cultura informatica libri tecnologia

Why the new Apple’s iBooks for iOS is so bad and ugly.

The new icon.
The new icon.

The new iOS iBooks version is the worst thing ever happened to me since switching to Apple (with a G4 Mac mini).

I was quiet happy with previous version of iBooks, and eager to eventually use it on the Mac too with Mavericks, while with the new one for iOS the reading experience got from pleasant to really shitty.

This is what I dislike the most.

  • The general new design (Apple introduced it as a “marvellous new design” but, as they say: marvellous my ass). This is not adhering to new iOS7’s design tendencies and principles, this is just bad work or rather lack of a decent work at all. Go see for yourself. It’s ugly, and pointless, while many other apps, renewed for iOS7, look refreshed, cleaner and better. Minimalism does not mean just taking away without thinking what to put in instead.

  • The highlighting color. This is where the bad work done on design generates issues. If you highlight some part of the text, you can hardly read it again, specially with the darker colors. This disrupt many workflows of mine, for I am an avid commenter and highlighter of books.

  • The sharing features. I am also fond of sharing, I even create a group on Facebook where like-minded people can share books’s excerpts. While the sharing features into previous version was fine, the one coded into the present one is awful and almost useless: if you share something via mail, you end up with a cluttered mail with

    • today’s date (what is the point? And who should care?)
    • mail subject populated with data from the books (while with previous iBooks it was empty and an handy place to write down some quick remark)
    • the message’s body starts with the name of the chapter (who the fuck should care? Since when when quoting a books you tell the name of the chapter? It’s just bloating)
    • then you finally get the excerpts, but after that you get again the books data, the same ones already included into the subject, and into my language the translation is wrong

If you post such a mess into social network or a personal note of yours, you are posting something difficult to read and just … messy to see, search, review, handle, etc..

This is a shame, for iBooks is a staple in my everyday work as a lawyer and my general life as a reader. A good eco system for reading should be a key strategy for Apple, otherwise many people could go kindle or Android (which I have not myself as yet only because of ubiquitous iBooks).

I noticed some other quirks, with mobile Safari and JavaScript and have been victim of the gmail + Maverick mail mess and I think Apple at the present time does not offer the same quality level it used to offer since a couple of years ago. The difference was into details, now those details are gone and they were sometimes even replaced with issues instead.

I would have switched to Android, but I do not like google either. And on the desktop, I won’t leave my Mac work environment even if Ubuntu is a great project, but I won’t update the OS as soon as it is released any more, but will wait some months (something windows users used to do).

I have no clue as wether iBooks will be fixed, and even if other ones consider this a mess like I do (I sow some pretty angry reviews on the app store and some complaining onto mobileread forums), so I guess Ill just wait and see, meanwhile using some good other apps like Marvin which though lacks a Mac version.

cultura informatica libri tecnologia

How to use Marvin’s custom command to share books’ passages to facebook groups.

And there I go with one of my year 2014′ proposals: start blogging in English as well. I guess I’ll keep blogging in Italian for those topics interesting for people living in Italy, mostly law ones, while use English for the matters which can be useful to everybody. Enjoy!


Most of you know that the app I would suggest everyone as ePub reader on iOS is Marvin 1 . It’s today an universal one and a really well crafted application, with plenty of space to improve. So, if you like me love reading ebooks on iDevices, trash the lame Apple’s iBooks, which lately got even worse, and get Marvin.

With Marvin, you can have custom command to perform on selected text passages of books. You define up to five custom command into settings, then if you select some text they pop up and you can choose them to perform action on the selected text.

You can use custom commands for many things such as search with google, open some app and query it (f.i.: search Terminology with the selected word)

Being a share junkie, I wrote a couple of them to send some text to some groups of mine into facebook, and I thought I would share them, maybe they can be useful to you as well.

Now, there are 2 ways to post to a facebook group via mail: using the group’s own mail address, if the admin created it. Or through an IFTTT receipt.

This is the string you have to insert into custom command menu if you want to use the group own email address:{text}%22%0D%0A%0D%0A({author}%2C%20%22{title}%22).

That way you’ll be using the mailto: custom URL and Marvin’s predefined variables to generate a message with both the book’s excerpt and its author and title.

But posting via mail to a facebook group is buggy and sometimes it does not work.

So you can use IFTTT instead. Build a receipt with tagged mail as a trigger and post to facebook group as action. Then use as custom menu command a line like that:{text}%22%0D%0A%0D%0A({author}%2C%20%22{title}%22)&subject=#tpaleo

What is the point in building such a sharing custom command if Marvin already provides sharing features? Of course, that way you can customize mail’s content and appearance, and that’s just the reason why I did it. Plus, it’s more handy to have it at the first pop-up level, so that you can tap straight away.

Have a nice reading!

  1. While for PDF I’d suggest instead Readdle PDF Expert 5, together with Dropbox, but maybe we’ll talk about it into another post.