Google Android currently leads the entire mobile and tablet space and basically goes head to head against Apple for market share. Seven inch tablets and above often make the very best e-Readers due to the ability to display a solid amount of text on each page and offers enough room to read properly in portrait mode. There has been quite a number of new eBook reading apps released over the course of the last year, what ones are the best? Our Top 5 list encompasses not only the mainstream apps, but also the best ones for you to load in your own eBooks you have purchased from other stores or downloaded from the internet.
Aldiko continues to lead the current generation of Android Reading Apps for Tablets and does not disappoint on many levels. It reads fewer ebook types then rival applications but does the job effectively with EPUB and PDF books. You can even import books you have purchased from other stores which is very solid.
When you load Aldiko up you are greeted by a library few that gives you a very iBooks book shelf where all of the books are stored. You can import books via an SD Card or browse your devices memory. Since I have a Honeycomb tablet without the SD Card it was very easy to select books and begin reading right away or import them into my Aldiko Library Book Shelf.
When you are reading an ebook you have a few options right off the bat to customize your experience. You can switch to day and night mode which puts white text on a black screen or the main settings button. You can adjust options such as locking your orientation, setting up your brightness or adjusting your font/margins. I liked the basic features most people like to configure on the main menu without having to dive into countless sub-menus to accomplish the same thing. Most e-reading applications have extensive settings menu but Aldiko nails it right by having a more minimal interface for doing advanced options.
Aldiko has its own store portal which is a gateway to find out the latest New York Times Bestsellers and many other open source books. They also have links to other bookstores such as Smashwords, Books on Board and O'Reilly eBooks. There is quite a bit of selection here and its refreshing to have an app give you many different alternatives, rather then just its official partner.
I found the entire Aldiko experience for tablets to be spot on. There is no annoying stuttering when you flip pages on ebooks. Whether you are reading in landscape or portrait mode it is quite excellent. Aldiko continues to be updated and this is the app to beat for Android Tablets.
Moon+ Reader for Android is another application with a lush book shelf interface that greets you when you load up the application. There is also a handy automatic drive scanning utility that will look at your SD card and main memory and import books into the shelf. I liked the fact it scanned both and imported everything without any prompts, complete with cover art.
This handy ebook reading program reads a wide array of book types such as txt, html, epub, umd, fb2, chm, zip or OPDS.
When you are reading a book you are prompted to choose from 11 pre-installed themes that adjust the background, font and various brightness features depending on your environment. They have the generic day and night theme, but also different points of the day and even outdoors themes. It would have been better to use the ambient light sensors in tablets to automatically select the best theme for your environment.
By default when you turn pages there is an annonying page turn animation that emulates turning a page in a real book. This is much akin to the Apple iBooks or the Google Books functionality that lets you drag and peak by swiping the screen. This would not be so bad if it was quick, but even on my T-Mobile G-Slate which is a top of the line tablet, it lagged. Luckily there was a way to shut it off under one of the more extensive options.
Speaking of options, this program is brimming with them! It seriously allows you to tailor your experience with TONS of settings and configurations. Your settings are bunched into a few main menus such as Visual Options, Control Options, Misc, Themes, and More Operations. Under these various menus gives you more flexibility and control over your ebook experience. You can adjust font size, and chose between over 50 preloaded fonts to change your book to. There are countless more but this program is the most advanced we have reviewed in terms of pure variety of options.
In the end I really liked this program and it seems many other people do to. You can think of it as a more advanced version of Aldiko minus the store interface.
Kobo has the largest ebook ecosystem in the world with over 3.7 million books in its vast library. Unlike the competition, the entire selection of books can be purchased anywhere the world. Amazon and Barnes and Noble limits customer's purchases if they live in countries not officially supported. Speaking of support, Kobo is in more international markets than any other company in the world. It makes traveling and buying content anywhere fairly easy.
The main Kobo reading application allows you to do the same things as most other mainstream apps. You can adjust the line spacing, margins, fonts, font sizes, and even hit the publishers defaults if you made adjustments not up to par. The app will also automatically switch the orientation from landscape and portrait mode. Obviously, comics and graphic novels look WAY better in portrait mode, but landscape is solid for most other things.
