Written by Technology

Kindle for Android Moans

As I’ve been using my Nexus 7 more and more, it has also meant that my “old-school” Kindle has seen less action of late. I find it more convenient to carry a single device and use the Kindle for Android app on the tablet.
Yet it does sometimes feel that the app doesn’t offer all that it might. In particular, there are two rather useful features that Kindle for Android is missing. And I know for a fact that one of those can be found on the iOS version.
Sort by Recency
You can only sort your books by either Title or Author. There is no option to sort by purchase or download date. That might seem very unimportant, but if you build up a decent-sized Kindle library, then finding your latest purchase becomes a tougher proposition.
This functionality can be found on the iOS version, so quite why it’s missing in Android is a bit of a mystery. In programming terms, I’d have thought it’d be trivial to include.
[Update] I had an email discussion with a nice chap from Amazon customer support, and sorting by “Most Recent” is available amongst “Downloaded Items”, but not amongst either “All Items” or “Archived Items”.
Font Choice
With Kindle for Android you simply don’t get one. Now perhaps this is due to licencing issues, but while you can change the font size, the colour, the spacing and the background, you’re stuck with the default font.
(As an aside, lack of font choice is one of my main bugbears with e-readers in general. Some publishers and authors choose their typeface very carefully to be in keeping with the feel of the book. Yet when you reach an e-reader, you get re-rendered in something completely different.)
There are other things too. You don’t get the ability to put books in collections as you can on Kindle devices. Nor can you make use of the lending library that comes with Prime membership if you have it. Again, I need to revert back to a Kindle device for that. These all feel like software issues.
A more devious person might think that Amazon isn’t particularly prioritising generic Kindle for Android users, when they have their own hardware products to sell.
I note that on a Kindle Fire, you can sort by recency, and you have a choice of six fonts for your book reading pleasure. It’s worth noting too that while there is a LoveFilm app on Kindle Fire (and in iOS), there isn’t one for generic Android.
But I’m sure that’s not the case, and Amazon just hasn’t put enough resource into its Android apps. I know Android with its many OS versions and form factors, is harder to program for. But then Amazon’s Kindle programme is based not on selling hardware but flogging media. And I’m getting a sub-optimal experience right now.
I should footnote this piece to assure readers that the majority of my reading is still done on paper since I can do what I like with paper books, and don’t run the risk of losing my entire library due to my only “licencing” rather than “owning” it.