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Using the Amazon Kindle app as your go-to reading application just got a whole lot more useful due to version 4.6′s enhancements. The only addition not available to everyone is immersive full-screen mode as that is a capability that launched with Android 4.4 KitKat. Everything else is fair game and most of it is simplification changes. For example, the screen orientation lock can be toggled by tapping the bottom right corner of a page. The system brightness can be accessed through the reader’s settings. And audio playback can be controlled from the lock screen of the device.

Hit the break for download links.

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Come comment on this article: Amazon Kindle app update includes full-screen viewing for KitKat devices and a few other goodies for everyone else

Marvel offering 1st month promo to read over 15,000 comics

Posted by wicked July - 24 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

How much would you pay to have unlimited access to over 15,000 digital comics for a month? The folks over at Marvel, in preparation for the massive San Diego Comic Con happening next week, have decided that all it should cost you is just $0.99. Yes, that’s not a typo, that really is just a very special offer for the first month of new subscribers to Marvel Unlimited, their massive digital library.

For a whole month, you will be able to access all the comics available in their library. So that means over 15,000 comics, from classics like the Golden and Silver Age comics, to titles that were just released six months ago. Of course, just like the other digital subscription services, you’re not actually getting a digital copy of the comics, but you are paying to view them. But don’t worry, you get to have offline viewing as well, up to 12 comics at a time.

Although most of the comics in the library are just digital versions of the print edition, Marvel Unlimited is also now offering experimental content for the digital format. The Infinite Comics series for example, was designed to be read on bigger screens, not just your mobile devices. There are also behind-the-scenes content for several comics, including The Avengers. Captain America: Winter Soldier, which inspired the recent film, has adaptive audio for the six-issue series, which means as you swipe through the panels, you’ll hear sounds, just as you would in a video game. As you go through the comics, the background music and sound effects change as well.

A Marvel Unlimited subscription costs around $9.99 per month or $69 a year, so this $0.99 a month initial offer is something comic book fans shouldn’t miss. If you can, just hibernate for a month just to read as many comics as you can. Or this month can even convince you that the regular monthly fee is actually worth it.

VIA: Wired

Comixology users say purchases made with Google, Apple now gone [UPDATE]

Posted by wicked April - 28 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

The move away from Google and Apple purchasing int he Comixology app has ignited a few hurt feelings. Amazon has removed all outside in-app payment options, instead focussing on PayPal to allow users to make purchases. Many users are now reporting that some or all of their older purchases made with the abandoned purchase options have disappeared entirely.


Via The Digital Reader, we find many users taking to Twitter to complain about lost purchases. In some cases, a few comics were missing. In another instance, the entire back catalog from 2013 had vanished. Users are having trouble even verifying purchases made in the app because, you know, no comics and no payment options used to make them.

Android users can simply log-in to their Google Wallet accounts to view in-app purchases made when it was available in Comixology. If you have purchases, and they’re not showing up, it may be a good time to contact Comixology and/or Amazon.

Some users are also noting the “Buy Next Issue” button is gone, suggesting the changeover to a new payment solution hasn’t been smooth. Though the end result is more profit for Amazon, who now avoid paying Apple and Google a 30% cut for in-app purchases, limited functionality and deleted comics are just not okay. We’ll hope this is a simple bug that is rectified quickly, but we suggest anyone affected keep in contact with Amazon and Comixology.

[UPDATE] A comiXology spokesperson reached out in order to clarify the situation. While not entirely denying the issue, it seems that the problem has been reported mostly by iOS users, specifically those that have books tied to more than one comiXology account or use a separate iTunes account or didn’t properly restore their purchases (available in the app’s settings). Of course, comiXology has its doors open for any and all technical difficulties. Given how the situation has drastically changed for iOS users, more than for Android users, its not surprising to see a few disgruntled customers raising their voices at bumps encountered during this transition period.

Via: The Digital Reader

Not a fan of Flipboard? Here are three alternative reading apps

Posted by wicked March - 6 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Not a fan of Flipboard? With their acquisition of Zite, another big reader app was taken out of the mix. If you don’t really like the magazine page-flipping style of Flipboard, there are other alternatives. Depending on how you find and consume content, one (or more!) of these might do the trick.

Newsstand

When Google rolled Currents into their new Newsstand app, it showed the app’s aim. We liked currents, but it was a bit clumsy. Rolling it into Newsstand livened it up in regard to functionality. The utility of Currents stayed, though.

