - if you see what we mean.
In short - if you don't mind reading for long periods of time using a backlit screen, then get the Amazon Kindle app today. You will not be disappointed.