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Kobo eReading App review

Simon Handby
7 Oct 2012
Our Rating 

A great alternative to Kindle which gives you a wider range of bookstores to choose from

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Kobo’s eReader Touch is our current Best Buy recommendation for those who don't want to commit to Amazon's Kindle system - Amazon's service is great, but doesn't let you shop around, which some may find restrictive. One of the reasons we like Kobo’s reader is the integrated Kobo Books store, which makes finding, buying and getting titles onto the device slick and painless.

As with the Kindle, Kobo's reader and bookstore system includes a selection of free apps to work on various computers and other devices. The Kobo app is available for Macs, PCs and smartphones and tablets running Android or Apple's iOS operating system. Unusually, it's also available for the BlackBerry Playbook tablet and BlackBerry smartphones. Just in case that doesn't cover your particular device, there's also a beta release of a web-based instant reader that ought to work on virtually everything else. We tested the Android app on a Samsung Galaxy S phone, and the iOS app on an iPad.

Kobo Home

The app is rather too keen to get you to sign into Facebook

Kobo's readers and apps include Reading Life, Kobo's own social networking feature designed to stimulate sharing, discussion and debate among readers about the content they're viewing. In many ways it's a good thing, keeping track of interesting stats about your reading and allowing users to compare their notes, understanding and opinions of various works, but for those who'd rather keep their reading personal and private it gets the Kobo experience off to a slightly intimidating start.

Although integrating your reading with Facebook is optional, Reading Life is still somewhat invasive when left to its own devices, flashing up book recommendations in the Android notifications bar and giving patronising awards for doing things as simple as viewing your library of books. Fortunately, most of this behaviour can be turned off, after which it's easy to get on with using the app.

Kobo disable social media

Fortunately you can turn off the social media obsession from within the app

On the comparatively small screen of an Android smartphone, the app consists of an initial view of recently-read titles, with icons underneath to view the full library, access Reading Life or browse the Kobo store. This initial screen isn't available in landscape mode, and neither this nor the library view display the title and author text separately – if it's not visible in the cover art, you'll need to switch to the Library's list view. When reading, options include a choice of day, night and sepia themes along with different font sizes and typefaces. Changes are previewed usefully on some sample text, but there's no option to change the line spacing. The app also lets you mark a section of text and simply highlight it or add a text note.

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