Newsstand has both Magazines (subscription, obviously) and My News (Currents, more or less). The latter is your Flipboard competitor, and asks that you curate your own feeds — just like Flipboard. The difference is interface, which we find to be snappier and easier to navigate. It all happens via the slide-out menu from the left, and familiar “back” key up top. We really like the interface, too — simple, clean, and lets us scroll rather than flip.

Newsstand AC

Feedly

Feedly replaced Google Reader for many of us, and it remains one of the better ways to consume information quickly. Though we think of RSS feeds as pretty boring, like a dull hammer, Feedly is a nice alternative. The interface is neat, and it works across platforms. A little bonus here is that it will use your Google+ as a sign-in, so you won’t have to remember yet another password.

More than any other on this list, Feedly allows for a lot of customization. You can choose to see headlines or more robust text/pictures in the main stream, and even toy with how you navigate the app and articles. Feedly also keeps with the new Android styling and slide-out menu, so it looks as good as it functions. We’re a big fan of double-tap to close an article, so give that a shot when you’re knee-deep in settings.

There is also a function to share to your favorite reading service (like the next on our list) or favorite social site with one tap. Feedly can be conjured to work just how you want it to, and lets you consume more info in a shorter time than anything else. There is a Feedly Pro, which is a bit expensive for the average reader among us, but a good option for information junkies. If you’re an avid consumer or info, Feedly might be your go-to, here.

Feedly AC

Pocket

Though Pocket has no “feed” to speak of, we like it for a few reasons. The app works by saving items shared to it for offline use and viewing later. It’s great for those times you come across an interesting article or video, but just don’t have time to check it out. It’s also great for being avaiable across platforms, and there’s even a Chrome extension and OS X app for it, which saves items to Pocket quickly and easily. Two views keep it simple, and the reading interface is a pure joy. Again, a Google+ log-in keeps it simple.

Pocket AC

One thing we find really neat about Pocket is the option to switch to web view rather than the stripped-down reading mode. Say a picture didn’t load properly, and it needs to be seen to make sense of the article. Just pop into web view, and you’ll see it as the Internet intended, all without leaving the app. Pretty sublime.

You can also choose which topics you want to read by tagging them. There are no folders to tuck topics away to, but you can tag them. We will admit the tagging feature is a bit cumbersome (you have to enter list view before tagging, and it’s much easier via the Chrome extension), but it works once you get it down. Sharing from Chrome mobile is nice, and Pocket seems to work with jsut about any app we’ve run across. For picking up where you left off, Pocket is fantastic.

Pocket Web AC

Conclusion

We were big fans of Zite, but Flipboard? Not so much. It’s a bit clumsy for quick reading, asking for more of a sit-down-and-read type of lifestyle, which doesn’t suit us most times. We don’t hate Flipboard, per se, but we’re not crazy about it. These three apps are meant to be alternatives, but could also serve to round out your Flipboard experience (if you’re a fan).

These three apps also represent different ways of consuming media. Newsstand is more like Flipboard to our mind, it just doesn’t ask that you “flip”. Feedly is great for consuming content quickly, while Pocket is wonderful for getting back to an article or video without having to remember where it was that you found it. If you have a suggestion for a reading app you like, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know which is your favorite.

Three quick and easy ways to reduce data usage on your Android device

Posted by wicked February - 18 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

With shared or tiered data plans fast becoming the new normal, many of us will want to find ways to maximize the small pool of data we draw from. Though we typically don’t use more than 2GB monthly, there is a glass ceiling. After the limit, it’s usually pretty expensive to get past it.


You can maximize your data, though. With a few easy tricks, you might find yourself living comfortably in the field of data your carrier offers you. These tricks can also be helpful if you have a data throttling limit, where you get severely reduced speeds after a predetermined limit.

Bandwidth Management in Chrome

In Chrome, there is an opt-in for Bandwidth management. Doing so can greatly reduce the data you use within Chrome, saving you a ton of data. As you can see from the picture above, though I don’t use Chrome a lot while mobile, the reduction in data used is noticeable. To scale, that could end up saving you a lot of data, which counts against your plan.

If you’re not prompted to sign up for the service, go to Chrome > Settings > Advanced > Bandwidth Management. You should see an option for Bandwidth Management. If you don’t see the option, try downloading Chrome Beta — it’s definitely there.

