Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kindle, the Root of All Evil

Kindle, FREE

Kindle, the root of all evil. Well, not really. The root of my insomnia is more like it. I am addicted to Kindle.It is what I mostly do on my device. Read. Read. Read.

So what is Kindle?

Kindle is a free universal app optimized for iPad, iPhone, and iTouch. The problem with universal apps is that they look great on small screen devices like iPhone and itouch, but the quality is greatly reduced when viewed on a much bigger screen, like the iPad. What you are doing is just zooming in (2x) on what is generally made for a smaller screen. That is not the case with Kindle.

Kindle, thumbnail view
Kindle's home screen is a delicious visual pleaser. I prefer this over the boring "real-looking" bookshelf forms of most e-book readers (including iBooks).

On the bottom part of the screen, you have your "archived items": Books that you have bought on the Kindle Store and is ready for download on your device.

Next to it are buttons for how you want to view your books. The thumbnail view (The image shown on the left) is my favorite. I like seeing my individual books in all its glory. Clean. Uncluttered. Just book after book.
Kindle, list view

The detailed list view (The image shown on the right) gives you a small version of your book, its title and author, and how far you've come on your reading.The alphabet on the right of the screen is for browsing, just tap on the letter of your choice and it will direct you to the list that starts with that letter.

You can arrange your books according to the recent ones you've read, according to author, and according to the book titles. Whichever you prefer. Mine is set on author for now.

And on the far right corner of the home screen is a small "i" icon, a pull up tab of info regarding Kindle: Settings, About, Provide Feedback, Contact Support, Terms of Use, Legal Notices. Beside the "i" icon is an icon for refreshing your app, checking for items, and syncing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Library at Your Finger Tips: E-book Apps

If you're like me, you want free books. Or at the very least a virtual shelf-full of one that isn't expensive. Here are a few download-worthy E-books you can fit in your iPad.

Classics2Go, FREE, $0.99
Classics2Go Collection

Not to be confused with another Classics to go app (they have different developers), this one has 60 classic books right at your fingertips. I love the antique parchment effect of the books. And like any other e-book apps, this one can bookmark your books as well. It is the first e-book app I have downloaded. If you're a classics kind of person, this one is just perfect for you.

It comes in different languages but you have to buy the apps separately. The one I have is free, but you can buy the app as well. Unlike some e-book apps, this one doesn't have its built-in settings for font size or brightness control.

Some books in the app: Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland [Illustrated], Christmas Carol [Illustrated], Gulliver's Travels, Romeo and Juliet, Treasure Island, Wuthering Heights, etc.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Favorite Writing/Note-taking Apps

I have scavenged for the perfect writing app for my iPad2. And after seemingly endless iTunes store clicks, contrasting review-reads, and a buck or more, what have I learned? 1. There is no perfect writing app, only a few that would work for you, 2. Price doesn't guarantee app satisfaction. Anyway, here are a few of my top picks:

Manuscript, $6.99


Before I discovered Manuscript, I have been working on my novel on DocsToGo which is really like working on Word. Manuscript is every writers dream app. It is visually appealing: it presents your novel in book form. It is easy to use and very functional with menus for pitch, synopsis, and index cards for ideas and organization. 

I use the index card section to organize my character bio, and scene details.I love that I can edit my work according to chapters. Plus, it conveniently exports to my Dropbox account. The only thing that irks me is how I can't get a preview of my novel according to the chapter I am working on. It always has to start on chapter 1. Aside from that, overall, Manuscript is awesome and definitely worth the $ I plunked down for it!

Notability, $2.99

A Note-taking app that threw my Nebulous and Notes straight to the abyss that is iPad's last page. Notability lets you type or hand-write notes. With Notability it is possible to insert web clips, images, and figures, and make audio recordings. 

I just wish they can auto detect lines and clean up my handwritten lines and shapes so that they don't look like pitiful doodles. I like organizing my notes and it is a huge plus that with Notability, I can arrange my notes according to category and subjects. It is a versatile app. It even exports to Dropbox (which I am a big fan of) and other cloud services.It is by far the most visually pleasing and media-rich note-taking app I have tried.