There are hundreds of thousands of iPad and iPhone apps in every category at the iTunes App Store. Just like photo apps (I bet you’ve downloaded more than one), you can use a few book-reading apps, not one.
There is no need to limit yourself to a single app. Especially when this app doesn’t meet all your reading needs.
Even your favorite book-reading application is not perfect. It’s nearly perfect, at most. And “nearly” can be fixed by using extra apps that do what your main app doesn’t.
You can use additional apps to improve reading speed, motivate you to read more, get extra features (such as instant translations to/from less common languages, or powerful integrations with your favorite service), or listen to audiobooks.
You will find this list helpful if you are looking for ways to turn your new iPad into an ultimate reading machine. You will also find it helpful if reading more books is on your list of 2018 resolutions.
These apps will become excellent reading companion on the newest iPad 9.7, released in March 2018, latest-generation iPad Pro models, but also older Apple tablets.
Is there an app you are using, but it’s not included in the list? Would you mind sharing it in the comments or via our social media profiles? Thanks a lot!
Best iOS book apps to try in 2018
1. Marvin 3
Top places in the Books category of Apple iTunes App Store are occupied by free apps from major ebookstores, such as Kindle, Kobo, or Nook. It’s easy to overlook the most versatile and advanced independent book-reading app for iOS – Marvin.
Marvin, now in the 3rd generation, is packed with so many features you are guaranteed to discover and admire new ones months after you download the app to your iPhone or iPad.
In short, Marvin can read DRM-free ebooks (epub format) and comics (cbx, cbr formats), and sync them via either iCloud or Dropbox.
The app offers tons of personalization options, including several themes to choose from (premium version), beautiful fonts, page formatting options, and automatic night theme switching. It has something you can call a built-in Night Shift. You can adjust page warmth, dimming, and brightness on top of Apple’s default blue light control feature.
The biggest advantage of Marvin for power users is extensive key command management. You can customize the commands you are most frequently using while reading a book. The number of options at hand is impressive (Amazon would rather call it “unlimited”). You can customize translation or sharing options, with ready-to-use preset integrations to Goodreads, Wikipedia, Google Maps, or Merriam-Webster dictionary. You can customize the template message you share on social media or via email.
It’s amazing to discover that an independent app developer has managed to create a highly advanced feature giants like Amazon would be proud to offer. Just read: “Artificial intelligence that reads your books and helps you discover great things about them, their authors, characters, places, events, and everything else.” Doesn’t it sound like Kindle’s X-Ray?
Marvin is always first keeping up with the latest possibilities iOS gives to users. The app is optimized for latest iOS models (iPad Pro and iPhone X among them) and technologies (Split View, Today Widget, Touch ID).
Marvin 3 gives the user so many personalization options that at some point one could start thinking who created the app – the developer or the reader.
Benefits: powerful personalization options, customizable commands and powerful reference tools, syncing via iCloud and Dropbox
Price: Free, Premium for $4.99
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone
Kindle for iOS is one of these apps you had probably tried once. It’s one of the most popular book-reading apps in the App Store.
Everyone who owned a Kindle e-reader, downloaded the app to the iPhone and iPad, just to compare the reading experience and test library sync feature.
The app is constantly improving, keeping up with upgrades of the iOS, but – most importantly – improvements of the Amazon ebook-reading ecosystem.
In October 2017, Kindle for iOS was revamped to bring an enhanced reading experience, unified look between iOS and Android, or dramatically better library management and book discovery.
Kindle is the most advanced book-reading app in the Apple’s iTunes App Store. It offers features you already know, such as X-Ray reference tool, Page Flip in-book navigation, access to library ebooks, or Send to Kindle iOS Share Menu button.
On top of that, Kindle for iOS is now extremely well connected to Amazon’s subscription-based services: Kindle Unlimited ($9.99-per-month unlimited access to 1.8 million ebooks, comic books, and magazines) and Prime Reading (a part of Amazon Prime – gives free access to a rotating list of over 1,000 ebooks and magazines).
My favorite feature of the app is Whispersync for Voice. With it, reading an ebook and listening to an audiobook is not “either or” any longer.
Whispersync for Voice technology lets you seamlessly switch between reading a Kindle ebook and listening to its audiobook version. All happens in a few taps! Even better, you continue digesting the book at the location where you left off.
Benefits: advanced reference tools, Whispersync for Voice lets switch between reading and listening, read-later feature via Send to Kindle button
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone
3. Apple Books
Apple’s own book-reading app (previously called iBooks, and now Apple Books) rarely gets an update. It usually happens with the introduction of the new iOS.
Apple Books app released in September 2018 is worth trying. It offers major improvements, making it more up-to-date than ever before.
Among the biggest changes, there is a quick start section called Reading Now, better library management, and automatic night theme.
