Hands On: Sony goes back to basics, brings e-book ‘Reader’ app to iOS

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Tablets and smartphones are capable of performing so many things, acting as tools for business or for play. They are the perfect option for anyone on the go with an entertainment itch. Often, that means games, movies, or music, but what about a good old fashioned book? Sometimes you just want to throw some wood in the fireplace, pull up a leather chair, and read from your iPhone or iPad. Sony may not be the first name that comes to mind when you’re thinking about the printed word, but it would like to be a go-to in the eBook app market. As such, it’s brought its Reader app to iOS.

If you’re doing reading on your iOS device, you already are likely to have an e-book reader that fits your preferences. Sony’s offering comes with a sleek interface that may have the appeal to those not totally in love with their current option. It also links up with users’ Sony Reader Store account to bring previous purchases into the digital pages of the iOS app. Additionally, you can authorize the use of Adobe eBooks within the Sony Reader app from its info page. You’ll also score a free piece of short fiction from author Kim Harrison. For fans of her work, it may be worth the free download to take a look at the tale, “Trouble on Reserve.”

The Reader homescreen acts as your library, displaying the cover image of every book in your collection. It can also be displayed in list format, which will include the author’s name, title, a smaller image of the cover, and the format the file is in. Regardless of the layout, it can be sorted in a variety of ways, from your most recent selection to title or author. The library can be broken down further into customizable collections. This is great for a series of books or a grouping of genre pieces that you’d like to keep together for easier navigation.

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When reading a book in Reader, the text takes over the entire screen. The text is formatted for either landscape or portrait view and can easily be scrolled through with a drag of the page. Tapping the screen with a book open brings up a menu that allows you to scroll through the book with a status bar similar to one on a video player. You can also access the book’s contents or search the entire text from this menu. Another way to find areas of interest within a given text is by creating bookmarks. This is done within the same menu, and you can add a note to a saved spot so you know what caught your eye at the time.

Pretty much every part of your viewing experience is customizable with the settings menu. You can increase or decrease text size, adjust the brightness, and change the page turn animation, among other options. There’s also a night mode that inverts the color scheme, placing white letters on a black background as to make the screen less piercingly bright in low-light situations. 

If you don’t have an immovable loyalty to your current e-book reader, consider giving Sony’s Reader app a try. It’s entering (or re-entering, as there used to be a Reader app long ago) an app market dominated by giants, but Sony is no slouch. The interface is pretty intuitive and the customization features allow you to really make the reading experience your own. The biggest backlash may be the requirement to have a Sony Reader Store account and library, but if you’re a current user of that service on a Sony e-book reader, or don’t mind trying a new store for your eBook purchases, it’s worth a go. 

You can download the Reader – eBooks from Sony app from the iTunes App Store.

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