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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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December 2017
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Kindle Fire Passed By Nook Tablet in Web Traffic

Right now it is safe to say that the iPad is on top when it comes to tablets.  I’m assuming nobody genuinely thinks anymore that the Kindle Fire was ever about trying to bring down Apple’s device.  It is no surprise then that in a recent analysis of their web traffic impressions, the Chitika Ad Network found that 91% of tablet traffic on the web comes from iPads.

What was somewhat surprising was that for the first time we see the Nook Tablet beating the Kindle Fire in terms of use.  Since May, the Nook has jumped from making up 0.53% of all tablet traffic to accounting for 0.85%.  For just a month, that’s an impressive increase in presence.  The Kindle Fire saw no such increase and even seems to have fallen off slightly in the same period.

What does this mean for the two devices?  Unfortunately this data is hard to draw any real conclusions from.  Lacking any sort of information about data collection, we don’t even know as much about what devices we are talking about.  How much of the Nook’s internet presence comes from people running rooted tablets thanks to simple tools making use of the SD slot, for example?  That matters, since it is essentially a lost customer for B&N when they are selling their hardware at near-cost in order to lock people into their ecosystem.

Even if we assume that those users are completely removed, we are still left with a study that examines only web use.  Anybody who has spent time browsing the internet on either of these devices already knows that while pleasant enough for what it is, the browsing experience a 7” tablet offers will generally fail to impress.

I would be more excited to see information about impressions and click-throughs on advertising in popular apps across multiple platforms.  That would be likely to give us a better understanding of the comparison since just about everybody loads up some Angry Birds or Words With Friends from time to time.

With the iPad still providing about fifty times the traffic of its closest competition this is all really a minor point.  You just can’t expect a small device designed for media consumption to do the same job or generate the same interest as Apple’s more powerful and popular product.  They have nothing to fear from Android tablets in general right now, let alone the budget side of the market.

Clearly this data will be helpful for anybody who is interested in trying to target tablet users specifically when designing a web-based advertising campaign.  For the rest of us, however, there is not enough detail to be worth thinking too much about it.  It would be nice if the Nook Tablet suddenly experienced a huge boost in popularity since Amazon couldn’t help but push back by adding new products or software features, but that isn’t necessarily the case here.

Maybe the next generation of tablets, with Windows 8 competing against the iPad and a Microsoft-backed Nook line providing intense competition for the Kindle Fire, but for now things are pretty much on hold.

Kindle Fire Browser HTML5 compatibility list

Here’s what html5test.com spews out when testing Kindle Fire browser for HTML5 support:

Your browser scores 196 out of a total of 450 points

Parsing rules 1/11
<!DOCTYPE html> triggers standards mode Yes ✔
HTML5 tokenizer No ✘
HTML5 tree building No ✘
HTML5 defines rules for embedding SVG and MathML inside a regular HTML document. Support for SVG and MathML is not required though, so bonus points are awarded if your browser supports embedding these two technologies.
SVG intext/html No ✘
MathML intext/html No ✘

Canvas 20/20
canvas element Yes ✔
2D context Yes ✔
Text Yes ✔

Video 21/31
video element Yes ✔
Subtitle support No ✘
Poster image support Yes ✔
The following tests go beyond the requirements of the HTML5 specification and are not counted towards the total score. If a browser supports one or more video codecs, two bonus points are awarded for each codec.
MPEG-4 support No ✘
H.264 support No ✘
Ogg Theora support No ✘
WebM support No ✘

Audio 20/20 + 1 bonus
audio element Yes ✔
The following tests go beyond the requirements of the HTML5 specification and are not counted towards the total score. If a browser supports one or more audio codecs, one bonus point is awarded for each codec.
PCM audio support No ✘
MP3 support Yes ✔
AAC support No ✘
Ogg Vorbis support No ✘
WebM support No ✘

Elements 13/28
Embedding custom non-visible data No ✘
New or modified elements
Section elements Partial ○
Grouping content elements No ✘
Text-level semantic elements Partial ○
Interactive elements Partial ○
Global attributes or methods
hidden attribute No ✘
Dynamic markup insertion Yes ✔

Forms 32/98
Field types
input type=search Yes ✔
input type=tel Yes ✔
input type=url Yes ✔
input type=email Yes ✔
input type=datetime Partial ○
input type=date Partial ○
input type=month Partial ○
input type=week Partial ○
input type=time Partial ○
input type=datetime-local Partial ○
input type=number Partial ○
input type=range Partial ○
input type=color Partial ○
input type=checkbox Yes ✔
input type=image Partial ○
textarea Partial ○
select Partial ○
fieldset Partial ○
datalist No ✘
keygen Partial ○
output No ✘
progress No ✘
meter No ✘

