Kobo: My favourite eReader app just got better

I logged onto iTunes this weekend to discover that my favourite eBook reader app just got better. Kobo introduced version 4.5 of its iPad app.

This version includes something I’ve been eager to see: proper handling of footnotes. With this feature, I can simply click on the number of an end-note to be taken directly to it. Once I read the note, I can click on its number and I’m returned to the main text. Simple. A great timesaver.

This feature adds to an already great application that allows me to:

  • Highlight passages in the text and add my own notes to them;
  • Share passages that catch my attention via both twitter and Facebook; and
  • Download books in ePub format that I can read on virtually any device – a Kobo eReader, my iPad, my Sony reader, an Android device.

Kobo’s slogan is “eReading: anytime. anyplace.” They make good on that promise. Having used iTunes for my music and now realizing that Apple’s strategy is to keep me locked into their products, I’m reluctant to go down that path with eBooks. So that pretty much rules out both iBooks and Amazon for me. I like Kobo’s commitment to openness. It’s good for competition. It’s good for the publishing industry. And it’s good for me, the reader.

Of course, nothing is perfect.

I have had one problem with the Kobo eReading app on my iPad. On three occasions over the past year, the application has frozen. The only way that I could get it to work again was to reset the iPad. Each time, I lost all of my locally stored data. That means my highlights and annotations. For someone like me who writes a lot of notes to refer back to later, that’s a big problem.

I hope that Kobo is looking at making it possible for readers to back up our notes on their server. This could have the added benefit of enabling me to download my notes to any device on which I’m reading – syncing my notes between devices. I think this should be feasible for Kobo. Already, we are able to share our notes with friends via their servers. It should be a relatively easy thing to enable us to save those notes to be download the next time we resync a second or new device.

If they’d do that, they’d make their already great app almost perfect.