Bandwidth Management Chrome AC2

Maps & Location Services

If you’re traveling, data roaming can be a concern on top of the imposed limitations. You probably don’t want to leave your phone behind, but you still want to get around — and use Maps to do so. With Google Maps, you can save maps for offline use, which could save you a ton of data use.

For the newer versions of Google Maps (6.1 and above), saving a map for offline us is really simply. When you have the area on the screen you want saved, just type “ok maps” into the search bar, and it will start the cache process. If you don’t have time or the ability to type, just tap the search field on the map, and scroll down to the bottom (seen below), where you’ll find the option to save the area on your screen for offline use.

Once saved, you can access the saved map from the regular mobile maps interface. Just scroll over to the place you have saved, and zoom in. It gives you an area around your saved location as well, so don’t worry about venturing a bit off the beaten path.

Google Maps Offline AC

Reading offline

You find a cool article while at home, and dedicate yourself to pick it up while on the train or waiting for a doctor appointment. When you do that, you’re using data, unless you use one of the tricks for offline use. By saving an article to an offline reading app, you can enjoy plenty of reading while on-the-go, all without having to soak up data.

We like Instapaper, because it lets you create folders for cataloging articles. The interface is also dead simple and clean, making it a joy to flip through. Others like Evernote or Pocket are equally as useful, though. Just make sure any app you want to use has an offline reading function, and you’re on your way.

When you find an article, be it in Chrome or other apps like Zite, simply save it to the reading app of your choice. With Android, most dedicating reading apps have a sharing function that is automatically added. If you’re an avid reader, or want to read while you have some downtime in the wild, this is a must-have.

Instapaper Reader AC

Conclusion

Though these aren’t the only ways to save a bit of data, they are some of the easiest. They also represent functions that will show an immediate impact, if you use these services. Chrome is one of the better served here, as it is used for quite a bit more than you might think. Offline Maps is also really neat, especially if you’re in an area that has poor reception — be it traveling or in your home city.

One thing to keep in mind is that with Maps and your reading habits, it’s best to save those when you have WiFi available. By saving things for offline use while on WiFi, then accessing them later, you’re using almost no data at all. That’s called ‘sticking it to the carrier’!

Reading digitally gains in popularity, but print is still king

Posted by wicked January - 16 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

When it comes to reading, the choices are increasingly diverse. Print books are still alive and kicking, but eBooks are also popular. Though some prefer the romance of picking up an actual paper book, an increasing number of us are reading digitally. Even with eReading growing quickly, it still has a long way to go before actually killing off print entirely.

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A new study shows that when it comes to reading in 2013, 69% of US citizens read a print book. A respectable 28% read an eBook, with 76% of us claiming to have read a book in any format. Given the breakout there, it seems there is about a 20% overlap where readers just want to read. The research was done between January 2-5 of this year, and surveyed 1,005 adults in the US.

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The overall numbers hold fairly steady year-to-year, but electronic reading is steadily growing in popularity. Of those surveyed, only 4% admit to going totally electronic. With the advent of devices like the Kindle, eReading has gained quite a bit in popularity. Where it really finds utility is in apps — like the Kindle — which span devices, and allow users to pick up where they left off on another device.

Though not living up to the prophecy that eBooks will kill paper off entirely, there is a change of both attitudes and delivery. Recently, Amazon offered users the option to switch their purchased paper books to Kindle editions free, or at a discount. Apps and ecosystems like Kindle’s serve a purpose a book never can, and that’s tying you into their ecosystem.
VIA: The Next Web

Reading Trainer – an educational app to improve reading speed & comprehension

Posted by wicked December - 17 - 2012 - Monday Comments Off

Reading Trainer – an educational app to improve reading speed & comprehension
Reading Trainer is a beautifully designed and extremely useful education app that helps you improve your reading. Now, before you contest “but I can read already! What do you think I’m doing right now!?” this is very much about improvement, so it concentrates on increasing reading speed and comprehension. If you typically read a lot [...]

Reading Trainer – an educational app to improve reading speed & comprehension is a post from: AndroidTapp.com

Thumbelina:3D Popup Book. Educational & fun audio book app with ‘popup’ pages for children

Posted by wicked November - 22 - 2012 - Thursday Comments Off

Thumbelina:3D Popup Book. Educational & fun audio book app with ‘popup’ pages for children
Thumbelina:3D Popup Book is a educational and fun reading application for children. In addition to the story text you get a variety of ‘popup’ elements to the app where children can interact with the story, perform small tasks and help the main character throughout the narrative. It’s a fun twist on the standard audio book/educational [...]

