When I was at University studying Interaction design many moons ago. We once had a live brief set by Mitsubishi. This was believe it or not in the hay days of 2.5g aka GPRS and if your lucky EDGE. However the promise of these mobile technologies was the ability to be online all the time.
I wrote my dissertation about the promise of 3G and how it ultimately was hype which the consumer would be let down by. Watching 4G you could pretty much replace the number…
but what I’m more concerned about is the amount of apps which assume your online always.
This seems insane specially with the amount of tablets which only have Wifi & Bluetooth connections.
A couple which have really bugged me recently…
I like Instapaper specially when they introduced the option to send your list to the Kindle for free. In fact I dropped Pocket/Read it later soon after that. Heck I’m even a subscriber paying my 1 pound per month for the service. The instapaper apps on Android mainly are all good but when saving a post out of my Google Reader to Instapaper its failed due to not being online! This is frankly stupid. A few I have tried include PaperMill (my current Instapaper reader), Everpaper, Papermache and many more. So bad, I actually have the one app (send to instapaper) which does it correctly installed along side Papermill.
From the developer of send to instapaper,
Save a URL to Instapaper to read later even if your phone is not currently connected to Internet.
I wrote this app because all available Instapaper clients on the Market fail to work in offline mode. When I decide to bookmark a URL in Instapaper these apps make a request to Instapaper server right away. They of course fail if I am not on the Internet, a common situation when I am reading on my phone in Prague subway on my way to work.
This “Send To Instapaper” app is intelligent enough to know the phone is not online. It would store user requests in a little database and submit them to Instapaper.com later when the phone gets connected to Internet.
And the developer is so right… Its not hard it just takes a little thinking about the user scenarios.
I wish it was just a one off but its not and the developers should be frankly ashamed.
I use to tweet from my Kindle to tweet interesting things I was reading but people and followers complained there was no link to the actual article or post. And to be honest they were right.
Its frustrating that the Kindle can do so much but Amazon’s ecosystem refuses to support self-published content.
However I finally given up on the Kindle for tweeting interesting news bits. Don’t get me wrong, its still my device for long form reading – because frankly the e-ink screen is still the best screen to read text on for me.
This change was made easier with GReader and Plume Twitter client on the Samsung 7+ Tablet. Plume will hold the twitter messages in a queue till I get back online, which is usually at home or work. This also slightly eases the need to enable wifi teathering on my HTC One X (something I can no longer do, till I root it).
The only issue is, when I’m finally back online, all the tweets are posted one after another, which can look like a bit of a tweet flood to some.
I’m also thinking about paying for Instapaper because its rather handy for sending stuff to my kindle (I know I can do it via the free.kindle.com address but I quite like the fact it groups them and sends one a day when theres something new). On top of that Ars Technica’s subscription model isn’t so bad. And access to the full text RSS feeds would be very handy.
I pretty much take my Kindle most places and people keep asking me what I feel about it? I always say its great and of course I carry it around everywhere… (in actual fact it would be great if Amazon recognized the fans/ambassadors like myself)
Then they usually ask about the books… What book are you reading?
This is where I tend to divert from the normal kindle owner.
So how do I get news on to the Kindle? Well there seems to be a whole bunch of ways.
- Calibre is your long lost friend
No matter what you do this is the first point of call for any ebook reader, even the ipad. It converts ebooks and with the recipes you can point it at almost any website and it will turn it into a ebook for reading on the device. One of my favorite recipes is the Google Reader recipe, turns my unread RSS subscriptions into a nice ebook. And to top it all off, Calibre can be setup to automatically send the ebook to the kindle. Of course I have this setup, so I never have to sync my kindle anymore. In actual fact I only need to plug it in once a month when the battery is low.
- Instapaper is simply great
Instapaper most people know about but one of the new features is the ability to send to a Kindle as a kindle compatible .mobi file. No need to wait for Calibre. Plus it also has the option of sending only when there’s a certain amount of clipped content, so you don’t get lots of empty or single page ebooks. On top of that the Kindle treats them as periodicals so, it automatically archives old ones instead of clogging it up with old instapapers.
- Klip me with chrome and soon others
Send to Kindle with Klip.me works exactly how you expect. The only thing is it currently only works on Chrome and Safari. They are working on a Firefox version but till then you can use the beta bookmarklet service which does the same thing but not so elegantly.
- Email for Free
One of the things which Amazon don’t make very clear is the ability to send emails with attachments to Amazon and have them delivered for free over wifi. This of course totally displaces Amazon’s own conversion service, whispernet and if your like me, don’t really trust Amazon enough to give them access to everything on my kindle (see the whole 1984 issue), then you bought a wifi only kindle.
Your email address is what ever your kindle email is but with @free.kindle.com instead of @kindle.com. This is very handy for example I have sent things from my Evernote to the Kindle for further reading. Of course you have tell amazon which email address are valid, so you don’t get spam on your kindle.
- Send to Kindle from Android
Nice little tool if you happen to for example get a tweet to a very interesting but lengthy post but can’t be bothered to read it on the small android screen. Usually I bookmark it using delicious, instapaper or readitlater but now I can go direct to the kindle which is handy.
The biggest problem with the kindle for me is simply once you read something in the google reader ebook its hard to find out who exactly wrote it. I keep meaning to modify the recipe include the blog titles. If I happen to be in a place with wifi, I can link to the kindle webbrowser but then I’m stuck again.
Ideally I would be able to send it to readitlater, instapaper or whatever. I though about using the tweet function but as I’ve discovered the tweets well pretty much useless. Don’t get me wrong it does what it says and its great if your reading a book but its no good for self published stuff.
Finally I don’t understand why but I can’t get my kindle to work with my HTC Desire mobile wifi hotspot (myfi). If I did I might be able to sort out some kind of solution but I can’t work out why…
Saying all this… I still love my kindle
I didn’t notice Instapaper now supports wireless delivery of epub’s.
Reading on the Kindle’s non-reflective, e-ink screen is easy on the eyes and great for longer content.
Instapaper provides Kindle-compatible files, easily transferred at no charge via USB, containing the Text versions of your saved pages in any folder.
Additionally, you can set up wireless delivery to automatically send your most recent Instapaper stories every day or week. Note: Amazon assesses a surcharge for each wireless delivery, and wireless delivery is not available in all countries.
Instapaper also provides ePub files for other electronic reading devices that support ePub, including most Sony Readers and the Barnes & Noble Nook.
Ok besides the Amazon surcharge (which doesn’t seem to apply if you have a wifi only kindle it seems), this is fantastic. I use to use Instapaper but switched over to using Readitlater. I might have to switch back? At least till readitlater enables the same feature (i and others have already suggested it)
I was enjoying instapaper because it just works but then I checked out Readitlater which someone wrote a nice script in Calibre (if you have a ebook readder and are not using this, you should be) for. And I’m converted. Its not as casual but with things like the firefox plugin, its certainly a much richer experience and works how I tend to work. There API could also be very useful for my plans to do with semantic desktop logging or even to move things into a archive space like delicious.