I shouldn’t be reviewing this — I have a backlog of 3 book reviews to write, and several more novels to read and review.
But I got a smartphone around a month ago and still have not given mobile fiction much of a try. I did get the Wattpad app a while back, but never really used it, so a few days ago I downloaded the first four chapters of M. Jones’ Frankie and Formaldehyde so I could read during my commute into work. (Review of Frankie to follow at some point.)
Now, I don’t have the fanciest of smartphones. It’s a Nokia XpressMusic, pretty basic, although it looks pretty and does the job. So I don’t know what the Wattpad app will look like on other phones, but below are my thoughts.
Obviously a key selling point, no pun intended! The app is free, the stories are free, so there’s really no reason not to try it.
It took all of a few minutes to find and download the app, and I was immediately set to go. I flicked through the app’s menus and found everything pretty clear.
Browsing on the app
You can obviously go to the Wattpad mobile website, but you can also browse fiction through the app itself, searching by category, recommended, most popular, language, etc. Click on a story and you can start reading immediately, plus it gets added to your library so you can find it easily later. Only downside? You only see the story titles, so have no idea what the story’s about until you click through and begin reading.
Read offline option
If you find something you like but don’t have time to read it now, you can save it to your memory to read offline later. I used this feature much more than the read online one because it meant I could read in the tube or when out and about without. And it downloaded pretty quickly, too, which was great!
Get by Wattcode
Every story has its own unique code, meaning that if you find something you like while browsing on a computer, you can just save that number and use it to directly download the story onto your phone. Very convenient, and means you don’t have to mess around trying to re-find the story on your phone through the search box.
They’ve kept the formatting pretty simple (plain text, basically) which means that the stories remain legible no matter your screen size, but on top of that you can adjust the text size, colour, the background colour, the back lighting, and more. I picked a gray background with white text.
Among the best features of the app: an automatic bookmark. It remembers where you got to when you were reading, so even if you close the app in a hurry, you can reopen and resume reading from the same place. Great for when you’re reading secretly at work and don’t want anyone to find out!
The Wattpad website
The Wattpad mobile browser‘s pretty bare bones, but is still hard to browse. I found it difficult to access fiction other than the “popular” or “recommended” reads, none of which interested me, and ultimately ended up browsing on my computer, and then taking note of the story number and using that to download fiction onto my phone.
I found a lot of the fiction on Wattpad badly written. It doesn’t help that Wattpad’s target demographic (according to their ebook metrics report) is girls in their teens who like YA Fantasy. So I’m not sure how much of the stories on there are of interest to me.
Downloading to read offline
While I liked being able to read offline, it’s annoying that you have to download each part of a story separately. I didn’t even realize I had to do this at first and was annoyed when I suddenly reached the end of a chapter and couldn’t read more.
If you tap the screen, it begins scrolling upwards slowly. I thought it was cool at first, but quickly found it uncomfortable to read — I ended up doing a long swipe across the screen to just jump ahead to the next page. But if I accidentally did too short a swipe, it would begin scrolling again. Ugh!
Every time you close the Wattpad app it asks you to visit their sponsor’s website, meaning you have to click twice to close the program. It asks you even if you’re reading offline, when obviously you don’t have internet! This got pretty annoying.
Wattpad has kept things rather simple and — most importantly — convenient. However, while I would use Wattpad mobile to read the works of authors I know well, I doubt I’ll use it to discover new works. My plan of action is to browse on-site for authors I like, then download the fiction to my phone so I can have something to read whilst commuting.
What about you? Have you tried Wattpad or another mobile fiction app?