Wednesday Amazon launched the Kindle Cloud Reader, an HTML5-based app that runs within Google Chrome and Apple Safari browsers. And while the launch seemingly spits in Apple's face by bypassing the App Store "tax," don't pull out the torches and pitchforks just yet: this reader app is rather limited in its overall reach to Kindle users.
As it stands now, the Kindle Cloud Reader works with Chrome for the Mac, PC, Linux and Chromebook. On the Safari front, it works on the Mac, PC and iPad using iOS 4 or greater. That said, you can't use the app on the iPhone, iPod Touch or any of the Android devices. Consumers trying to access the HTML5 reader with anything other than what's listed will receive a "your browser isn't supported yet" error.
But it's a start. Users can get instant access to their Kindle library and read books either online or offline – Kindle will automatically synchronize your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights regardless the device or connection. Kindle Cloud Reader is even optimized for the iPad and lets all users shop for books within the integrated Kindle Store. (How you like them apples, Apple?)
"We are excited to take this leap forward in our 'Buy Once, Read Everywhere' mission and help customers access their library instantly from anywhere," said Dorothy Nicholls, Director, Amazon Kindle. "We have written the application from the ground up in HTML5, so that customers can also access their content offline directly from their browser. The flexibility of HTML5 allows us to build one application that automatically adapts to the platform you're using - from Chrome to iOS. To make it easy and seamless to discover new books, we've added an integrated, touch optimized store directly into Cloud Reader, allowing customers one click access to a vast selection of books."
Kindle Cloud Reader will be available on additional web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, the BlackBerry PlayBook browser, and other mobile browsers, in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Walmart is also bypassing Apple's "taxation" by launching an updated interface for its VUDU video streaming service. While the retailer doesn't actually specify it as an HTML5-based app, the VUDU.com website has been optimized for iPad viewers so that they can easily purchase or rent video and stream through any iPad-based browser. The only drawback is that video is available only in Standard Definition due to licensing restrictions – all Disney content seems to be unavailable as well.
"Beginning today, iPad users can go to VUDU.com and browse through VUDU's entertainment content library, which includes more than 20,000 blockbusters, Hollywood classics, independent films and TV episodes, then rent or purchase and watch them instantly," the company said. "For one touch access to VUDU, customers can add a VUDU icon to their iPad desktops by clicking the "Add to Home Screen" button when on VUDU.com."
Movies purchased and/or rented on the iPad can also be viewed on Walmart.com/VUDU, VUDU.com or on any VUDU-enabled consumer electronics device including the PlayStation 3 console and more than 300 additional devices spanning Internet-capable HDTVs and Blu-ray Disc players.