Fields 32/98
Field validation Yes ✔
Association of controls and forms Partial ○
Other attributes Partial ○
CSS selectors Partial ○
Events Yes ✔
Forms
Form validation Partial ○

User interaction 34/36
Drag and drop
Attributes Partial ○
Events Yes ✔
HTML editing
Editing elements Yes ✔
Editing documents Yes ✔
APIs Yes ✔

History and navigation 5/5
Session history Yes ✔

Microdata 0/15
Microdata No ✘

Web applications 19/20
Application Cache Yes ✔
Custom scheme handlers Yes ✔
Custom content handlers Yes ✔
Custom search providers No ✘

Security 5/10
Sandboxediframe Yes ✔
Seamlessiframe No ✘
Geolocation 0/15
Geolocation No ✘

WebGL 0/25
3D context No ✘
Native binary data No ✘

Communication 5/25
Cross-document messaging Yes ✔
Server-Sent Events No ✘
Both Mozilla and Opera do support the WebSocket protocol in their latest browsers, but have disabled it due to a fundamental security issue with the protocol. Once the protocol has been updated it is expected they will re-enable this feature.
WebSocket No ✘

Files 0/20
FileReader API No ✘
FileSystem API No ✘

Storage 15/20
Session Storage Yes ✔
Local Storage Yes ✔
IndexedDB No ✘
The Web SQL Database specification is no longer being updated and has been replaced by IndexedDB. Because at least 3 vendors have shipped implementations of this specification we still include it in this test.
Web SQL Database Yes ✔

Workers 0/15
Web Workers No ✘
Shared Workers No ✘

Local multimedia 0/20
Access the webcam No ✘

Notifications 0/10
Web Notifications No ✘

Other 6/6
Text selection Yes ✔
Scroll into view Yes ✔

Kindle Cloud Reader brings Kindle books to the Web, iPad, Chromebooks

 

Kindle Cloud Reader

Kindle Cloud Reader

Kindle for the Web has been around for almost a year and it seemed as it wasn’t going anywhere at all. Seemingly nothing happened even when Google came out with their online eBook offering. Then some more time passed and Apple started pressing eReader apps into selling eBooks via Apple app store. This would mean 30% commission for Apple but it would also cause eBook sellers like B&N, Sony and Amazon to loose (even more) money on eBook sales. Moving to the web seemed like a logical choice. Eventually Apple backed out and thing returned to status quo. However a few days ago Kindle did significantly expand their Web presence by releasing Kindle Cloud Reader (https://read.amazon.com/).

Kindle Cloud Reader is named in the same fashion as Amazon Cloud Player since “cloud” seems to be the most recent “magic buzz word”. It enables Kindle users to read their Kindle books in the browser almost without having to install anything on their devices. I put “almost” because Chrome users are asked to install optional browser extension that enables offline reading and Safari users are asked to extend 50 megabytes of browser database storage to the web-app for the same purposes. The reader is based on HTML5

Currently only it only works in Google Chrome (on Windows, Mac, Linux and Chromebook) and Apple Safari (on Mac and iPad, but not iPhone and iPod Touch) browsers. It accomplishes a whole lot and really nothing at the same time. Lets take a closer look:

  • Kindle is now safe from Apple app store assaults since using the web application is a viable option. Apple blocking or otherwise preventing users from using the web application will open doors to so much legal and PR trouble that even billions of the cash that Apple stashed so far might not be enough to get them out of it. However as we’ve already seen, Apple wouldn’t go as far as removing a popular eReader apps from their app store anyway since it would accomplish nothing and hurt everyone (including Apple). The fact that Kindle Cloud Reader comes with book store “optimized for tablets” it seems very likely to me that one of the original goals behind the project was to bypass Apple app store if need be.
  • Linux users now have official access to Kindle books. However you could get Kindle on Linux in the past as well though the virtue of Wine Windows emulator. But even if it wasn’t the case, Linux market share is still so small that most companies just choose to ignore it altogether without noticeable effect on the bottom line. No disrespect towards Linux and it’s users intended – just stating the facts as they stand
  • Chromebook users can now access Kindle eBooks. Nice, but given their current market share you can’t call this anything but future investment and hedging the risks of the emerging tablet market.
  • While all platforms (except Linux and Chromebook) had official support for Kindle via apps it is nice to have the option to forgo app installation altogether. I’ve worked in the software industry for about 15 years already and my strong belief is that every application or feature is a bug waiting to happen. This is especially true in modern fast paced “release early, release often” environment in which even my TV and receiver want a firmware update (that always includes bug fixes) on a monthly basis (not to mention all apps that I have installed on either iPad or Android. So having fewer apps is better. So far browser has been the best way of isolating apps from the OS and from one another.
  • Kindle Cloud Reader will fully match what Google Books has to offer once all popular browsers are supported. However it’s not like Google Books is currently a serious player in the eBook market anyway.
  • Another benefit of not having an app is the fact that it is easier for users to get their foot into the Kindle door since you don’t even need to install an app (never mind having a Kindle device as was the case a few years back) to start reading. Instant gratification is only one click away… However Amazon Cloud Reader is not fully integrated into Amazon Kindle Store yet. Although there is “Read now in Kindle Cloud Reader” button on the thank you page after the purchase, that button is nowhere to be found on the book product page. More importantly browsers that hold the largest market share (Internet Explorer, Firefox) on the most popular operating system (Windows) are not supported! 80% of users are left out. This may be the reason for the lack of book store integration. Users are more likely to install eBook reading app than a new browser and change their year old habits.
  • While you can read the books in the browser (if your browser is supported), some features are missing such as:
    • taking new notes and highlighting (though previous annotations are visible
    • searching within the book (or your book collection). You can however search within the page using browser search function (Ctrl-F)
    • Text-to-speech is not there. Given how complex the HTML document structure is (iframes within iframes and a lot of nested tags) I’m not sure if screen reader software will be able to handle it.
  • There is only so much DRM one can put into browser app. With offline storage, pirating Kindle books would become a breeze. However it’s not like it wasn’t done before. Kindle DRM was broken in the past and even if it wasn’t there plenty of books circulating in torrents and shady websites anyway. You can find most of the books you would want with minimal effort. So not pirating is a conscious choice based on good nature and availability of legitimate purchase options rather than result of DRM.

