April 23, 2014 Last Updated 8:26 am

Amazon updates Kindle reading app; Apple issues updates to iWork apps following complaints

The Kindle reading app for iOS devices has been updated by Amazon.com. As of this morning, the same update has not yet been issued for the Google Play store.

screen480x480The update to the app with the rather long name of Kindle – Read Books, eBooks, Magazines, Newspapers & Textbooks adds access to the Table of Contents for most books within the left panel navigation menu, where the reader can see chapter headings and page numbers.

The update also includes “X-Ray Smart Look-Up”: “Look up Amazon exclusive X-Ray information without ever leaving the page. Select a word or name and learn more about the concept, person, or place in the Info Card provided at the bottom of the page.”

The Kindle app gets generally good marks from iOS owners inside iTunes. The main complaint, to be expected, is that one can not buy books directly from the app, as Amazon avoids giving Apple its fee by not including in-app purchasing. Recently there have also been some complaints of books that disappear or can not be accessed by the app. The problem is probably due to the fact that the reader must identify their device through the Amazon.com website, then purchases can be made available to the new device.

If iOS users are generally happy with Amazon, the same can not be said for Apple’s own apps, which have been getting user complaints of late. To try and address some of those complaints, Apple last night issued updates for their iWork apps: Pages, Keynote and Numbers. In each case Apple simply says the updates are bug related: “This update contains stability improvements and bug fixes.”

Pages-icon-2014To say that user reviews are mixed is to be generous. Complaints range from documents that will not open, to the lack of folder, to difficulties with sharing or deleting documents.

Now that Microsoft has launched apps for its Microsoft Office suite users are finding, often to their surprise, that Apple’s software offerings are less attractive, even on iOS devices. Software development and app store management are my two biggest concerns about the Apple of today versus recent years. While many tech writers are pining for a break-through new product, my concern is the deterioration of quality control of the company’s software. While new hardware usually gets the attention of the press, it should be remembered that software makes things happen.

Apple has also just issued a security update that will require a restart (hate those) and Macrumors says an update to FaceTime has also been issued (though I have not seen that one come through). The update is only for Mac OS 10.7 users as even they can’t seem to fix the issues with their own software for OS 10.6 users and are telling customer to update their OS if they want to use FaceTime.

After the bell today Apple will be reporting Q2 earnings (January through March is the second quarter of Apple’s fiscal year). Some analysts forecast lower iPad sales versus the same level in 2013 where the company sold nearly 19.5 million units. Sales of devices are usually lower in Q2 as Q1 includes the holiday shopping season, and this year the iPad mini was still relatively new. Nonetheless, word is that sales will disappoint, but is this just setting up Apple to “blow through its numbers” again, or an attempt to leak bad news early to diffuse its impact? We’ll see this afternoon.

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