Amazon has released a major update to its Kindle app for Android, and it basically turns any Android phone or tablet into a Kindle Fire… assuming you don’t want to stream videos from Amazon Instant Video, because the app won’t do that.
What it will do is let you access Kindle Format 8 files including illustrated children’s books, comic books, and graphic novels.
The latest Kindle app also supports Amazon’s “personal documents” service. When you register the app on your Android device, Amazon will assign you an email address. You can then send documents to that email address and they’ll automatically be sent to your device. If you’ve already emailed documents to another Kindle eReader they’ll show up in the “archive” tab for the new Kindle app so you can download them to your device.
Documents sounds boring… but here’s the thing. You can email your DRM-free books as long as they’re in a supported format such as PDF, MOBI, DOC, or HTML. So if you’ve purchased books or downloaded free books from another store, you can read them on a Kindle device using the latest app.
Up until recently those features were only available for official Kindle hardware and the Kindle app for iOS.
Like books purchased from Amazon, personal documents sent to your device can also be synchronized across multiple devices. So you can start reading a document on your Android phone and pick up where you left off on your Kindle Touch.
If you’re wondering why Amazon is offering so many of the features that had been exclusive to the Kindle and Kindle Fire eReaders in apps that run on the iPad, iPhone, and Android phones and tablets, there’s a simple explanation. Amazon doesn’t really make any money on Kindle hardware. In fact, the company might actually lose money. What Amazon wants is to provide devices and services that lock you into the Amazon ecosystem.
Amazon executives don’t really care if you’re buying eBooks to read on a Kindle Touch or a Samsung Galaxy Tab. So it would be foolish not to offer these features on all possible devices.
One thing I still can’t figure out though, is why the Kindle app for iPad is better organized than the latest Android app. It provides separate tabs for books, newsstand, and docs, while the Android app just throws everything together under “archive.” Hopefully a future update will make sorting through your content on an Android device easier.