Although it may seem that I’m overall critical and negative towards Kindle Cloud Reader, I’m not. For all it’s current shortcomings it has a great potential and these shortcomings can be easily overcome. Developing web apps is cheap if you have the right infrastructure (which Amazon certainly does) so Amazon can add all of the missing features even if there will be little demand for the Cloud Reader. They will do it just because they can or “just in case”.

Well written AJAX web application is truly cross-platform: I’ve seen the same app run on all Windows browsers, Mac browsers, iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, Windows Phone 7, all kinds of Android devices, Linux, and even Kindle 3 browser. Not being bound by acceptance gates by numerous isolated app stores – that’s true freedom. Web app that doesn’t need to be installed and opens with a single click is also the ultimate instant gratification that will help many users get their first taste of Kindle.

All in all Kindle Cloud Reader is mostly about potential now. Whether this potential will be fully realized is up to Amazon.

Amazon Launches Kindle for the Web Beta

kindle for the web screenshot

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) recently launched a Kindle for the Web application that allows the reader to preview the first chapter of a book for free.  The application is currently in Beta stage.  If you like to try before you buy you might like the ability to just quickly access the application and preview the book.

Kindle for the Web also allows the reader to share book samples with friends on the web or through social networks.  I think that in order for this feature to be fully utilized, Amazon needs to release the whole book, but I’m sure this feature will come soon with the full release.  Kindle for PC and Mac already allow this option, but just don’t allow the computer to computer mobility that a web browser would.  Installation is required for the Kindle for PC and Mac software and is not for the Web application.

Over the past week I spent a lot of time reading my Kindle, and really enjoyed the break from the glare of the computer screen.  For pleasure reading I definitely think the Kindle itself still has a good foothold.  The Kindle for the Web application will be great for short term reading or to grab samples to share with friends.

After checking out the interface for the application, I was pleased to find that it includes a font enlargement selection, and that all of the navigation and menu options are intuitive and easy to use.

On another note, Amazon has already announced plans to create an application for the new Blackberry Playbook tablet projected to come out in early 2011.  It looks like the tablet market is finally beginning to heat up and competition for the iPad is on the horizon.  I’m sure Amazon will be well equipped to provide Kindle applications for any future devices.

B&N Steps Up the Competition

In recent days, as Apple steps into the market and eReaders are practically falling out of the rafters, one of the major points of comparison that has kept the Kindle on top has been the subscription-free 3G connection complete with web browser.  Nobody has ever claimed that it looked wonderful, but it does the job and who doesn’t occasionally love the option to check Wikipedia on the fly?

Well, it seems that Barnes and Noble has finally caught up with the crowd.  According to recently released rumors, we could be seeing a full web browser added into the feature list as early as next week in a downloaded firmware update.  Now, it would be reasonable to expect perfection right out the door, but any nook owner will tell you that this has been a long time coming.

Even assuming that the main purpose will be for text-based web pages such as Wikipedia or the many online dictionaries, there will be several unexpected side effects that could benefit owners.  Travelers in areas without 3G coverage who wish to use their devices in the airport, hotel, or coffee shop have often found themselves out of luck up until now, since many such places require navigating an internal web page to gain access to the connection itself.  If this rumor proves true, nook fans have some fun things to look forward to as the eReader feature gap closes up a little bit more.