Amazon is launching redesigned versions of its Kindle apps for iOS and Android this morning, with an updated look, a more accessible search feature, and a new navigation bar that helps users quickly jump back into reading.
In addition, starting on iOS, the Kindle app now features a new “Community” tab that integrates with the Goodreads social reading community, acquired by Amazon in 2013. The new features, to be rolled out later for Android, include the ability to follow and comment on what friends are reading, save books to a “Want to Read” list, get recommendations based on readers who like similar books, and post notes and highlights for other users to see and comment on.
“There’s a set of things that have kind of come together in this update that makes it one of the largest we’ve done to the app ever,” said Seth Micarelli, Amazon Kindle creative director, during a demonstration of the overhauled Kindle app at the Amazon offices in Seattle last week.
The revamp comes just a few weeks before the 10-year anniversary of the first Kindle device. Amazon doesn’t disclose financial results for the overall Kindle business, but sales in the U.S. and worldwide are up year-over-year, said Mike Torres, an Amazon director on the Kindle business. Amazon Prime Day was the biggest day on record for Kindle e-readers, and the company this month unveiled a new version of its high-end Kindle Oasis e-reader, the first waterproof Kindle device.
However, print books remain more popular than e-books, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center study. And the biggest growth in e-reading is on multipurpose devices, not on dedicated e-readers, the study found.
“Americans increasingly turn to multipurpose devices such as smartphones and tablet computers – rather than dedicated e-readers – when they engage with e-book content,” explained the Pew researchers in a summary of their findings. “The share of e-book readers on tablets has more than tripled since 2011 and the number of readers on phones has more than doubled over that time, while the share reading on e-book reading devices has not changed.”
Amazon is looking to capitalize on and fuel that growth in smartphone and tablet reading with the redesigned Kindle apps.
The changes start with a new app logo that zooms in on the iconic “kid reading under the tree” and does away with the “Kindle” name in the logo itself, which was duplicated in the smartphone user interface. “We wanted to really zoom in on the scene, that moment of reading and the sense of sanctuary, the sense of reprieve, that comes with a great story,” Amazon’s Micarelli said.
The app adds a new light theme (users can switch back to the dark theme as desired) with larger cover images and a subtle “patina” glow around the edge of the screen designed to mimic the look of a weathered print book. That glow is just in the main app, not in the actual pages of the digital books, where the company says it didn’t want to interfere with the reading experience.
Amazon also uses its Bookerly serif typeface in more portions of the app.
A new navigation tray at the bottom of the app shows an icon of the latest book the user was reading, for quickly jumping back into the book. Amazon Music users will notice similarities to how that app shows an icon of a playing song or album.
Many of the new social integrations in the Community tab require users to have a free Goodreads account, although non-Goodreads members can still get basic recommendations. The service, which operates as an Amazon subsidiary, has more than 65 million members, according to the company.
The revamped Amazon Kindle apps for iOS and Android are available here.