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Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 09:45 am PT (12:45 pm ET)

Ahead of hardware refresh, Oyster brings subscription e-book service to iPad

Subscription e-book service Oyster has released an an updated version of its popular reading and lending application with a new design and iPad support, less than a week before Apple's expected iPad hardware refresh.

Oyster subscription e-book service updated for iPad


The update addresses what many early users of the service pointed to as its most glaring omission at launch, lack of native support for Apple's iPad and iPad mini. The 4-inch Retina displays found on Apple's smaller iOS devices are less than ideal for novel-length reading at home, where the iPad models' larger screens are a more natural fit.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a thinner, lighter edition of its 9.7-inch iPad and a Retina display-equipped iPad mini at a special event next week, both improvements that make the devices even more well suited for reading.

Oyster's iPad version packs a new, darker user interface which the company said is designed to enhance night-time use and a full-screen browsing mode for the company's lending library. The app also takes advantage of the iPad's larger display to enable browsing and reading in landscape mode.

Synchronization between a user's devices is included and functions similarly to that of Apple's iBooks — both a user's library and their reading activity will be mirrored between devices. It is unclear whether the synchronization happens via iCloud or a proprietary mechanism, though in either case it remains transparent from a user's perspective.

Oyster subscription e-book service updated for iPad


Alongside the iPad app, New York-based Oyster, which many describe as "Netflix for e-books," officially opened its $9.99 per month subscription model to the public on Wednesday. Oyster had been in private beta following its launch on Apple's iPhone and iPod touch in September.

Version 1.1, which the company dubs "Blue Point" after a popular variety of New York oysters, is available for download on the App Store today and comes with a free 30-day trial of the service.