REVIEW: Amazon Cloud Reader Leaves Apple Restrictions on the Ground

Kindle for the WebRemember that time Apple fired a shot across Amazon’s bow? Well Amazon looks set to have the last laugh. Amazon Cloud Reader joins Amazon’s Cloud services today, and it is pretty sweet.

Cloud Reader is a replacement for Amazon’s desktop PC/Mac Kindle software and iPad Kindle app. (Sorry, not for iPhone, at least not yet.) It’s implemented in HTML5, and it is feature complete. I spent some time with it today, and while it’ll never replace my Kindle 3, I do have to admit that it’s a great reading experience whether on the PC or iPad.

The Good

Visually it looks very similar to the iOS app or the desktop software suite, and it works pretty much the same as well. The main difference you’ll find right away is that all of your Amazon book purchases are listed right away; they don’t download to the device until you open or pin one.

Pinning a book is a handy feature required for offline reading. When you open a book or specifically tell it to pin a book, it’s downloaded to the computer or to your iPad. At that point you’re able to read it whenever you want, with or without an internet connection.

It preserves the presentation options you’d expect, with options to change the font size, background color, etc.

Performance in Google Chrome is really fast and snappy, and the iPad’s Safari was just as good.

And of course the really great feature – yes, there’s a big, prominent Kindle Store button in the upper right. You can shop for new books right from the web app, even on the iPad. Take THAT, Apple.

For my fellow Canadians, it works just fine up here, making Amazon’s cloud services that much more useful to us.

The Bad

I have very little to list here. On the PC side, you can’t move through pages with the scroll wheel, and I found I instinctively wanted to do that. This isn’t an issue on the iPad, of course.

There’s no page flip animation. People who are addicted to that may miss it. I do not; I always disliked that effect.

It’s not a real Kindle. Your mileage may vary on this one, but I remain convinced that eInk is the only way to read eBooks. It’s great to have a backup means of reading if my Kindle should ever get lost, stolen or damaged though.

Have you tried out Amazon Cloud Reader? What platform did you use it on? What’d you think? Let us know in the comments!


  1. says

    Amazon did an amazing job. I used to use the Kindle app for PC. No more. This is far superior in both presentation and ease of use.

    I like that I can switch between reading on my iPhone and reading a few pages of a book at my PC, and Kindle keeps track of my current location across devices. Sweet!

  2. says

    The Kindle app is still available, but it’s not necessary. The web app DOES support offline reading. Any book you open will be temporarily stored on the device, and if you want to, you can explicitly pin a book to make it available offline even if you’re not currently reading it.

  3. says

    This looks cool, but I hope it’s not really intended to REPLACE the iPad Kindle app. I don’t want to need an Internet connection all the time just to read my books.

  4. Mactacular says


    I think your headline is misleading. Apple doesn’t have restrictions. They simply say hat if our product (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) is going to generate revenue for your company through its app we want our cut. Which helps pay for in app billing and other things through iTunes.

    I am curious to know why no one points out that Best Buy, Walmart whoever won’t stock, supply, market your product without making profit. But, as soon as Apple wants the same thing from their app store via iTunes it is seen as some kind of robbery.

    Even the software through the Mac app store. I have seen no end to commenters going on and on about apple wanting 30% on Photoshop or whatever. So! Do you believe the retail package sitting on the shelf in Best Buy has zero profit in it? Why shouldn’t they get their cut like every other retailer in the world.

    • says

      Apple most certainly DOES have restrictions. “If you want to be on our app store, you must do X, Y and Z, and these are non-negotiable.” These are restrictions.

      Nobody’s saying Apple should give anything away for free, but there are plenty of people out there who find Apple’s app store requirements to be unreasonable. Typically these tend to be moderate to large sized app developers who don’t work with enough of a profit margin to accommodate Apple’s 30% policy. Smaller developers can absorb that cost more easily because they operate on much larger margins since they have far fewer expenses.

      The adoption of HTML5 to create web apps that bypass the Apple app store completely is a good move by these companies to make everyone happy – they get to include whatever links they want, and Apple doesn’t have to host offending apps on their store and contribute eyeshare and bandwidth to someone elses’ cause.

      Is it an absolutely perfect, pie-in-the-sky solution for absolutely everybody? Of course not, there’s no such thing. It does seem like it offers the most advantages to the most people though.

    • says

      Exactly so. It’s a really nice app. I like to try to be balanced in my reviews so I wanted to include something, but there wasn’t much I didn’t like about it aside from the display device, and no app can do much about that.