Wednesday, June 19, 2013

UI HALL OF SHAME: The Kindle App

Alright, this is less "hall of shame" and more "time for Kirk to gripe", but...

The Amazon Kindle application is pretty decent. One thing that bugs me though is it has no way of categorizing books... it just shows them as one big pile with few sort options. People have been asking for this feature for years, and it's present on the Desktop app and some of the physical devices, but for some reason Amazon doesn't think it's a worthy addition. (Personally, I don't want to obsessively sort stuff, just establish a "read this sometime" pile.)

Here's another thing: the app has a decent enough "progress bar" showing where you are in the book, but it's always the full, cover-to-cover content of the book. Some books have giant indexes or reference sections that no one is going to page through, but it still counts against the current progress. And the thing is, I know that the books have a concept of "beginning and end of the main content" because A. it annoyingly hops me to "page 1" when I open a new book, sometimes bypassing interesting covers and dedications and introductions and B. it also annoyingly pops up a "rate this book!" dialog when I finish the last page of the main content. (Again, I think the older devices handled this a little better, with little markers on the scrollbar showing where various chapters begin... better than the generic single-value scrollbar the apps use.)

As a developer, I try to have an understanding of the cost of features... nothing comes for free, sometimes there are hidden complications or competing factors, and everything takes development hours and QA, but still it's frustrating when the "bang for the buck" ratio seems pretty good and nothing is done.

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