One of the main things that makes Kobo stand out from anyone else on the market is Pulse. If you buy a book from Kobo, a little radar icon appears on the bottom of the book. If you click on it you can visit a dedicated screen that shows you how many people have read it, are in the process of reading, and what they thought. People can also leave comments and questions. In the past, Kobo has orchestrated authors answering fans' questions on Pulse. You can think of it as a virtual book club where people can talk about the book, life, universe, and everything.
When you do a long press on a specific word, you can pull up the definition of it. You have built in dictionaries that come bundled on the ARC, but you also pull up the Wikipedia entry and other Google Services. If you select more than one word you can take a note, highlight, or share it on your Facebook Timeline. One of the cool features is being able to choose what color you want to highlight. By default there are four different colors, which allow you color coordinate concepts.
Kobo Reading Life is something that really stands out from the competition. You can earn X-Box style awards and achievements for reading books. There are around 50 different ones currently in the system with new ones added all the time. You can share your awards with your friends and it adds a new dimension to the traditional reading experience. It might not be for everyone, but is just another facet that makes the company stand out in a cluttered market.
Finally, Kobo recently updated their apps to support EPUB3 and complex Asian characters. This allows graphic novels and eBooks in the Chinese and Japanese language look amazing.
Amazon is thought to control over 65% of the global eBook market and offers many incentives to buy into their ecosystem. They currently have around 1.3 million best sellers and self-published books.
The Amazon App for Android offers one of the best reading experiences for tablets out there. One of the best features is highlighting and working with notes. To highlight or to make a note, press and hold on a text area, and select an action from the sub-menu that will pop up. If you choose “Add Note,” the Android keyboard will appear, allowing you to enter your note. To highlight, select “Highlight” from the sub-menu and use your finger to highlight the text area you wish. These edits are saved and synced to your Kindle device.
Whispersync is also a fairly solid option that will allow you to pick up where you left off on another Kindle Reading app, such as their new Windows 8 app, or the Kindle e-Reader. It is fairly easy to stop reading on a certain page on your tablet and then pick it up where you left off on your smartphone.
Of course you can change the font size, linespacing, margins, font type, and even the background color. In most cases, reading on an Android tablet can get tedious on your eyes during long reading sessions. You can simply make the background black and text white, or change it to a number of softer colors.
One of the big advantages Amazon offers is via their Prime membership program. If you subscribe for $79 a year, not only do you get free shipping on anything you order, but you can borrow one free eBook a month from their Kindle Lending library. You can read tons of bestsellers, like the Hunger Games and not even have to buy the book. This is useful if you want to save money. If you want to save even more money, you can borrow eBooks from your local library using the Overdrive system. This is the only company that does business with Amazon and allows libraries to send Kindle Books directly to your tablet.
This application does not read many formats at all, mainly PDF and EPUB. Good thing most books on the internet are in these two formats, it does involve you converting books manually if they aren't.
This program does have an interesting interface that gives you the ability to choose between your library, lexicon, and Notes. The Notes option was cool because you could either write notes with the Android keyboard or write them via the touchscreen. You can easily save them and reference them on a later date. Lexicon was mainly just a dictionary function that you can look up words via various Google based online dictionaries.
The main function of this program again is to read books. The note taking feature is handy but the rest is a big waste of time. Turning pages is fast and effective, there is no stuttered found in some of the other programs we reviewed. The screen switches from landscape to portrait mode with no load time, it is instant.
There are many options and settings when you are reading a book and it was almost overwhelming. First of all you can do highlights, take notes, make bookmarks on any page of the book you are reading. Highlighting was cool because it was all color schemed with tons of choices available which would be good for students or people who make lots of notes and highlights.
One of the coolest aspects about this device was that it does text to speech! If you highlight words it will read the text back to you or just read the book to you. It actually reads the book to you in a clean and robust fashion. As the text is read back the book pages will actually turn, following the text. This is the most unique part of this application.
There is little to no options to change your fonts or anything like that, but you can change their size and lock the orientation.
This program is very simple in terms of not being able to change line spacing, margins, fonts, and many other common options. This may be a deal breaker for some people. I found the ability to do highlights, notes and a built in dictionary to be excellent. The fact most functions in this programs do not enamor me, but this read aloud function really made me love this program.
