iBooks 3 review

Apple is rightly proud of iBooks. Although its pushed to most users iOS devices (and probably should be installed by default alongside Music and Videos). iBooks remains one of the most popular downloads from the App Store. 

Prior to the release of the iPad mini apple has updated iBooks to version 3. This edition introduces several welcome new features: scrolling text, purchased books, quote sharing and auto updating and online content.

See also: iTunes 11 review

iBooks 3 Scrolling text

Most users read iBooks like regular books: one page at a time and then flip to the next page. This makes sense but Scrolling Text enables you to view pages more like web pages that you scroll down. You still flip (vertically) between pages but these are the actual pages of the original book rather than the page of text that fits in the screen.

Scrolling text is a likeable enough feature that some people may love. Personally we find it better for skim reading text (your eyes tend to focus on one location as you scroll up and down), and as such you don’t tend to take in the words as much. We quickly switched it off for a favourite book, but it might be good if you want to take text in quickly. 

The Scroll option is accessed by tapping the Text Size button and then Themes, so it’s tucked away somewhat. 

iBooks 3 Scroll

iBooks 3 Quote Sharing

Another neat new feature is that you can share quotes via Mail, Message, Twitter, Facebook (or copy and paste them). In Mail the quotes are pasted into white box and it contains Excerpt information. There seems to be no limit to the amount of information you can quote from a book, although you can’t select more than a chapter (even in Scroll mode) at any rate, and there are easier ways of copying books than using the drag-handles in iOS. Even so, publishers can elect not to have the Share option enabled in their books (and knowing the caginess of publishers to file sharing we expect most of them will choose to turn it off). 

See also: iPad mini review

iBooks 3 Purchased books

A new option in the Collections menu enables you to view all Purchased Books (books you have bought from the iBookstore) and one-click download them to the Books collection. It’s a nice feature, admittedly one that the Kindle app has had since its launch. But it’s useful to see it part of iBooks. 

iBooks 3 Purchased Books

iBooks 3 Auto update and online content

iBooks 3 now enables publishers to seed updates to books (corrections, extra chapters, and so on) and these will be automatically updated in the iBooks app. You can also access Online Content in books, so books are able to go online to show content. An Settings option enables you to switch on or off Online Content.

iBooks remains the best e-book reader on the market, mostly because it syncs all books between all your iOS devices (including ones you have sideloaded via iTunes as well as purchased from iBookstore, unlike Amazon which only syncs books you have purchased). 

OUR VERDICT

iBooks 3 is a free update, and offers a few improved features without changing any of the basic functionality of the app. Getting it is a no-brainer. There’s still a lot we’d like to see from iBooks (not least of which a Mac OS X version). But it remains the best e-book reading experience out there.

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