Reading Now puts together the titles that are currently in use, making it easier than before to resume reading.
But Reading Now includes also books that the user might consider buying. A good move from Apple, having in mind that it’s the only book-reading app in the App Store that offers full support for in-app purchases, not only free samples.
So, under the books that you’ve purchased, you will see titles that you’ve added to your wish list. Swipe down, and you will see recommendations from Apple’s bookstore in a few popular categories.
The bookstore has a dedicated section. The homepage includes lists of trending books, plus top charts in paid and free categories. When you tap the menu icon in the top right corner, you will also access trending titles in most popular genres.
The biggest improvement, however, is the introduction of the Auto-Night mode. It’s like the dark theme, which can be enabled automatically when it gets dark. What’s important, the dark theme applies not only to the book-reading view but also to the library.
Benefits: easy to use, built-in bookstore, automatic night theme
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone
Are you looking for convenient ways to read free ebooks on your iPad or iPhone? You may be surprised to discover you can do it using your library card.
And there is an awesome app that will let you start reading library ebooks in no time. It’s called Libby.
Libby offers a next-generation approach to managing and digesting digital content. First, it’s a combination of the book reader and audiobook player, because libraries offer not only ebooks but also audiobooks.
Are wondering how much time you would need to associate Libby with your local library account? Keep calm. All you need to do is find your library card and download Libby from the App Store.
The setup process is easy. Libby, powered by OverDrive, will help you find your library and sign in. Everything happens in a few taps. More than 30,000 libraries in 40 countries are connected to OverDrive’s catalog of 2 million ebooks, audiobooks, and videos.
Libby’s most outstanding feature is the ability to sign up with multiple library cards. For instance, you can use the card from your school library and the second one from the local branch of the public library system offering books in your neighborhood.
Why is it important? If you want to read a hot new bestseller, you may wait in a queue in one library, but you may borrow it immediately in the other.
Libby’s next killer feature is a unified catalog where all your loans, from all connected libraries, and in all supported formats, are displayed.
Paraphrasing Laura Bush, “I have found the most valuable thing in my smartphone is my Libby app.”
Benefits: easily borrow ebooks and audiobooks from a public library, ability to use multiple library cards, beautiful, user-friendly, next-generation interface
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone
Latest Apple iPad models
Together with links to tech specs and best case covers.
Apple iPad mini 7.9 (2019)
The world’s favorite compact tablet now comes with Apple Pencil 1 support and A12 Bionic chip with Neural Engine, three times the performance and nine times faster graphics. Prices start from $399.
Apple iPad 9.7 (2018)
2048 × 1536 px Retina display, Apple Pencil support, Touch ID, A10 Fusion chip with M10 coprocessor. Prices start from $299 for education institutions.
Apple iPad Air 10.5 (2019)
An ultra-thin design with the A12 Bionic chip and advanced Retina display with True Tone. Supports Apple Pencil 1 and the smart Keyboard. Prices start from $499.
Apple iPad Pro 11 (2018)
11-inch edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display with ProMotion technology, Apple Pencil 2 support, Face ID, A12X Bionic chip and Neural Engine, high-speed high-speed USB-C connector. Prices start from $799.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
12.9-inch Liquid Retina 2732 × 2048 px LED-backlit Multi‑Touch display with ProMotion technology, Apple Pencil 2 support, Face ID, A12X Bionic chip and Neural Engine, high-speed USB-C connector. Prices start from $999.
5. Google Play Books
No matter which book-reading app is your primary choice, Google Play Books provides a set of features that make it a great solution for your reading needs that are still not met.
First of all, for millions of Gmail users, Google Play Books is the easiest way to start reading ebooks on their new iPads and iPhones. You don’t need to register for a new service (such as Kobo or Barnes & Noble Nook) to start reading ebooks.
Secondly, if you’ve switched from an Android-powered phone or tablet, and used Google Play Books there, you’ll find a familiar interface on the iOS device. What’s even more important, you’ll have your book library synced.
A benefit of the Google Play ecosystem is an easy access to your book library from a web browser. If you want to read a lot of ebooks online on your computer, you don’t have to download any special app to start reading. A web browser, such as Google Chrome or Firefox, is enough. And you can have all the books synced to your iPad or iPhone so that you can continue reading on the go.
The most important feature of Google Play Books, however, is the translation.
Other book-reading apps offer translation for a limited number of languages. The translation in Google Play Books is powered by Google Translate, so you can choose from over 100 languages, not five or ten. A killer feature is an ability not only to translate single words but the entire text that you’ve highlighted.
With the launch of Google audiobooks, the app was updated to support audiobook playback. It can sync last listened location with other devices connected to your Google account. Thanks to that, you can play an audiobook on your Google Home smart speaker and then continue on your iPhone.
