Amazon's Kindle app is a wonderful alternative to Apple's iBookstore, and its latest update has introduced two incredibly useful new features. The most basic improvement is quick access to a book's table of contents in the app's left-hand navigation area. Simply swipe left to find it, complete with chapter headings and page numbers, and easily jump to the text you want.
The most exciting improvement to the app is the introduction of Amazon's X-Ray Smart Look-Up. Anyone who has used the feature on a personal Kindle can vouch that it is indispensable for research, note taking, or building connections in a book. X-Ray allows you to search names and keywords throughout an entire text without leaving the page you're currently reading.
X-Ray then provides context for your search query in a notecard that appears on the screen or allows you to zoom through each usage of a phrase in the book.
This feature is especially useful for students who need to quickly look through a long novel or historical text for writing papers, but it has casual applications as well. Tackling a complicated title like Roberto Bolaño's 2666 or Tolstoy's War and Peace is significantly less daunting when you can easily look back for reference.
If you've been using the Kindle app for your iPad or iPhone, make sure you update. These features may surprise you with just how useful they are. You can download Kindle for iOS for free in the App Store.