Thumbelina:3D Popup Book. Educational & fun audio book app with ‘popup’ pages for children is a post from: AndroidTapp.com



Barnes & Noble rolls out updated Nook reading app

Posted by wicked October - 3 - 2012 - Wednesday Comments Off

Barnes & Noble has updated its official Android app today, bringing several new features like improved fonts, zooming for comic books, a full dictionary and a much-needed fix for pre-ordering directly from the application. This new and improved version comes just a week after the company announced its new Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets. So, if you’re a reading junkie and can’t seem to get your e-book fix from Google or Amazon’s offerings, hit the download link after the break.

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Play Store Download Link



Kobo unveils the Kobo Arc powered by Android 4.0, prices starting at £160

Posted by wicked September - 6 - 2012 - Thursday Comments Off

Android phones and tablets news:

Android Central

Kobo has today officially unveiled their latest attempt at a 7-inch reading focused tablet, the Kobo Arc, which is the successor to last years Gingerbread powered Vox. The Kobo Arc is a much different proposition to the Vox, and will come running fully Google certified Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The Arc will also be reasonably well priced for a device of this nature, starting at just £159.99.

The Arc is more more design focused than the Vox, and packs more impressive hardware. Powering everything from within is a 1.5GHz dual-core TI OMAP processor, and 1GB of RAM. The 7-inch screen is a 1280×800 IPS panel with a pretty respectable PPI of 215. There's no rear camera on the Arc, but there is a front facing 720p HD 1.3MP camera and a microphone, so video conferencing is a definite possibility. Connectivity is WiFi only, but the Arc is WiFi Direct capable. Rounding out the hardware is a pair of stereo speakers on the front of the device, and in partnership with SRS home entertainment technology volume and sound quality is increased with the function turned on. Battery life is pegged at 10 hours of reading or watching videos with the WiFi off, with standby time of around 2 weeks. 

So, the specs are nice. Not ground-breaking, but a definite mark up from the previous Vox. Hardware only tells half the tale though, it's in the software that Kobo is looking to be a little different to the norm. Kobo has designed their own custom interface that they call Tapestries, which is focused on organizing your content into easy to manage chunks — or Tapestries. We got a look at the device, and the Tapestries interface back at IFA 2012 in Berlin, and it has some interesting features within. 

The back story first though. Kobo has decided upon their design based around a principle of tablet use — they're being used to consume content, be that books, videos, music etc. The UI of more traditional Android tablets is somewhat focused more around applications. Kobo wanted to focus on content, and so Tapestries was born. It's all about creating a personal experience on the Arc, and all about the users content. 

As a content focused UI, applications are kept away from being front and center. Instead, the UI gives us a long scrolling wall to fill with content, and the main view shows off all your created Tapestries — think of them as folders, but folders that open up a whole new home screen. Kobo has included some stock tapestries to organize some basic content such as reading, social media interactions, and entertainment, but the user can create one based around any kind of content they wish. App shortcuts and widgets are still usable as with traditional Android tablets, but it allows for total customization and organization of all your topic specific content.  And it was all developed in house by the Kobo team. 

Kobo hasn't forgotten too their reading roots. Integrated into the web browser is a "distraction and ad free reading experience." By partnering with Readability, the Arc's web browser has a reading mode that will just show you the juicy text on a web page. The fonts used are all customized to look best on the Arc's display, and from within this view online content can be pinned to any Tapestry for reading later. It doesn't have offline capabilities however, so you will still need to be connected to WiFi. 

The final area of the UI worth noting is the discover area occupying the bottom portion of the display. This learns about the content that you consume, and will start to make suggestions for you. It can even make suggestions based on topics contained within the text of a book. No personal information is given to any services, everything is managed in the cloud by Kobo. 

Kobo's social reading features  from the Vox have also made their way on to the Arc. Pre-loaded apps include Facebook, Twitter, Skype, 7Digital and Rdio, along with the full suite of Google apps including the Play Store. It is expected to be available in November at £159.99 ($200) for the 8GB version, and £189.99 ($250) for the 16GB and will be available globally through existing Kobo retail partners. Black and white versions will be available, along with different colored interchangable rear covers. 

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