Who needs a separate e-book reader when your mobile phone does the trick? For the last few days, we’ve been putzing around with our new iPhone 3G and a handful of apps from the App Store. Some of the best, so far: E-reader apps for reading books, blogs, offline Web pages, etc. These include:
- Instapaper, which brings Tumblr dude Marco Arment’s simple “read later” service to the iPhone. Actually, it’s much better on the iPhone than any other platform, since it doesn’t just bookmark your stories, but downloads them so you can read them when you’re offline.
- Stanza, a free e-reader app with built-in access to a huge library of free books/short stories, from “Anna Karenina” to “Paradise Lost,” and some newer titles, too, like Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow’s “I, Robot.”
- NetNewsWire, a decent port — not great — of the popular Web-based RSS reader.
- Byline, a $9.99 app to access your Google Reader RSS feeds.
- NYTimes, which lets you synch up NYT stories to read later.
These apps alone — introduced in the first week the App Store has been available — already fill most of our reading-on-the-go needs. There’s also a bunch of e-books on sale for 99 cents, though we haven’t tried them yet.
This confirms our suspicion that we don’t need a dedicated e-reader when we have a really good mobile device. The iPhone’s pixel density and high-contrast, rich colour display make reading pleasant — even for long sessions. And while the Kindle should have a much longer battery life than the iPhone, we can read faster with our iPhone, since it isn’t bogged down by Kindle’s slow-loading — and frankly, unnecessary — monochrome E-ink.
The lone missing feature: The ability to buy and read new releases. We’d love to see Amazon (AMZN) take the Netflix (NFLX) approach — make its digital content available on as many platforms as possible; not just its own gadgets — and create a Kindle reader/store app for the iPhone. But we’re not holding our breath on this one — Amazon is subsidizing the cost of its e-book titles specifically so it can boost Kindle sales, and create an iPod/iTunes-style closed system.
A bigger screen would be nice, too, which is why we’re still hoping to see a slightly larger iPod touch from Apple (AAPL) someday, perhaps with a 5-to-6-inch multi-touch display.
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