Amazon had to remove the Store button from its Kindle app for iPad a few weeks ago, to avoid having its app removed from the Apple store altogether. Apple says that all sales from an app must use Apple's own API and must remit 30% of every sale to Apple. Apple also prohibits links to stores on one's own site. The new Kindle app is the same as the old, except it's missing the Kindle store button.
We knew that wouldn't last long. Today. Amazon released a new web-based Kindle app called Cloud Reader.
A web-based app, in contrast to an iOS app is just a little program that works through the browser. It can do almost as much as an iOS app but has several advantages:
1. Web apps (like websites in general) do not need Apple's approval. Indeed, Apple has no control over the contents of a web app. It could, however, conceivably limit a web app's power and access to iPad features, like the accelerometer (sp?).
2. A web app can be updated automatically without the user's interaction. That means Amazon (or whoever) can add features without having to wait for anyone else (like Apple) to approve such additions or for users to download an upgrade.
3. A web app can download information to the iPad—including data (like ebooks) and even the app itself—so that it can continue to work when the user does not have internet access. Amazon's books are initially available directly through the cloud, but if you click them, they are downloaded to your iPad.
And voilà. Amazon's Cloud Reader, complete with downloadable books, and the all important link to the Kindle Store:
A little pop-up message reminds you that you can "install" the app (that is bookmark the app's web address to your home page) by clicking the bookmark icon and then choosing "Add to Home Screen" from the pop-up menu that appears.
Then the web app (which is really just a Safari bookmark) will appear on your Desktop (can you tell my kids have been using my iPad!?)
Curiously, when you access the web app through the bookmark, it appears without any Safari header. And indeed, looks a lot like the regular Kindle app.
Here is the same book accessed through the Cloud Reader directly from Safari:
I don't think I know enough about how apps work to explain that. If you know, I'd be happy to hear about it in the comments.
It will be interesting to see if Apple continues to try to enforce its 30% take on everything sold through iOS. I can't see how they can possibly do it, but what do I know.
The other thing to take away is Amazon's perhaps obvious insistence on being available on the iPad (the app doesn't work for iPhone yet). And to me, that continues to point to Amazon supporting EPUB and all of the wonderful things you can do with it.