Hands-On: Kindle for iPhone spreads the e-reading love across platforms

Amazon rolled out Kindle for iPhone, a free download from the iTune app store that opens up Amazon's library of 240,000 e-books to iPhone users. We installed the app on an iPhone, and found it to be a useful enhancement to the Kindle 2 experience, as well as an excellent e-reader in its own right. With its "Whispersync," it cues up your book on the page you last read on the Kindle, and gives you access to all your bookmarks and highlights, too. It's a joy to use — a swipe to the side with your finger, and one page gracefully slides to the next in that unmistakable iPhone way.

Most of the Kindle features are all there, including text sizing, table of contents, and an unexpected enhancement not on the Kindle itself: a spot of color here and there. But you can't read periodicals or newspapers on Kindle for iPhone, listen to text-to-speech, or add notes or highlights, as you can on the Kindle hardware.

This iPhone app not only enhances the Kindle, it might encourage more people to buy the E Ink reader with its much longer battery life, bigger screen and wireless book purchasing. Oh yeah, you can't buy books directly from Kindle for iPhone — you'll need to use the iPhone's Mobile Safari or a Mac or PC and then transfer the e-book over to Kindle for iPhone. Can't make it too easy, because even though Apple's apparently given up on selling books and book-reading hardware because of Steve Jobs's misguided pronouncement that "people don't read anymore" (despite statistics that show Americans reading more than ever), Apple's not stupid.

iTunes link to Kindle for iPhone app, and NYT