Ibis Reader is a very capable on-line eBook reader that uses HTML 5, an emerging new standard for web sites and web-based services. Thus, Ibis Reader requires an HTML 5-compliant web browser. Fortunately, most modern browsers on desktop, laptop and even "smart" mobile devices are largely HTML 5-compliant. HTML 5 enables the Ibis Reader to blur the distinction between cloud-based and native applications, especially on certain mobile devices where network connectivity may not always be fast enough or might not be available at all.
To follow along, point mobileSafari (or other webkit-based mobile browser) at: http://m.ibisreader.com and then, on Apple iOS devices, create a web clip so that this web app is presented in full screen mode (eliminates browser UI elements) and is easier to access later on. If you are using an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or an Android phone, you'll be asked to permit the creation of a local database of up to 50 MB in size. Desktop/laptop readers will want to use: http://ibisreader.com.
Ibis Reader provides an encouraging answer to those would-be eBook authors who ask, "If I create an eBook in ePub format, who will be able to read it?" That answer is, "Anyone with Internet access and an HTML 5 web browser." Of course, many will have other software and hardware options as well and they may well prefer them for one reason or another but Ibis Reader has the widest reach of all and that may be critical for many authors. Being a web application, Ibis Reader can be used on any desktop, laptop or netbook computer and on many mobile devices including the wildly popular Apple lineup of iPad, iPhone and iPod touch and any of the Android phones.
Among the many benefits of HTML 5 is Local Storage which benefits iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and Android phones by enabling the download of entire eBooks to a local SQL Lite database on the device. This makes it possible for these devices to retrieve and present the Ibis Reader web app plus the full text of one or more eBooks without being connected to a network at all. Previously, this is what differentiated native apps from web apps. The web app could not run without a network whereas the native app could. This is now no longer the case.
Native apps still have some advantages over web apps in the areas of rich media and interactivity. However, even these may go away as the work beginning the next iteration of the ePub standard gets underway. More on this in a later post.