If you have an iPhone, Amazon makes five must-have apps that, when coupled with an Amazon Prime membership, will truly revolutionize the way you use your phone. Once you get used these great Amazon iPhone apps, you won’t be able to use anything else again. The five apps, along with their Prime benefits are:
- Amazon Kindle – free Kindle books
- Amazon Store – free two-day shipping
- Amazon Price Check – free two-day shipping
- Amazon Music – free streaming and downloaded music
- Amazon Instant Video – free streaming of movies and TV shows
The Kindle has really revolutionized the way we read, but not everyone realizes that you don’t need to own a Kindle to read Kindle books! Amazon offers the Kindle software as an iPhone app. Even with a small screen, the reading experience on the Kindle app is wonderful. Everything is adjustable – text size, screen color, font, brightness, and screen orientation. The Kindle app syncs between devices, so you can switch back and forth between an iPhone and an iPad if you own both. A cute feature is the ability to “dog-ear” a page to return to it later. All you do is touch the upper right corner of the screen and the corner folds down.
The Kindle app allows you to bookmark pages and highlight important passages in Kindle books. Marked text is saved in your notebook, and accessed through the pop-up menu at the bottom of the screen. The notebook makes the Kindle iPhone app really useful for high school or college students. You can take notes right in the app, just as you would do with a physical copy of the book. Another plus for students is all of Amazon’s free Kindle books! Many older books in the public domain are available at no cost in the Kindle Store. Amazon Prime members can also borrow one book a month for free.
The best new feature on the Kindle app is the upgrade to Whispersync for Voice, which integrates it with the Audible app. The upgrade lets you switch back and forth between listening to an audiobook and reading a Kindle book without losing your place – all within the Kindle app. The only catch is that you have to own both the Kindle version and the Audible version of the book. After buying the Kindle version, you have the option to add profession narration from Audible for a discounted price.
The Amazon Store is very useful shopping app. The store app has the full capability of the Amazon website, and is designed to look and work similarly to the website. If you’ve used the website before, the app should already feel familiar. It seems like Amazon had convenience in mind when it designed this app. Since it stays logged into your account unless you physically tell it to log out, checking an order status is just a few screens away. This also makes very easy to purchase just about anything. If Amazon sells it, the store app will help you purchase it in record time.
The two best features of the store app are Scan It, which is the Amazon price check feature detailed below, and Flow. Flow is a product search feature that works with the camera on your iPhone. Say you don’t know the brand name of something you want to buy. Open the Amazon shopping app on your phone, click on the search bar and choose the Flow option. Then, simply point your iPhone at the object, and Flow will attempt to recognize it. It’s that simple!
Another helpful feature of the Amazon store app is 1-Click Buying. It works the same as on the website – turn it on, designate a credit card and shipping address – and all your purchases take just one click! This is a little bit dangerous, however, because you will always be prompted to “Buy with 1-Click” even when you don’t want to. If you use different payment options frequently, however, or ship to multiple address all the time, it might be better to leave 1-Click turned off on your account. The Amazon app will still prompt you to use 1-Click when it is available.
The Amazon Price Check app is specifically made for the cost-conscious. The Price Check app lets you check in-store whether or not Amazon sells the exact same item for less. All you have to do is search a product and Amazon will give you a list of their sellers with the best prices. There are three ways to search for items: scan the barcode with the app, take a picture with the app, or speak the name into your iPhone’s microphone.
With Price Check, you can also tell Amazon what the prices of items are at the physical stores. Amazon uses submitted prices to keep its own prices competitive. Any time an item is searched in Price Check the option to submit a store price should appear at the top of the app screen. The app then uses Location Services (which must be turned on) to determine what store you’re shopping in. Anything that keeps Amazon’s prices at rock-bottom is surely a good thing!
Amazon Price Check is also partially integrated with the Amazon Store app. Within Price check, you can log in to your Amazon account, view or cancel orders, and also track packages. With an Amazon Prime account, the chances of saving money increase tenfold. Prime members get two-day free shipping on most items sold by Amazon (not Marketplace items). With Prime, you can build an order of non-essentials, get everything within two days and save a ton of money.
Amazon has clearly been trying to challenge Apple’s hold on the digital media market, so their music app has pretty much everything that iTunes does. It has a library, can make playlists and even streams music. Music already on your phone can be imported into the Amazon Music app. Where Amazon has a leg up on Apple here is with Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM is used to encode digital products, sometimes to prevent piracy, and some times to keep digital items from being used with different software. Although Apple has supposedly gone DRM-free, some users are still experiencing problems with older copies of media purchased before the switch to DRM-free. Amazon has never used DRM on its digital media, so you don’t ever have to worry if something will play or not in the Amazon Music app.
Another bonus with Amazon Music is price. Scroll through the list of the 15 millions-plus songs available and you will see plenty of songs available for as little as .69 cents. Albums can be as low as $5.00 and some music is even – wait for it – free (more on that in a minute). Another perk is that Amazon knows the importance of the coupon. Frequently, Amazon gives customers digital music credit for making another purchase. Sometimes it can come with a movie rental, or something that is a promotional item that week. Whatever the case, a digital music credit is basically getting music for free, and who doesn’t love that?
The best feature of Amazon Music is also the newest feature: free(!) music for Amazon Prime customers. If you have a Prime account – and let’s face it, if you have an iPhone, you really should have a Prime account for the free two-day shipping alone – you can listen thousands of songs and albums to the Music app, all free of charge. Most of the songs are only available for streaming, but a few can be downloaded.
The Amazon Instant Video app is coolest with a Prime membership. Yes, without one, you can still rent or buy movies and TV shows to watch on your mobile device. That is awesome. With Prime, however, suddenly thousands of titles become free. Rental and purchase prices for non-prime titles are reasonable. Rental periods are generally 48 hours, which a longer time period than most competitors.
The selection of movies and TV shows available, with or without Prime, is impressive. Movies are usually available to purchase a little earlier on Amazon than in stores. Unfortunately you do have to wait until the official release date to rent new films. Amazon’s selection of Prime free movies and TV shows just recently became exponentially more impressive. For example, the entire series of The Sopranos was just added to Amazon Prime. The only catch is that all free Prime movies are streaming-only, which means that you must have a wi-fi connection to watch them. Purchased movies and TV shows, however, can be downloaded and watched whenever, which makes this app the perfect companion for gym workouts or long car trips.
Watching video in the Instant Video app really is a pleasure. The picture is hardly ever pixelated, and the app rarely crashes. Playback features a 30-second rewind button to relive hilarious moments, and closed caption can be turned on if you’re having a hard time hearing. Movie information from IMDB is integrated into this app, so you can find out everything you want to know about a movie before you start watching it, all within the one app.
The Bottom Line
Amazon’s apps take the iPhone experience to the next level. If you don’t already have all five Amazon apps for the iPhone, hop on over to the App store immediately to download them. Once you start using them, old apps from other companies will be sure to gather “digital dust” – that is, if you don’t delete them immediately!