Sony's Reader Android app arrives late and is lacking

by Ian Black

Have you joined the e-book revolution yet? With the publishing of its new Reader app for Android, Sony completes the picture. Now, all of the top-seller e-book device makers — Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony — offer e-book apps for Android. If you own a Sony Reader device, you'll enjoy this new app. If not, you'll find this 1.0 app doesn't match the features of the apps for the Nook and Kindle, so it won't be as compelling.

Upon launch, you're asked to set up an account with Sony's bookstore. I don't have exact numbers, but it feels like the Sony store is not nearly as comprehensive as Amazon's. All the e-book stores seem focused on closing deals with additional publishers and on getting authors outside the traditional book-publishing eco-system into their stores, so expect more books in Sony's store this year.

The Reader app works well enough, but the features aren't up to par with the Nook and Kindle apps. To get you started, the app includes a couple of new books and a couple of public domain "classics" already loaded. Typical features like search, bookmarks, landscape and portrait views and touch paging forward and back, are all here. Highlighting is particularly cool — touch and hold, then drag the little circle shape to include all the text you want to highlight.

What’s missing? A fair amount including — locking landscape or portrait mode against accidental flip, dictionary lookup or using book content as search words out on the web, and synchronization of furthest reading point between reader device and phone.

Overall, Reader is a good start for Sony but there will have to be quick improvements before it's at the same level as the e-book front-runners.