Books back

You don't hear as much these days as you used to about the fact that Apple controls what programs can be installed on an iPhone or iPad. But it's still true, and every now and then it can lead to a bit of an internet panic.

Such a panic happened yesterday when several popular e-reading apps, including Amazon's Kindle app and Google's Books app, disappeared from the App Store. You see, this week is the deadline for these apps to comply with the recently-revised app store rules, which force apps including links to subscription services or stores - like, for example, the Kindle app's link to Amazon's mobile site - to remove their links or allow users to buy content through Apple's in-app purchase system. That, of course, would allow Apple to take a 30% cut.

But today, the missing apps are back - in updated forms. They've lost any link to an external way of buying books, so you have to manually go online and search for 'Amazon' or 'Google Books' to get content. But they still work, and they've managed to get away without paying Apple a cut.

Will the extra hassle make people less likely to buy books through these apps? Probably. But the app makers have put in clear instructions. The Kindle app, for example, now explains: 'In order to comply with recent policy changes by Apple, we’ve also removed the “Kindle Store” link from within the app that opened Safari and took you to the Kindle Store. You can still shop as you always have – just open Safari and go to www.amazon.com/kindlestore. If you want, you can bookmark that URL. Your Kindle books will be delivered automatically to your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, just as before.'

Of course, there's one app in the App Store which you can buy books in: Apple's own iBooks. They'll be hoping that added convenience pushes readers to adopt that bookstore. What do you think, readers? What's your reading app of preference? Or do you find the whole idea of reading on your phone or tablet a bit dumb?

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