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iFlow reader takes reading down the wrong path

iFlow Reader is getting a lot of attention today. This is a new reading app for iOS, with different versions for iPhone and iPad. While it comes with a good set of reading options, iFlow’s one big pitch point is that it abandons page turns in favor of scrolling.

This is so not a good idea.

Did you know that the new trend in long form web content is pagination? Yep, designers are starting to use HTML5 to move away from scrolling because if the article is long enough pagnation provides a better experience.

You might recall that I showed you a demo project last month. Of course, they were looking at it as tablet style reading, but I liked it for the pagination.

I don’t have any hard data on this, just my personal experience. (But if you know anyone else who examines the act of reading while they’re reading, I want to speak to them.)  As I mentioned in the related post, I’ve found myself abandoning web articles because they were too long to read comfortably. I believe my discomfort was caused by scrolling.

Of course, there’s a chance that the iFlow Reader will prove me wrong. But I don’t expect that to happen.

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Dennis Morin December 27, 2010 um 12:51 pm

Needles to say, I disagree strongly with your conclusions. First of all, we did not abandon paging. If that is your preference, you can read page by page to your hearts content. What we did was to abandon the arbitrary page breaks of paper books in favor of virtual page breaks that can be anywhere on the "page". This means that you can precisely adjust the "page" to have what you want on it instead of what ends up there as a result of a fixed approach to paging. This can be very useful when reading a recipe in a cookbook or studying a piece of computer code, etc, With some material, having half on one page and half on another is not as useful. iFlow gives the reader complete control. As far as scrolling, we offere a number of ways to read in this mode. It too offers many advantages that may not be immediately obvious. The most significant is probably that it makes reading s book on a small screen device like an iPhone a very reasonable thing to do because it lets you use a larger font without having the distraction of turning a page every second or two. With tilt-controlled autoscrolling, it becomes a totally immersive experience and most people who take the time to learn how to use it properly come to love it. I have seen this phenomenon over and over again when I explain to someone how to use it. They are always uncomfortable at first because it is so different, but then they embrace it totally.

Beyond the issue of our approach to pagination, there are all of the other innovative features that are targeted at ebooks of the future, not paper books of the past. The History Log and Navigator provide the only feature to deal with hyperlink jumps of any reader out there. The Bookmark Navigator provides an exceptional way to review your bookmarks, which is great for students. It is also the only ebook reader in existence that is fully integrated. You can do lookups on Google or Wikipedia, send emails, post to Facebook, buy books or whatever without ever leaving the application. No one else does this!

Add to all this the fact that we are an open reading system. You can buy a book from Google, Kobo, Diesel, or any other bookseller that supports the epub format with or without Adobe DRM, and import it into your iFlow Reader. And then there are the tens of thousands of free books in our ebook store, our unique website at…There is just much, much more to see than your article lets on. Sometimes, with real innovation it takes a while to get it.

Darryl Adams December 27, 2010 um 7:50 pm

In their presentation posted on their website, Kobo did number crunch reader styles, and people preferred paging over scrolling. However there would be a market for scrolling, how big I dont know (but Kobo would).

Ideally an app should do both, so you can get both preferences in the market

mart December 28, 2010 um 5:26 am

iFlow does both..

Dave G December 28, 2010 um 8:34 pm

I much prefer the iFlow scroll over, for example, the iPhone Nook app. Flicking my thumb every 15 seconds for the next page is not an enjoyable way to read.

Greg Kyser February 17, 2011 um 4:40 am

I think all of you are taking this way too seriously. Who cares about page turning? I don’t care. The portability of electronic information is awesome in itself. It beats scrolls and stone.

So flick or scroll yourself to death….

Chris March 23, 2011 um 10:57 pm

iFlow is very good, but I just can’t understand why functionality has been reduced from the old Beam-it-Down. (Must be the only software company in the world – except of course Microsoft – that "upgrades" a product by making it worse!)
Why can’t I choose font anymore? Why can’t I have grey text on black background (great for reading in bed, not disturbing partner)
And why oh why oh why do I have to try to browse books by looking at crappy representations of covers – just author and title in plain easy to read font – web site is just as bad. I can understand you want a representation of the actual cover, but how about plain text author and title below.

Otherwise – great job!

elmonica March 24, 2011 um 7:04 am

For sure there is a need/place for scrolling in the non-fiction and technical eBook arena. This is why pdf reading is often preferable for technical non-fiction genere. If it can be done with EPUB and switch between the two approaches, then kudos to them.

Sairah Bashir July 30, 2011 um 1:12 pm

I must say, the iFlow reader is the only one I use. It was like a punch to the gut when they shut down (but at least I can still kind of sort of use the app stil…)

The scrolling is great, the little Blackberry-esque bean is awesome, you can do pagination if you so choose–what’s not to love?! I don’t use the tilt scrolling, but that’s my personal preference.

Ugh, iFlow developers, please release it as a standalone reading app–I’d gladly fork over $20 for it. Or do like a monthly subscription or something, I love your app and can’t stand the other readers!

*ahem* I’m done.

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