App Review 1 [Books]

29 Apr 2011

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of my iPad. At work, I’ll often mention that it has been out of arm’s reach maybe half a dozen times in the ten months I’ve owned it. While the device itself is fantastic, the reason that I’ve become so enamoured with my iPad is because of the plethora of Apps available. And in honour of picking up my iPad 2, I’ve decided to sit down and give reviews for everything that is currently on my iPad. Each review will be posted in the App Store and I’ll include a rating from 1-to-5 stars.


iBooks
Category: Books
Developer: Apple Inc.
Rating: * * * * *

As an avid reader, iBooks might be the primary reason I’ve come to love my iPad so much. Reading with it is easy. Swiping or tapping to flip pages makes sense. I can easily change the brightness or font (and font size) on the screen. I can easily track my progress within a chapter or a whole book. OR I can hide all of these features with a simple tap. Bookmarking is useful for saving your place while sticky-notes and highlighting both help mark significant portions (and are automatically added to a “Bookmarks” table of contents).

The ability to search for books and sort into collections has made keeping a eBook library manageable. I can now keep separate shelves for different genres or purposes. To make it even more useful, I’d love if I could easily link books in a series so that they didn’t have to be named chronologically in order to keep them together.

Shakespeare
Category: Books
Developer: Readdle
Rating: * * * *

What iBooks does for reading books, the Shakespeare app does for plays–specifically (and obviously) Shakespeare’s plays. It breaks them down, act-by-act and scene-by-scene, keeping it easy enough to follow the script. Scene breakdowns. A full-fledged search. Easily manipulatable, like iBooks, it’s my go-to for everything of the bard.

Note: I haven’t upgrade to Pro and I don’t see myself doing it any time soon: some random portraits; a glorified quotes section; and scansion, which I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t recall enough of high-school english to know about. The high cost ($9.99) for what I see as a limited feature set is what keeps this app from being perfect.

Bible
Category: Reference
Developer: LifeChurch.tv
Rating: * * * * *

I’m not going to pretend to know all the books of the Bible, let alone chapter-and-verse. But I’m a writer and sometimes I need (read: want) to get down to the particulars. This app has every earthly translation out there which is a reference-junkie’s dream. Again, like iBooks or Shakespeare, easily searchable. Again, easily manipulatable. And, again, broken down.

Comics
Category: Books
Developer: comiXology
Rating: * * * *

Coming to comics later in my life than seemed entirely appropriate to be reading comics, I thought I had maligned myself to keeping up on the particulars through Wikipedia and catching the occasional “important” release. Fortunately for me, Comics gives me an opportunity to read and collect, without having to explain myself to anyone but myself (and whoever happens to be reading over my shoulder).

I can’t tell you whether Comics reinvents the comic book experience. I can’t tell you whether something about the nature of comic books is lost in the translation. What I can tell you is that this app gives me as much freedom as I want to enjoy the beautiful artwork and well-written stories–and then re-enjoy them without fear of staining them with chocolate milk.

The only reason this app doesn’t get full marks from me is because, after some update, it went and deleted all the comics that I purchased. They’re easy enough to get again, so I don’t particularly mind and I assume that it doesn’t happen every update–I confess to having dropped off on reading comics lately, in favour of catching up on my reading.

Marvel Comics
Category: Books
Developer: Marvel Entertainment Rating: * * * *

Hey look. It’s Comics app from comiXology except it has Marvel’s library. Four stars, only because I approve of comiXology’s app and this is the exact same app. If the library sucks, at least you can enjoy what’s there.

Stanza
Category: Books
Developer: Lexcyle Rating: * * * * *

Honestly, choosing between Stanza and iBooks isn’t about anything more than favouring the app that I used first. I liked the bit of Stanza that I played with, but I didn’t see any particular reason to choose it over iBooks. It has a bit more functionality in formatting and a bit easier to determination your location in the book, but also certainly more function over form. If iBooks up-and-disappeared, switching to Stanza wouldn’t be a problem for me to use instead.