Actually, Marvin is more of an “it.” That’s because Marvin is nothing more (or perhaps nothing less) than an iPad app. Specifically, Marvin is an iPad e-reading app. But it’s no ordinary e-reading app, mind you.
You see, as its full name in the App Store (Marvin = eBooks + Intelligence) suggests, Marvin is an intelligent e-book reading app. Marvin is said to be intelligent on account of its embedded artificial intelligence (AI) engine.
Now, I’m thinking the app may very well have been named after Marvin, the paranoid android in Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Or probably not, since Marvin the app is in no way a paranoid reading companion.
On the contrary, Marvin is rather productive in that its AI reads your books with you and helps you discover more stuff about them.
The app lets you look up characters, places, and names in your book to see and learn more about them. In particular, it lets you see where names appear for the first time in your book. This is an especially handy feature for when you’re reading a Russian or high fantasy novel, where there are a great deal of confusingly named characters.
As you find out more about your book, you can pin any review, article, video, or website to your book. This way, you have all of the interesting information you’ve found about your book within easy reach.
If you can’t see the video embedded above, please click here.
Furthermore, Marvin can automatically build summaries of your book, which are saved as separate e-books in your in-app library.
Speaking of library, Marvin comes with a bundle of e-books that you can download after launching the app for the first time. This bundle includes several classic novels plus a book written by sci-fi author and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow.
Of course, you can always add more e-books to your library. And there are three ways to do this.
One, you can use iTunes file sharing to transfer e-books from your computer to Marvin. Two, you can use Marvin to open e-book attachments in your iPad email app, e.g. Mail or Gmail. Three, you can connect Marvin to your Dropbox account, from which you can download your stored e-books.
Note, though, that Marvin supports DRM-free ePub books only.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the app’s customization options for fonts, margins, brightness, and whatnot, suffice it to say that Marvin has lots and lots of them.
Compatible with iPad running iOS 5.0 or later, Marvin is available in the App Store for free. Yes, I, too, can’t believe that an app that’s as feature-rich as this is absolutely free.