August 7, 2012
The self-described “world’s largest online library” is now available for iOS. Scribd is now available as an app for the iPhone/iPod touch. Unfortunately, despite its pedigree, this is one confusing app. First launched on the Web in 2006, Scribd is a document sharing service where writers upload premium and free content for others to consume. This content is easily accessible through the website or through embedded links on other sites. Scribd includes content ranging from non-fiction, presentations, and school work, to how-to guides, and business/law documents. The free app, by contrast, offers very little content, at least out of the box. Scribd for iPhone includes free featured content, as well as links to documents you’ve read recently on the Scribd website. Additionally, you may search for other content using the app's search feature. To truly enjoy the Scribd app, however, you must really enjoy the Scribd ecosystem and know how to use it. Unfortunately, that’s a problem, especially if you’re new to Scribd, which many iOS users might be. The app includes links to bookmarks, a reading feed, my documents, and recently read articles. Some of these are website-dependent, while others are not. For example, the reading feed includes documents from users you’ve followed on the Scribd website. Conversely, the recently read articles are those documents you’ve read only on the iOS app. And bookmarks? Here you’ll find links to articles you found interesting exclusively on the app. Finally, under My Documents, you'll find documents you’ve uploaded, collected, or purchased -- again through the website. [caption id="attachment_327536" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Scribd for iPhone - Confusing choices[/caption] Confused? Join the club. As it stands now, the Scribd app is a mess, which is a shame because the Scribd service is actually enjoyable and worthwhile. Most likely, the app's creator wanted to avoid Apple's in-app purchase system, and Cupertino's 30 percent cut on each purchase. However, by doing so, the app is difficult to use, and pretty useless to new customers. Hopefully an app update will arrive that will clear up the clutter. If it does not, Scribd for iOS will prove to be a complete failure.