The Top 5 Best eReader apps for Android Tablets – 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News
Friday, March 15, 2013
Digital Comics are enjoying unparallelled growth, due to the proliferation of e-readers, tablets and new markets opening up on the world stage. Many traditional comic book companies are going into Overdrive offering many new features and enhancements to lure customers to their platform.
comiXology is currently one of the biggest comics distribution platform in the world. Marvel, DC, GI.Joe, Archie and many other top publications offer their digital franchises. Not only does comiXology have all of these companies comics in their own app, but the company also builds singular apps for these companies. So when you download the official Marvel app for Android, it is powered by comiXology.
Not only can you find mainstream comics but the company has recently unveiled their self-publishing platform, comiXology Submit. This allows indie comic artists and authors to submit their own single issues and graphic novels. These comics can be found side by side with all the normal best sellers, which helps with the discovery of hot new writers.
There is currently 6000 digital comics and over 700 free comics available. One of the big hyping factors behind their platform is their proprietary “Guided View” technology. It allows you isolate each frame as a singular entity, this negates the constant need to pinch and zoom.
Marvel Comics is one of the largest comic book publishing companies in the world and offer thousands of back issues and first run comics. The company has been doing a tremendous job over the last year, with releasing the digital editions, the same day as print.
Marvel is pioneering new technologies into its platform such as Augmented Reality, Project Gamma and Infinite Comics. The Disney owned company is tapping into the vast resources at their disposal to offer innovative new ways to read comics.
Infinite Comics are something Marvel introduced last year and chiefly comics that eschew the traditional page turns. Instead, a swipe may bring in new word balloons, a new panel, or a change in focus. Up until now, they have been one-offs tied in to print storylines, but now Marvel plans four 13-issue story arcs, starting with Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted, which will debut on July 9th. Marvel CEO Axel Alonso told CBR, What we're trying to do is deliver a comic book that first counts for the long term fan and they'll understand how it's woven into the continuity, and secondarily is exciting to the new or lapsed reader. We want to make sure we use all the bells and whistles and props available on this new canvass to excite people… At the end of the day, you're left with a very cinematic comics experience. There's a sense of motion that the new technology allows for that makes for a completely different experience, but the reader still controls the pace of that experience.”
Project Gamma will provide audio enhancements to Marvel comics in the form of a soundtrack or other audio cues and will only be available for select comics; in the CBR interview, Alonso allows that he was skeptical at first but added, "Who out there hasn't had that moment when you've been reading a comic book with your iPod on or the radio on, and you found that the music has changed your reading experience?" He called it an "adaptive experience" that will vary depending not only on the story but also the reader's pace and other factors.
Marvels Augmented Reality program really blends physical comics with the digital variants. The main premise of this new program is to bring the social aspect to another level within comic books. Select comic books will have the AR on the cover of the book, and if you scan it with your phone or tablet you can get a plethora of new content via its free app. These new apps will be available on Android and the iOS platform in the next few weeks. The content varies from comic to comic. In some cases you may get the editor giving you a rundown of what a particular story-arc is all about, or even videos by the writers. For now, Marvel AR is only in the printed comics and the company intends to gauge the success to see if a digital followup is warranted.
The essence of Marvel AR is to stimulate sales and bring the sociological aspect to another level. In most graphic novels these days issued by the company you see a number of features towards the end of the book. The writers, editors, and artists often comment on the main aspects of the book, and even have a scene by scene breakdown. The new digital aspect will save room on the printed version and give people a way to access the content online.
A Comic Viewer was formerly known as Droid Comic Viewer by Robot Comics. It is hands-down the best comic-viewing app for any Android user. The app is quite powerful and is compatible with CBZ/ZIP, ACV, CBR/RAR (beta), JPEG, PNG, BMP & image folders. The Droid Comic Viewer has a number of options to properly tailor your comic experience and supports a wide array of multi-touch options. You can use gestures to zoom in on specific panels and jump from page to page. One of the things I liked was the auto bookmark feature that brings you back to the page you left off on when you exit the application and then open it again at a later date. Over 250,000 users have downloaded this application and it is the reader of choice when it comes to reading comics and manga on your tablet.
