Reading eTexts on Your Cell Phone

Posted: November 5, 2007 in cell_phone, tools
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Here is a blog post that I made in July 2007 on my other blog. I post it here as it is an excellent tool that can be harness for free!

While the existence of a web 2.0 application that allows cell phone users to download free digital ebooks to the mobile phone is not new, a service that I have recently used is simply amazing. It’s called Wattpad and it is the best service I have seen so far.

First of all, what’s free? The answer is just about everything! The application itself (which is downloaded and installed on ones cell phone, and all texts downloaded from it’s site are all free. What’s not? There is always the costs of downloading content through your web browser that is charged by your service provider. I am currently subscribed with Rogers Wireless and find the the 5 cent/kb charge is just way too expensive. However, for $5/month, Rogers has a plan that includes a 5MB worth of downloaded content and that should be plenty if you maintain a reasonable level of downloading activity. After all, WAP service on cell phones is text based so the file sizes are small. I’m sure that iPhone will change all of that but as of this writing, the iPhone is only available in the US so it may be still some time before WAP goes the way of the dodo. Nevertheless, for a very low cost, anyone can download ebooks to their cell phone.

How about the content? Well this is the best part! Unlike other services, such as ManyBooks, the site includes more than just public domain content. For example, I downloaded a copy of my favorite novel of all time, George Orwell’s 1984, to my cell phone and that novel is at least 25 years away from being made open to the public domain granted, this is a little dangerous when used with students). In addition, anyone can upload content to the site! This is the power of Wattpad as not only are public domain texts available for the mobile reader/learner, but any text is – be it published text or otherwise.

Just think of the possibilities:

– Students downloading etexts from the site for free saving school districts money in purchasing expensive textbooks; savings that can be used to purchase more learning technology

– Students using their cell phones as a mobile learning devices, allowing them to read any textual learning materials from virtually anywhere

– Students can upload assignments to the site and provide the teacher with a Wattcode* by which they can download the written assignment to their computer or cell phone

– Teachers can upload textual learning resources for students and provide students with the Wattcode* by which they can download learning materials to their cell phones

*A Wattcode is a reference number used by the service to identify the text

In addition to all of this, the application itself looks nice, works well, and is easy to use. Users can customize colours of both backgrounds and text. When reading a text, there are many keypad shortcuts that the user can utilize. For example, clicking down on the phone’s menu selector to move the text down or clicking a preset key on the phone to allow the text to scroll automatically like a TelePrompter. Lastly, the user has the option to read the text directly from the Wattpad network or to download the text directly to their cell phone for reading without the browser. What happens when someone calls you while you are reading? When this happened to me, I was happy to note that the call took the first priority and whether or not I accepted the call, when I return to my text, Wattpad always kept my place for me so I never had to figure out where I left off in the text.

What a wonderful application – most definitely worth the look!

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