Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hands-on: Kindle for iOS gets iPad magazines, PDF support

?Tis the season for family, holiday cheer, and? iOS reader app updates? Just a couple of weeks after Apple?s iBooks got a huge update, Amazon has issued a big one for its Kindle app for both the iPhone and iPad. The biggest new feature ? digital magazines ? is exclusive to the iPad, but iPhone and iPod touch owners aren?t completely left out of the fun.

When the Kindle Fire launched last month, it included a magazine app that rivals that of the Nook Color and Nook Tablet. Many complained about mediocre (or worse) formatting on the 7-inch display, but it displayed magazines nonetheless. To be exact, it offers over 400 magazines, including Martha Stewart Living, Food Network Magazine, Men?s Health, and (our fellow Ziff Davis publication) PC Magazine.

Those same Kindle magazines are now on the iPad, and they work much better on the 9.7-inch display of Apple?s iPad. In our tests with the Kindle version of PC Magazine, the formatting was appropriate, with large, rich photos. It looked better in portrait (single page) mode, as landscape mode switches to a double-paged look, which made text look awfully tiny. If this teaches us anything, it?s that digital magazines are much better suited to 10-inch tablets than smaller 7-inch rivals like the Kindle Fire.

While magazines are exclusive to the iPad version of Kindle, another big addition is universal: PDF (and other) documents can now be imported and read on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. This has been available for Kindle devices for ages, but it?s a huge addition to the iPad app. You can import PDFs to Kindle by transferring through iTunes, opening from an email or Safari, or sending it to your personalized Kindle email address. Other documents can only be opened through iTunes or the Kindle email address.

While many other iPad apps already superbly handle PDFs (GoodReader, iBooks), Kindle is a welcomed app to add to that list. For PDF editions of long-form documents, public domain eBooks, or ? naughty, naughty ? pirated eBooks, these can now be organized along with your Kindle collection.

The updated Kindle app is available now in the App Store.


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