This is another one of the top Android comic reading applications and has a simple interface to browse your SD card or internals of your tablet. You can create your own bookshelves and create bookmarks to pick up where you left off. It reads many formats that are quite common in comics downloaded from various websites. It currently reads BZ/ZIP,CBR/RAR,7Z/CB7(No solid mode),LZH and JPEG,PNG,GIF,BMP. What probably sets this app apart from other Android comic viewers, like the Droid Comic Viewer, is the sheer amount of options that would make many comic viewers happy. It has over 5 view modes, various smooth filters, full choice of page start positions, a bookshelf feature, bookmarking, favorites, and a "set as" wallpaper option. The option I liked the most was the ability to switch between landscape and portrait mode within the program. You then have a dedicated series of new options for each orientation.
Dark Horse is well known in the geek circles for its niche library of comics. One of the most popular franchises it owns is the Buffy the Vampire Hunter Series which is based on the television show and features the expanded universe. They also print a copious amount of Star Wars content, pumping out six different series a month. Finally they have manga, anime and things like Hellboy, Sin City, The Goon, Criminal Macabre and Empowered.
The company started its same day digital comics initiative in 2011, where it releases the digital version the same day as the printed variants. Their Android app has undergone a ton of revisions during the last few months, which pushed it onto our top 5 list. Anything you download can be stored in the cloud and accessed via the web, or the companies Android, iOS, Windows 8 or other apps.
Microsoft never made public how many of its Surface tablet devices found buyers since they were launched, though unofficial estimates are painting a rather grim picture of the tablet’s sales record. Three people privy to the company’s sales claim Microsoft has sold little over a million of its Surface RT device, while in reality the Surface Pro only managed to entice about 400,000 buyers. In stark contrast, Apple’s iPad range went in for 22.9 million sales in the quarter ending December 2012.
The Surface tablet series marks Microsoft’s first attempt at mainstream tablet hardware, and is being touted as the best series of devices to showcase the company’s computing solution in the new age. It is interesting that the Surface Pro sales numbers were being ignored to portray the Surface tablet as a hit with consumers. Most of the stores carrying the Surface Pro resorted to flashing the ‘Sold Out’ signs soon after it was launched, leading many to believe it has garnered great support from its intended business clientele. That is clearly not the case if the above sales figures are indeed true. At least Microsoft has been putting more effort towards making the Surface tablets available in more markets, which will add some more to the sales figures.
While the Surface RT suffered from the lack of sufficient apps that would make owning the device a worthwhile experience, a price revision to make it more affordable could generate some buzz around the device. In contrast, the Surface Pro is being touted as the device that can be both a tablet and a laptop replacement, though this may be what drowned the device. The market does not seem to be ready for such a hybrid tablet/notebook just yet, and the high price tag and low battery life of the Surface Pros helped lead to its lukewarm response. Both the Surface tablet variants already score on quality, though a price cut for the Surface RT and a hard keyboard cover for the Surface Pro with a built-in battery that won’t add to the tablet’s cost might bring the Surface tablets right back in the game.
Books on Tape (BOT) and Listening Library, both divisions of Random House, have been producing top-notch audiobooks for adults and children since 1975. Now, for the first time, the publishers are offering more than 3,500 audiobook titles in MP3 format. The availability of MP3 format extends the reach of these bestselling BOT and Listening Library audiobooks, making it easy for users to access the titles on Mac, iPod, iPhone and Android devices, as well as PCs, smartphones and tablets.
Pick from patron favorites like “Unbroken,” Laura Hillenbrand’s inspiring story of survival during World War II, or ”Liar & Spy” by Newbery-Medal Winner Rebecca Stead, which will keep listeners guessing until the end.
Annie Suhy is a Merchandising Specialist at OverDrive.
"Fintan O’Toole, a journalist from The Irish Times, launched the project in 2011 with a series of newspaper columns highlighting 100 objects from Ireland, the UK and Norway that connect with Ireland’s rich past," writes Joe Zeff, whose design firm produced the app, in a blog post from Adobe. "Those columns became a hardcover book, and that book became the series of apps that we designed and developed for multiple platforms using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite."
