WHSmith is the UK’s first eReader iPad App

17 October 2010

WHSmith is the UK’s first eReader iPad App

A few days back WHSmith released their own Apple iPad app, beating Waterstones (Waterstones App is not an eReader) as the UK's first integrated eReader/Store app on the iOS platform.

The overall look and feel of the app is very nice, reflecting the same dark blue colour scheme from their website, and with other aspects of their user interface looking very nice. Navigation and book finding is not too bad, with several sections (bestselling, recommend, categories, etc.) to help you find what you're looking for. However, once you view the books from a particular sections, you only get to see 5 titles at a time.

I've only purchased a couple of free titles but this process is pretty straight forward and if you don't have an account already, they have implemented a quick registration feature to get you started.

One disappointment is that my current whsmith.co.uk account details don't work in the app, you have to create a separate account. This means that whatever books you buy from the website are not available in the app, and vice-versa.

Bugs - Another Rushed Release iPad App

There are some bugs in this initial release, which are severe enough that they make me think WHSmith have rushed this app out the door without proper testing.

  • When starting the app there has been several times when the book store would just not load (also preventing general access to the app), and only a restart has resolved this.
  • Font resizing is slow and can crash the app. It's so slow in fact that I didn't think it had worked at first, so I pressed the increase and decrease buttons several times--perhaps the reason the app crashed on me.

eBook Reading

There's not much you can say about the eReader in this app, mostly because there are few actual features! Here's a list of the features you do get;

  • Brightness
  • Font Size (which is buggy)
  • Font Type (Baskerville, Georgia, Palatino, Times New Roman, Verdana)
  • Sepia Mode
  • Table of Contents

That's not a lot and what's especially suprising is that there is no way to skip forward, not even a goto page feature.

It's great that UK book stores are moving to eBooks but they're not giving themselves a good rep by releasing what is a pretty average app. Hopefully Waterstones' delay in releasing their app is so that they can do a good job of it.