Compatibility and Tablets
iPads are compatible with all of our digital books products. You will see their instructions on any of the digital books pages as "Apple Mobile App." They can use the digital books on their own without the need to transfer from the computer to the device.
What do I need to know about iPads?
- Sizes: standard size (about 9.4 inches) and a mini (7 inches). They work the same.
- To operate an iPad normally, you will need to create an Apple ID and password. If the person receiving the device as a gift is not very technically able, you might want to help them set up their iPad, create this account, and connect it to the internet for the first time.
- Comes with: USB cord and AC charging adaptor (iPads cannot charge from the computer like some devices can).
- Separate purchase: case or cover. Most of these put the iPad to sleep when closed, and this really helps for saving power. More accessories information is over on the "please consider" page, with reasoning.
Notes using digital books with an iPad:
- 3M Cloud Library ebooks - currently no known issues. 3M just released an update to their app that should help with any glitches caused by Apple's recent update to iOS 7 (their operating system). The app allows for very large text sizes and is fully compatible with the iPad's VoiceOver accessibility technology.
- Freading ebooks - none known, though some iOS7 iPads will need to use the BlueFire Reading app to download their books (it has been updated more recently than the Freading's own reader app).
- OneClickdigital Audiobooks - OneClick is working on an upgrade to the app for glitches caused by the recent update to iOS 7. These glitches are not affecting all people. The OneClick app does usually require an internet connection for uninterrupted playing of the book.
Android tablets are made by a variety of companies. The Android operating system is open source (meaning the code itself is free to use) so that is why there end up being so many tablets to choose from. However, some manufacturers are making very cheaply constructed products and are using an old version of Android. We have separated Kindle Fires from this section, see below.
Important points for purchasing an Android tablet:
- Does the device come with the Google Play Store installed? This is the app store for Android devices, and a mark that the manufacturer has a relationship with the operating system developer. If the device does not come with this installed, you will have a harder time using the tablet as a normal Android device.
- Some devices say you can install the Google Play Store on your own later -- this is NOT the same as having the device come with Google Play. It will be harder for you to receive updates to your apps and it is likely that fewer apps may be compatible with your device.
- Workarounds - sometimes you can still use digital books apps with a device that does not have the Google Play Store. It is extra work to set this up and it is unlikely you will receive updates to the app automatically. Some devices cannot even use this method, and must transfer books from the computer to the tablet. This isn't really the point of having a tablet. You should not need a computer to complete a task for a tablet.
- What version of the operating system does the device run? (Android versions have both a number and a dessert/candy name).
- Android 4.4 (KitKat) just came out. Many devices are still on Jellybean (4.1-4.3) and will be updated soon. We would recommend getting at least Jellybean for a tablet, though brand new devices should upgrade to KitKat soon.
- What is too old? Most of our digital books apps are compatible back to Android 2.2, but these is on older devices people still own. Brand new devices should have a newer version number. If you get a new device using an older version, it will not last very long and will not be compatible with many apps.
- Does the device have decent reviews?
- Read reviews from sites like CNet or Android Central.
- Read customer feedback on the device for the store you are buying it from. For example, if I was going to buy a tablet from Walmart, I would go to Walmart.com and look at both positive and negative reviews on the exact device.
- Remember - an underpowered tablet will never be able to use high-data apps like 3M or OneClick.
- Should I get accessories for it?
- Device will come with a USB cord and usually an AC adaptor for plugging it into an outlet. Definitely check on the AC adaptor, though most Android tablets can charge by being connected to a computer with their USB cord (unlike iPads).
- Usually separate: a case/cover. You can get cases that put the device in sleep mode when closed, this is good for preserving battery. Be sure the device is secure in the case.
- We have more accessories information over on the "please consider" page, with reasoning.
Notes using digital books:
- Have a Budget Tablet? See here for our beginning notes on these devices.
- 3M Cloud Library ebooks - currently no known issues. 3M just released an update to the Android app (11/22/13) that increased text sizes dramatically.
- 3M reports that Polaroid tablets currently being sold are too underpowered to run their app.
- Freading ebooks - none overall, though sometimes a better web browser is needed than the one the device had pre-installed. This is more likely with older devices but is fairly easy to resolve.
- OneClickdigital Audiobooks - the OneClick app does usually require an internet connection for uninterrupted playing of the book.
Kindle Fires are technically Android tablets, but Amazon has modified the operating system from the original enough to discuss them separately.
Important Points with using a Kindle Fire for digital books:
- Kindle Fires cannot access the Google Play Store like regular Android tablets, where all of the digital books apps are freely available. Amazon has a separate app store.
- OneClickdigital Audiobooks - the OneClick app is the only one available in the Amazon App Store. However, the newest Kindle Fires have been released with a new version of their operating system, called Mojito, which is not compatible with the OneClick app. While OneClick is working on updating their app to solve this, we do not have a timeline
- eBooks compatibility for the Kindle Fire is achieved by a workaround, as Amazon does not have the apps for these services in their app store. Since this created compatibility is not supported by Amazon, it is less stable usage experience. No one has reported if the new Mojito operating system still works with this.
- 3M Cloud Library ebooks - click here for workaround on installing this app. It is a good example. The 3M app cannot auto-update for Kindle Fires, and the one app posted for the workaround download is at least one version behind the current regular Android app. This does lead to occassional issues.
- Freading ebooks - must download the Freading app with the same type of workaround as the 3M app. The only ebook download errors we have had on Freading recently have been with Kindle Fires.
Please realize that workarounds and the inability to have the app auto-update is difficult for people with low technical skills.
Kindle Fire & Accessories -- these come with a USB connection cord and an AC power adaptor (for plugging it into a wall). All other accessories, including cases, must be purchased separately. Cases often are made to put the device to sleep when the case is closed, and this is great for saving battery life. For more information on accessories, see the "please consider" page made for all devices.
Windows Surface Tablets
Please realize that many Surface Tablets being advertised actually have Windows RT, which is a paired-down version of Windows 8 operating system. The ones with full Windows 8 that we have seen are the expensive models ($800-1000). So, these comments are directed to the Windows RT Surface Tablets.
Important Points with using a Surface Tablet for digital books:
- OneClickdigital Audiobooks - no compatible app or software, only option for using audiobooks is through the manual download process.
- manual download limits you to only one format of audiobook, the ones with less security, so you have fewer books to choose from.
- you must transfer the book from the computer to the device, the device cannot download the book itself. For an example of what this entails, see either the MP3 or Android instructions notes on the Manual Download page.
- 3M Cloud Library eBooks - no compatible app or software.
- 3M is working on a compatible app, but we have no timeline for this availability.
- ebooks must be downloaded and transferred from the computer as if the device was a regular ereader, with this workaround.
- Freading eBooks - no compatible app or software. Similar workaround to what is used with 3M above.