This plan to work with Adobe paid off for the RIA, as the app is now seamlessly formatted for all mobile devices on the iOS and Android platform. What is particularly interesting about the creation of this app–and hopefully of many more apps to come from a variety of historical sources–is that formatting it for smartphones makes it possible for museum patrons to use the app while touring museums and historical collections, benefiting from the abundance of information available through video and audio narration.
The app is free for download until March 31, 2013 and is a project of the Royal Irish Academy, the National Museum of Ireland and The Irish Times supported by the Presidency of the European Council of the European Union and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland. Download the iPad/iPhone app, the Kindle Fire app, or the Android tablet app here.
To preview a video of the app, go to https://vimeo.com/60563627
This is brilliant. Livebots is a project which allows you to control a robot (powered by the Pi, of course) over the internet. Follow the link, or watch this rather excellent video to see what’s going on.
You’ll be using buttons in the browser to send Python instructions to the robots via their serial ports. The robots are available to control depending on which of them is online at the moment you visit. There’s a robot with googly eyes, one that does ballet poses and urinates (!), and plenty of LEDs to flash on and off.
Detailed instructions on adding your own robot to the collection are available at Instructables. We are torn between our love for the breakdancing robot and for the creepy robotic hand. It’s up to you to add some more so we can do some more arguing about which is our favourite.
Eben met Alex from RasPi.tv earlier this week, and was given this rather fantastic flag-waving kit for our demo table. (If you’ve got something you think we could use in demos at schools, in talks, and when we chat to the press, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re always looking for new kit to show off.)
This demo is something you can very easily set up yourself at home, if you’re interested in learning how to use servos. Alex’s setup means you won’t require any expansion boards – you’ll be ready to go with just a servo (very cheap from your local electronics shop – Alex’s cost him £3), some wire, some batteries and a few bits of wood.
And a flag.
Instructions are at RasPi.tv – if you make your own, please send us some video!
While Google is planning the last rites of its Reader service which is slated to go offline on June 1, frantic efforts are already on to fill the void. Among the prominent to rise to the occasion is Digg that has stated they have started on having a replacement service ready by the time Google Reader is off air. The familiar news aggregation service though has stated they were already working on developing such a thing for a release towards second half of this year. Google’s announcement has only provided more impetus to their efforts though they have called for more help to make it realize its goal.
As Digg General Manager Jake Levine puts it: “Digg is about helping people find, read and share the most interesting stories on the Internet. We help to distill the overwhelming volume of stories on the web into a manageable and digestible experience. Building a reader matches these goals perfectly. Plus, our team uses it every day and we need a good replacement!”
Google’s decision to do away with its Reader service has come as a rude surprise for RSS fans worldwide. While a lot of RSS fans all over the world didn’t like the idea can be gauged from the almost incessant stream of comments that Google’s move has sparked. This clearly proves there does exist a demand for a Reader like service and while it might not have earned Google what it had set out to achieve, it leaves others to cash in on its absence. Digg is all to aware of it and has stated they intend to have in place a replacement service that would replicate many of the features that had made Google Reader famous. This includes retaining the Google Reader’s API but will include news features that will make its service relevant in the age of social networking and other such communities like Tumblr, and Reddit and so on.
“We've been planning to build a reader in the second half of 2013, one that, like Digg, makes the Internet a more approachable and digestible place. After Google's announcement, we're moving the project to the top of our priority list,” revealed Digg's Andrew McLaughlin.
Amazon is mulling changes in its component purchasing strategy that it has been following so far for the Kindle Fire tablets. So far, Amazon has been relying almost entirely on the ODMs for this though that could change with Amazon likely to place itself in a position to be calling all the shots. However, all of it is still in rumor territory with neither Amazon nor its upstream supply chain partners willing to spill the beans just yet. The Taiwan based Quanta Computer and Compal Electronics are the two upstream ODM partners of Amazon with the former being the largest manufacturer of the Kindle Fire tablet series.
However, the ramifications could be far reaching if this turns out to be true. For as sources have mentioned, supply chain managements happens to be the trickiest aspect for content suppliers to deal with in the hardware manufacturing industry. Also, what ODM partners fear is that their margins will be affected once their clients begin to purchase the components themselves. All of this could come into effect with the new Kindle Fire that is slated for an April debut followed by a commercial release in May.