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Wednesday August 10, 2011 4:32 pm

Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader is an Apple-circumventing HTML5 browser app

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, Internet, Software

Kindle Cloud Reader

Amazon on Wednesday unveiled its Kindle Cloud Reader, an HTML5-based reading app accessible via the Web.

The feature is accessible at amazon.com/cloudreader and provides access to e-books through the browser, offline and online, with no downloading or installation required, Amazon said. Cloud Reader will automatically sync with other Kindle apps, allowing you to start reading on the Web and pick up on an iPhone or Kindle, for example. Books that you are reading will automatically be made available for offline use.

At this point, Kindle Cloud Reader works with Safari on the iPad and desktop and Google's Chrome.

"We are excited to take this leap forward in our 'Buy Once, Read Everywhere' mission and help customers access their library instantly from anywhere," Dorothy Nicholls, director of Amazon Kindle, said in a statement.  "We have written the application from the ground up in HTML5, so that customers can also access their content offline directly from their browser.  The flexibility of HTML5 allows us to build one application that automatically adapts to the platform you’re using—from Chrome to iOS."

Nicholls said Cloud Reader includes a touch-optimized store, allowing for one-click access to e-books. Readers can also customize page layout via font, text color, background color, and more.

Amazon said Kindle Cloud Reader on the iPad is built for the tablet's size and allows for purchases within Cloud Reader. That's noteworthy because thanks to new Apple policies, users can no longer purchase e-books directly through Amazon's official iOS apps. Those policies take a 30 percent cut of revenue that all publishers earn from e-book purchases—if you bought The Help via the Amazon iPhone app, for example, Amazon would have to hand over 30 percent of the purchase price to Apple. To avoid those fees, Amazon and rivals like Barnes & Noble now sell content via the browser, but cannot link to it from the app.

This is not Amazon's first foray into cloud computing. In March, Amazon unveiled a cloud-based music service that provided users with 5GB of free, online music storage via Amazon Cloud DriveAmazon Cloud Player for Web, and Amazon Cloud Player for Android. The company also has a more enterprise-focused cloud service, which experienced an outage this week that hit high-profile Web firms like Netflix, Foursquare, and Reddit.

Will users sign on for Cloud Reader? A Tuesday study from NPD Group found that many consumers are still not exactly sure what "cloud computing" is, though they use it all the time. Of the 1,800 people polled by NPD, 22 percent were not familiar with the term "cloud computing," though 76 percent have used an Internet-based service in the last 12 months. About 24 percent, meanwhile, purchased desktop-based computer software in the past six months.

"Whether they understand the terminology or not, consumers are actually pretty savvy in their use of cloud-based applications," Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD, said in a statement. "They might not always recognize they are performing activities in the cloud, yet they still rely on and use those services extensively. Even so, they are not yet ready to completely give up on traditional PC-based software applications."

This article, written by Chloe Albanesius, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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