What’s important, all the content handled by Google Play Books can be used even if you don’t have access to the internet.
Benefits: instant translations from/to over 100 languages, ease of use both on iOS and online (via web browser), quick start – Google/Gmail users don’t have to register
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone
From the developer of Marvin 3 comes another innovative app that book geeks should not doubt to try. It’s called Gerty.
The app is a missing link between reading and writing.
Isn’t it reading when your brain gets inspired and comes up with tons of bright ideas? Why would you need to switch between a reading and writing app, if you can do everything – and easily – in one?
Gerty offers everything the book-reading app should include to let you enjoy reading to the fullest. In fact, it borrows many features from Marvin: personalization options, custom commands, or app and service integrations via powerful url schemes (Goodreads, Wikipedia, Google Maps, among others). The app offers specialty OpenDyslexic font, syncs via Dropbox, and enables the user to manage, sort, and filter books in bulk.
When the idea hits you (and this time it’s your idea, not the one found in a book), you can immediately write a personal note. How does it differ from an ability to take notes offered by other apps?
In Gerty, you can easily save highlights and notes as personal journal entries. You can add photos and edit them to create stunning effects. You can geo-tag your entries and photos.
In the end, you can export your journal to an epub book. It means that you, and everyone you share your book with, could open it in a book-reading app, such as Kindle, Marvin, or… Gerty.
Just imagine. After reading a book, you are left not only with memories but with another book – the one written by yourself.
Benefits: a smart combination of the book-reading and journal-taking app, powerful personalization of the reading experience, advanced note-taking features, with photo editing, geo-tagging, and file export
Price: Free, Unlock Everything for $3.99
Compatibility: iPad, iPhone
Is improving reading comprehension and speed among your to-dos this year? Picking up a dedicated speed-reading app would help achieve this goal.
Some speed-reading apps, the ones that show one word or phrase at a time, may seem too extreme. Instead of getting involved, many users try using the one-word technique, get quickly disappointed, and never come back.
What if training your speed reading skills is optional and not so dramatically different? It’s what QuickReader is about.
On the basic level, QuickReader is a nicely designed book-reading app with many customization options and built-in access to thousands of public domain books from such repositories as Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks, or Internet Archive.
What I find particularly inviting is a customization of speed reading options and display. Besides setting the speed goal (300 words per minute is an average reading speed), you can personalize the look of the highlight box. Instead of the highlight, you can pick up outline, side bars, or long underline. You can also set your preferred highlight box color.
Each book can be read in two modes: Normal and Guided Reading. The latter one is a great way to gradually improve your reading speed. The technique used to control the speed is simple – a small part of the text is being highlighted and moves forward at the speed you set. With three taps you can skip speed reading mode and come back to normal mode.
The app also provides a simple speed reading test – a good thing to check out before you set the speed goal.
Benefits: well-designed book reader with optional speed reading trainer, built-in access to thousands of free ebooks, customization of speed reading options
Price: Lite version for free, Full version for $4.99
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad
Some book-reading apps offer basic stats that measure your reading progress, how much time you need to finish a book, or what is your reading speed.
If you, however, want to learn more about your reading habits or to keep being motivated, you should pick up an app that’s much more advanced.
Leio is such an app. It’s Runkeeper for book lovers. It’s focused on providing you extensive data on how you read books and how your reading evolves.
You can time your reading sessions, and they will be logged to a reading calendar so that you can see them in a longer time perspective.
With a Planner tool, you can set up how often you want to read each book, and the app will remind you to read if you want to stay on track.
An even more powerful tool lets you finish reading a book by a specific date. Simply, set up the deadline, and the app will tell you how long and how many pages you’ll need to read per day to finish before that date. As time flies, the app will adjust the reading plan.
Benefits: a powerful way to learn about your reading habits and keep motivated, advanced stats that show how your reading evolves over time, deadline reading tool
Price: Free, $4.99 to unlock stats for unlimited books
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad
Top iPad cases and accessories to get in 2019
Based on recommendations from top tech sites and best customer reviews.
Zugu Muse Case for iPad Pro 11 (2018)
Magnet-secured case with 8 stand angles. Wireless Apple Pencil charging support, 5ft drop protection, car industry materials. Also for iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad 9.7.
Average rating: 4.7/5
Anker Tempered Glass Screen Protector for iPad 9.7
Premium tempered glass with 9H hardness rating. Retina clarity with 96% transparency, 0.3 mm thickness, and oleophobic coating. Also for iPad Pro models.
Average rating: 4.4/5
Tomtoc Shoulder Bag for iPad 9.7 and iPad Pro 11
Shockproof, padded urban iPad sleeve that’s both slim and lightweight. Main compartment for iPad, external pocket with a pen holder. Comes with an extra shoulder strap.
Average rating: 4.8/5
• • •
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