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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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February 2012
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Official Kindle App Coming to Blackberry Playbook 2.0?

Tomorrow we will finally get a chance to try out the new Blackberry Playbook 2.0, but we already have a bit of a surprise regarding its features.  According to an advertisement that seems to have inadvertently been slipped onto Best Buy’s Canadian site, for the first time ever Playbook users will have their own Kindle app.  There is a great deal of speculation at the moment over whether or not the Blackberry Tablet OS 2.0 update (now Blackberry Playbook OS) will be what makes the brand relevant again after their abrupt decline in recent years, and this would definitely be a good sign.

While many reports are taking it as a given at this point that the native Kindle app will ship with the hardware, there is still plenty of reason to be skeptical.  One of the big features of the update is that it will allow Android developers to easily port their apps for use on the Playbook.  Given that opportunity, it is easier to see Amazon just converting their Kindle for Android offering than making the effort to develop native software for an operating system with a comparatively narrow user base and uncertain future.

It is also possible, given the phrasing of the advertisement that has spurred all of this speculation, that it meant nothing more than that Playbook users will be able to make use of the Kindle Cloud Reader web app.  The exact lines in question read:

“Plug in to BlackBerry App World and read, write and game like never before. With thousands of apps for every use, you’ll never run out of new and exciting options. Pick up Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, read the latest magazines, or connect online with Facebook and Twitter apps. With access to Kobo and Kindle, you can enjoy new late night reading without ever leaving your living room.”

While this says there should really be something, it doesn’t rule out any of the options.  The current Twitter “app”, for example, is simply a link that takes users to their web interface.  Since the language in question has since been removed it may even have been in error completely, but this wouldn’t be the first time that early leaks like this turned out to be accurate.

There has been a series of announcements about RIM’s policies with regard to apps, including imported Android apps, that lead some to question the ongoing viability of the platform.  When the tablets finally start getting out to the public it will be more possible to gauge their impact on the market as a whole.  For those Blackberry fans who pick up the new Playbook, however, it is definitely good news that there will be some method for accessing Kindle libraries.  With luck, this will be the start of a resurgence of the Blackberry line as a major contender in the smartphone and tablet markets.  More competition generally means better products for everybody.  The Kindle Fire is my current favorite for the price, but nothing is ever perfect.

Daily Deals: Washington’s Crossing and Calculator

Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History)

Today Amazon offers to spend several evenings reading about great history moment of America. The name of book is Washington’s Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History) by David Hackett Fischer. The price is $1.99
Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, George Washington–and many other Americans–refused to let the Revolution die. On Christmas night, as a howling nor’easter struck the Delaware Valley, he led his men across the river and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison at Trenton, killing or capturing nearly a thousand men. A second battle of Trenton followed within days. The Americans held off a counterattack by Lord Cornwallis’s best troops, then were almost trapped by the British force. Under cover of night, Washington’s men stole behind the enemy and struck them again, defeating a brigade at Princeton. The British were badly shaken. In twelve weeks of winter fighting, their army suffered severe damage, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was ruined. Fischer’s richly textured narrative reveals the crucial role of contingency in these events. We see how the campaign unfolded in a sequence of difficult choices by many actors, from generals to civilians, on both sides. While British and German forces remained rigid and hierarchical, Americans evolved an open and flexible system that was fundamental to their success. The startling success of Washington and his compatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning.

Calculator

Add the handy Calculator app to your Android device, and you’ll wonder how you got along without it. From the simple yet beautiful interface to the added features, Calculator is a must-have. Designed to replace the less-than-desirable stock calculator on Android devices, this calculator not only looks great but also has an intuitive design and full functionality.

All-in-one Calculator

This calculator app is ideal for kids, college students, and adults. It’s perfect for simply managing your budget as well as for tackling those tough trigonometry problems in your math class with Sin, Cos, Tan, inverse trig, and hyperbolic functions. You can even change the calculator’s functionality on the fly. Leave the calculator in portrait view to see just a simple calculator, or turn the calculator on its side to reveal a scientific calculator.

You can choose between three different calculator layouts depending on your needs. The Default Layout features a standard 10-key calculator in portrait mode and scientific calculator in landscape mode with advanced functions such as square root, exponents, factorials, and more. It can also calculate in both Radian and degree mode. The Business Layout adds a ‘%’ key in portrait mode and a ’00’ key. The Simple Layout keeps the 10-key calculator in both portrait and landscape mode when all you need is a simple calculator.

Other Great Features

Change the look and feel of the calculator to suit your preference. The app includes a variety of different skins to match your device. The memory buttons (M+, M-, MR, and MC) are fully functional. Calculator will even remember the value stored when you close the app.

Calculator looks great from the smallest to the largest screens as well as low and high-density screens. Calculator supports App2SD for 2.2+ Android devices.

Kindle for Android, Reading Apps & Good E-Reader

Earlier this month the Kindle for Android app got a bit of an update.  While nothing huge, it did finally bring the Real Page Numbers to Android users.  In addition to this, they managed to pare down the size of the download required to use the Kindle platform from 10+mb to a more manageable 8mb.  This might seem rather minor, but considering the lack of space on many Android devices as well as the fact that some users have reported sizes of up to 25mb (can’t reproduce that, but the claim has circulated), this is a definite improvement.

Much as I like the Kindle app however, and I do, there are some things that I would like to be able to do that it does not provide.  Real Page Numbers are nice, but situational at best given that they still only exist in a fraction of the available Kindle Editions.  Now, I have posted here before about the ability to download and install the Nook app through non-Amazon sources and this works quite well.  Sadly I believe that the specific method I mentioned several months ago has been blocked off, though.  This difficulty became a non-issue thanks to Good E-Reader being kind enough to open up their own free app store.

While you can find a fair selection of general purpose apps present that they felt were worth keeping around for people, the folks over at Good E-Reader are concentrating mostly on reading.  This covers books, magazines, comics, and all such things along those lines.  There are only free apps, but this allows the site to operate without adding in any of the inconvenient restrictions that currently plague locked-in Android device owners wishing to pick up something useful. It is definitely worth checking out.

In terms of reading on your Kindle Fire, for example, some people find it more convenient to have access to the Nook app’s extra level of brightness control than to be able to simply invert the contrast of the page.  Others will appreciate the level of social media integration offered by the Kobo app.  In either case, at least you will be able to open EPUB formatted eBooks, which the Kindle Fire lacks any form of native support for at the moment.  You won’t have luck with everything (Google Books, for example is still not working in my experience) but for the most part they’re doing a good job of making the latest popular selections available without all the hassle.

Overall Amazon has done a good job of giving customers what they want, both in terms of the software they provide and the hardware they sell.  I can understand the urge to retain control over what gets installed on Kindle Fire devices, especially since if anything goes wrong it is likely to be Amazon’s Customer Service that gets the call.  They have left the door pretty wide open to install most things, though, provided you know how to find them.  In some cases, it’s more than worth the effort it takes to get the most out of your experience.  Kindle Fire software updates do not remove any apps when they occur, so it shouldn’t be an ongoing hassle.