I am revisiting the Living In The Clouds series after a big break. In this edition, I am going to talk about the new iPad app for Safari Books Online, a cloud based tech books lending service. I am a heavy cloud user and as a part of this strategy, I have started using Safari Books Online couple of years back. In fact, I have moved completely from paper books to ebooks (except for the ones where the option of ebook is not available), in general, and have started using Safari for all my tech needs. When iPad was released, the biggest motivation for me was the ability to read books on it. Even though I use Kindle, Nook and Stanza for reading my ebooks, I was left with a browser based option for Safari Books Online.
In fact, the browser based access to Safari Books Online was very well made. As someone who is promoting SaaS in full throttle, it is the right option. However, at times, I felt that I would love to have the native experience I get on apps like Kindle, Nook, Stanza, etc.. When they announced that they will soon be releasing an iPad app, I thought it is a great move to enjoy the native app experience with Safari Books Online. So, today, when they announced that the app is available on App Store, I got revved up and immediately installed the app. My first impression is that it is 50:50. I like some of the features and not so happy with the performance/experience of others.
Similar to the past editions of this series, I will use a Pros and Cons approach to talk about my first impressions of this app.
- One could use the iPad gestures to zoom or drag drop books to read, etc.
- The interface appears similar to their web application and users may feel comfortable with it
- Powerful search features are very handy
- You can tag and add notes while reading the book and it is good
- You can read up to 10 books by caching offline. This is the best part of the whole app for me because it will let me read books while on the planes with no wifi
- This is not really a con but some people might feel that they are not getting the experience of a native app. This feeling is unavoidable because this app accesses the service directly from the cloud
- My biggest disappointment is that the app is very sluggish. This looks more like a bloated version of their web app than offering a more native experience
- Some of the features were not working, probably due to load on their resources. I guess this should get better after the initial enthusiasm wears out
- This is also not a con but a feature request. I should be able to favorite a book while I am reading. Right now, I can do it from the overview screen but I should be able to do it from inside
Overall, it is a promising app and I hope the next few iterations will make the whole reading experience more fun. If you are a fan of Safari Books Online with an iPad at your disposal, I suggest that you to check out this free app. Don’t have too much expectation with the app but this is a good start.
Update: The number of things I don’t like in this app is increasing at a higher rate. This app doesn’t show the images on the books, even the books downloaded for offline reading. I think an immediate update is due from Safari Books for this app to be of any use to people.
- Safari Books Online Launches Free Global iPad App called ‘Safari To Go’ (eon.businesswire.com)
- Safari Books Online Brings Your Library to Android, iPhone, Blackberry and Any Mobile Device with a Browser (eon.businesswire.com)
- Safari Books Online expands (teleread.com)
- Safari Books Online updates its mobile site to include sharing, categorizing, and usage analysis (intomobile.com)