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Inkling’s HTML5 Textbook App Now Live – Only Supports Safari, Chrome

Inkling launched their long promised browser based textbook app today and it’s rather disappointing. Inkling had talked up how the new web app would support everyone, but it turns out that the vast majority of the market isn’t supported; right now Inkling’s app doesn’t work on anything besides Safari and Chrome. That’s barely 30% 38% of the market. But I suppose that’s still an improvement over the iPad app, given that at best one college student in six has an iPad.

So go fire up Chrome and let’s take a look.

Inkling’s app is rather limited in features at the moment, when compared to NookStudy or Kindle for PC. Inkling’s textbooks are PDF style full pages, and you cannot zoom in or out. There’s also no multi-page view or text reflow and printing is also disabled. Annotation is also rather paltry when compared to the competition. You can highlight or attach a (public or private) note to a high light but that’s it.

Copy/paste isn’t supported inside the app, and that’s going to seriously inhibit the usefulness when a student goes to cite a section of the textbook. What’s more, not only does Inkling’s competition (K4PC, NookStudy) allow for copying, both of those apps will also automatically create a citation for the copied text. (This isn’t relevant to Inkling, but I think it’s very cool.)

While the app is missing basic textbook abilities, Inkling does have a few advantages in terms of active content. There is of course the embedded video and 3d model, but there are also more subtle tricks – like the way the Frommers guidebook titles can pull current weather info for the related region and show it inside the ebook; that’s rather cool.

All in all, thanks to the support for rich content this isn’t a bad app – assuming I only want to use content I bought from Inkling.  But as a general academic tool it comes up short against NookStudy and Kindle 4 PC. Those apps are parts of ecosystems which span your PC and numerous other devices, including  ereaders, Android tablets, iPads, and many other devices.

I’ve said before that cross-platform support is important in order to get the most value out of your content. Inkling still hasn’t pulled that off.

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Len Feldman May 30, 2012 um 12:18 pm

Nate, I was able to copy & paste text from the "Professional Chef" sample title on the Inkling website (using Chrome,) so the ability to copy & paste is probably under the publisher’s control.

Nate Hoffelder May 30, 2012 um 1:00 pm

I know that you can do it with Chrome. It’s the app which doesn’t support it and that lack is a poor design. You shouldn’t have to have 2 menus open in order to use such a basic feature.

Len Feldman May 30, 2012 um 1:53 pm

With all due respect, the way that you wrote the article makes it appear that you reviewed the HTML5 version, not the native app. You wrote "So go fire up Chrome and let’s take a look," which makes it appear that the article is a review of the HTML5 version, but from your comment above, you claim that you were actually reviewing the native app (which has been out for months and is hardly news.) So, what exactly is this article–a review of the HTML5 eReader, a review of the app, or a mishmash of the two?

Nate Hoffelder May 30, 2012 um 2:04 pm

I’d like to say that what I’m running inside the web browser is an app, but to be honest the terminology is up for debate. Nevertheless I’m referring to the new HTML5 thingie which was launched today.

Len Feldman May 30, 2012 um 12:20 pm

One update–I was also able to copy and paste from the Frommers title.

Rick May 31, 2012 um 2:27 am

Wow, this is a terrible report. Did you even try it? Half of what you said isn’t even true. Nice work.

Nate Hoffelder May 31, 2012 um 6:51 am

No, I just make shit up as I go along.

Damn, you caught me. My reputation’s ruined.

Luqman June 1, 2012 um 1:24 am

If they support Chrome and Safari, they support the vast majority of the market. Safaria runs on all Macs and Chrome (or Chromium) runs on just about anything. Yes, I’d like Firefox support but I’m sure it’s coming eventually. And you should be fined if you are still using Internet Explorer.

Luqman June 1, 2012 um 1:29 am

Given that Chrome is free as in beer and Chromium is free as in freedom, there’s no legitimate reason to say that they are not supporting the market, given that you count having an iPad app (which you have to install) as supporting that platform.

Phil Rosetta June 3, 2012 um 6:50 pm

"I just make shit up as I go along." It would seem that you do…

"…Safari and Chrome. That’s barely 30% of the market…" — Wrong. Chrome is the most popular browser in the world.

"… text reflow… is disabled…" — Wrong. Widen your browser, watch the text reflow. Did you mean resize?

"Copy/paste isn’t supported … " — Wrong.

Your dislike of Inkling is obvious but how about setting that aside briefly so you can at least get the basic facts correct?

Nate Hoffelder June 3, 2012 um 7:17 pm

I opened the digital textbook I looked at before. I’m changing my browser window width and I still don’t see it reflow. First the entire column is visible, and now it’s half out of the window. No change.

Thanks for pointing out the Chrome issue; the sources I found when I googled this was slightly out of date. Oddly enough, googling for a specific browser market share returns better info than a search for general market shares. And I was off by 8%. I’m sorry, but you’re picking at straws there.

And no, copy paste is not supported by the app. It’s supported by Chrome, and that is a poor design decision. Note the comparison with how NookStudy and K4PC handle copying text. Inkling’s app should do the same thing.

Phil Rosetta June 3, 2012 um 10:13 pm

Reflow: Works for me, text reflows (a little bit) depending on browser width.

Chrome/Safari: According to the Chrome/Safari marketshare is 43%. Stats do vary but even at 38% this is not "picking at straws" — if it was, why correct it? (Note: The phrase is "grasping at straws" and even had you gotten that correct, it’s not the appropriate idiom to use here. Try "splitting hairs." Also, when you’re wrong, correct the mistake. Please don’t insult the person correcting you in the process.)

Copy/Paste: Again, works for me from both Chrome and Safari. "Dementia, a syndrome with many causes, affects >4 million Americans and results in a total health care cost of >$100 billion annually" <– Copied and pasted directly from Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine.

Please do a little more fact checking and testing before writing your posts. Your experience may not be grounds for broad conclusions.

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