Kindle 3.1 for iOS is a mess

Dear Kobo, I know I’ve been hard on you recently for some sales-minded interface choices, but I’ll give you this: your updates have, in my experience, always worked. I’ve never updated a Kobo app and watched it fall apart in my hands.

You know, like the Kindle 3.1 update for iOS.

I don’t know what happened at Amazon. Maybe some of the iOS team is on vacation. Maybe this update got outsourced and the quality control dropped. Maybe — to be less sarcastic — Apple has made it too damned hard to thoroughly bug test anything before submission anymore. (Having done QA for a couple of major iOS apps recently, I have strong new opinions on that topic.)

What I do know is that the latest iOS update is not fun.

On my iPad, after the update all of my books disappeared, and I had to reinstall the app before I could access anything again. Just to make it more annoying, I only discovered this later when I launched Kindle while offline, so I couldn’t do anything about it for the day.

But the iPhone is where things really went off the rails. First I lost all of my books. Since I’d already gone through this with the iPad version, I deleted and reinstalled the app. Upon reinstallation I was able to download ebooks, but the graphic novel I purchased as a test case consistently triggered a crash as soon as the app tried to download it. (Officially, Amazon doesn’t even say the iPhone version supports graphic novels yet, but on the other hand it showed up in my list of downloadable titles, so I figured it was worth a shot.) After all that, any downloaded ebook title with DRM refused to open and I got a warning that I should try re-registering the app, so I deregistered and re-registered, then re-downloaded my books once more.

Then it worked. To my surprise even the graphic novel downloaded and opened, after a couple of attempts where it seemed to stall out right at the end.

My advice: if you don’t intend to view Kindle graphic novels on your Apple device, avoid this update and wait for the next one, which I have a feeling will be coming along any day now. If you decide to go for it, then make sure you have syncing turned on so your bookmarks and highlights will be backed up first, and be prepared for the possibility that you might have to reinstall and/or re-register the app.

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