Love public domain books and hate DRM?
Then you’d do well to help developers like Turnipsoft. Its Freda app plays up Project Gutenberg, other public domain sites, and those friendly to small publishers.
Once just for Windows, Freda is now available in the Google Play store for your feedback on a free beta version.
Why not help out? To get a feel for the territory, check out TeleRead’s earlier writings about this program for ePub, FB2, HTML and TXT format books.
Here’s the download page for Android version 4.22. UK-based developer Jim Chapman welcomes your suggestions via the Turnipsoft forums or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At my urging, Jim has added an all-text-bold option, shown in use in the screen shot.
His app already offered some other nice accessibility features such as text to speech (easy changes of speed and pitch) and the OpenDyslexic font.
Furthermore, Freda blends in smoothly with the Calibre ebook manager and OneDrive, and you’ll find Dropbox and other options if you tap the “+” button under the list of book sources. Of course, you can also bring in Dropbox books by exporting them from the file-storage program to Freda.
Your own to-do-list for Jim?
So what’s on your own to-do list for Jim? I myself also hope that Freda will let you use your phone’s volume controls to change pages, with the option to reverse the controls if need be for greater ease of use. If that capability is there, I’ve missed it.
I would like easier vertical scrolling, too. Right now, you can vertically scroll if you set the border to 0, the page number style to none, and the text columns control to 1 for whatever orientation you’re using. The swipe action is change page. In a nutshell, vertical scrolling is doable but hardly optimal.
Smoother selection of text would be another improvement. On my Pixel XL, at least, the actions was a bit jerky, and I’d also welcome a better choice of options for the text you pick out. Via the Kindle app, I can make a note on the selected text or share it without burrowing down.
Also, Jim should make the text selection menu less cluttered and, for example, let us bookmark and do text to speech another way.
The biggest change I’d like would be simplification of the customization menu structure via careful use of hierarchies with short text descriptions. Don’t put so many options and adjustments immediately on the screen once people click on a gear on the home screen or otherwise reach the main page of the customization menu.
Moon+ as inspiration for Jim and other developers
In terms of power and usability within the Android world, the real knockout right now is Moon+ Reader Pro. The app’s developer’s bill Moon+ as “the #1 paid ebook reader in Google Play,” with “the best rating (4.7).” It’s easy to see why. Moon+ has most everything I could dream of, including text to speech, all text bold (screen shot) and, yes, well-done vertical scrolling.
The menus are more complicated than in, say, Kindle apps; but then Moon+ can do so much more. Also, as the shot shows, you can customize Moon+ so you see a bunch of options as you’re reading along. Then you don’t have to go so often into the well-organized hierarchies. Shortcuts save a gigantic amount of time. I chose shortcuts ranging from those for page orientation to text to speech and search. Also, you’ll notice I can easily see my progress within the book. That’s not all. With a quick tap, I can change to a Moon+ screen with virtually nothing but the text I’m reading.
As I see it, at least, the above should be the goal for other ereading app developers—a mix of hierarchies, customization for quick access via shortcuts to commonly used features, and of course an easy switch to the full-text screen. Anyone else agree?
While I’m a huge fan of Moon+, I believe that the ebook world deserves a number of good choices, especially those promoting the reading of public domain books; and Freda is one of the better nonDRM alternatives. Help Jim make a very promising app still better.
Freda is free, as mentioned, and if you see ads at the bottom of the main page, you can pay a small amount (99 cents in the U.S.) to turn them off.
Within the Google Play Store, you can’t leave reviews yet since Freda’s Android version is still in beta.
A reminder: The latest Kindle Fires can run Freda, via the Google Play Store app. Here’s how to install Play on your Fire.
Related: Freda’s manual for the Windows version. Remember, there’ll be differences.
Update, 2 p.m. Eastern: Jim tells me he’ll be adding the ability to use volume buttons to change pages (which Microsoft disappointingly didn’t allow in the Windows version). Wonderful! He’ll also consider other changes I’ve suggested. Now pass on to him your own!