Amazon has just released a version 1.1 update to its free Kindle app for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and it sees a number of improvements over the 1.0 release.
This update follows another smaller update a few weeks ago that added an iPhone-optimized Kindle store (which you still have to access via Safari, but at least the interface is now more mobile-friendly).
Two and a half months ago, Amazon released its free Kindle application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that lets you read Kindle books on the devices without having to purchase the expensive e-book from Amazon. If you were an existing Kindle owner, you could also take advantage of the Kindle application thanks to Amazon's Whispersync, which would sync both libraries, and you could pick up reading where you left off.
The reading experience is not as pleasant as on the dedicated e-book reader due to the smaller and backlit screen, but at least it's an option for those who didn't want the Kindle hardware.
With the version 1.1 update however, the reading experience on the Kindle is ever so slightly improved. For one thing, you can now switch the view from portrait to landscape mode if you prefer to read that way. You also have the option to "lock" the phone in either portrait or landscape mode thanks to a padlock icon to the lower right. We actually wished more iPhone apps had this feature since sometimes we wished things didn't rotate when we didn't want them to.
One of my favorite new features, though, is that you can now change the background and text color combination so that reading is easier on the eyes. Black text on a white background can be harsh, especially with a backlit screen like the iPhone's. You can now choose a gray text on black background option, or a dark and light sepia option. Our personal favorite was the sepia tone.
Also, you can now turn pages by just tapping the screen, and you can pinch to zoom in and out on images.
It seems that Amazon's acquisition of Stanza, another popular e-book reader application for the iPhone, has done the Kindle app good. The addition of the landscape orientation, the tap to turn function, and the ability to pinch to zoom in, are definitely features we've seen in Stanza before. We would recommend getting this new version of the Kindle application if you like reading e-books on your iPhone or iPod Touch.