Book reading is something that never goes away, it just moves with the medium of the time. As such, Windows Phone has Kindle and Freda for everyone to enjoy e-books on the move, plus Lumia now has Nokia Reading too. GoodReads is a social network that allows you to keep track of all the books you've read, and want to read, as well as seeing what your friends are reading and is a channel for you to share your thoughts on the books you've read too. Here we review MetroReads, which is a free Windows Phone app for GoodReads.
Version Reviewed: 1.6.1
If you haven't used GoodReads before, don't worry, the idea of it is pretty simple. First of all, forget about its social networking aspects - you could quite happily use GoodReads without ever having anything to do with another human being.
By default you have three "shelves": Read, Reading, and To-Read. I'll leave it to your imagination as to how these are to be used! However, you can add more shelves to better organize your library. GoodReads is not just for printed books, its vast catalogue is aware of multiple versions of books including Kindle and audio versions.
As to the social aspect, whenever you update your account - such as saving where you're up to in a book, that you completed a book, or that you wrote a review - it's added to your news feed. Much like Facebook, the amalgamated stream of updates from all of your friends is shown in your GoodReads news feed.
MetroReads goes about presenting all of the aspects of GoodReads via six tiles: updates (i.e. the news feed), 'add book', reading, to read, read, and settings.
Rather inconsistently, the page you land on after tapping 'updates' is headed "feed", but otherwise it behaves as you would expect it to. If any particular entry tempts you into tapping, you'll find that you're taken into Internet Explorer for the corresponding page at the GoodReads website.
When adding a book, you can either enter a search query or optically scan the barcode on the book. That can be difficult to do when adding an electronic book, but I did find a work around since one can enter the ISBN code in the search query. Hence you can get the ISBN either by Bing Scanning or browsing with Internet Explorer and paste that code into MetroReads.
When viewing your read/to-read/reading book lists, the design hampers your ability to quickly scan through what's there. The grid of book covers is actually four books wide, which requires you to swipe/scroll sideways, and back, before scrolling down to the next couple of rows. Having to scroll in two directions to view listed content does not make for a positive user experience. It somewhat feels like the developer missed the point of the 'Metro' pivot model. Not only that, but the scrolling is very jerky - clearly there is need for some code optimization.
When it comes to your custom bookshelves, you can view the shelves you have and add more, but you cannot view the contents of a shelf, nor can you delete a shelf. It's all very limited - the most you can do is set the three primary shelves to be listed in order of custom shelf, via the settings.
Login options are limited to, the GoodReads website allows for authentication via native accounts or via third party accounts from Twitter, Facebook, and Google. MetroReads only provided options for native login or Facebook. Fortunately if you only login via Twitter of Google there is a work around - just link your GoodReads account to your Facebook account and then return to MetroReads. Note that this requires you to have a Facebook account and that you need to be aware of all the privacy settings that go along with linking the two.
Overall, MetroReads feels quite limited, moreover it feels unfinished. It's certainly not the app you'd use to demonstrate how good Windows Phone is to your friends. However, if you're an avid GoodReads user and you're compelled to fastidiously update your latest reading progress, then this is quicker than navigating the GoodReads website on Internet Explorer.
Reviewed by David Gilson at