Mobile Fiction: Reviewing The Wattpad App

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.

Likes

  • Free
    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.

  • Easy
    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.

  • Customisable
    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.

  • Resume Reading
    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!

Dislikes

  • 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.

  • The Fiction
    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.

  • Scrolling
    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!

  • Ads
    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.

Overall

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?

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About A.M. Harte

A.M. Harte writes twisted speculative fiction, such as the post-apocalyptic Above Ground and the zombie love anthology Hungry For You. She is excellent at missing deadlines, has long forgotten what ‘free time’ means, and is utterly addicted to chocolate.
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8 Responses to Mobile Fiction: Reviewing The Wattpad App

  1. L says:

    Surely you jest. Phones, now? Ha. I can just manage the big screen, with glasses and tech support.

    Lxx

  2. Zoe says:

    I’ve used the Wattpad for the Blackberry Curve 8520, and I didn’t care fore the interface or for most of the titles I’ve read. The exception was M. Jones’ zombie story Frankie and Formaldehyde, and I got into that through her links on Twitter. (And Other Sides, but I’m totally biased and shouldn’t include it.) I have better apps on my phone for reading my Mobipocket and Fictionwise libraries, so I don’t see a need to go browsing for free fiction when I have books I paid for already preloaded on my phone, and without the spam on every exit. (Yes it does that on the Blackberry app too)

    Overall, I’m not impressed with Wattpad and wouldn’t recommend them just yet. If the content quality and interface improve, I might revise my opinion, but for now, they earn a solid “Meh.”

    • A.M. Harte says:

      Same — the interface isn’t amazing, but it does work. My biggest issue was the quality of fiction, the difficulties in browsing fiction, and the ads. That’s why I’d only read work of people I know, when I’m assured of the quality (eg, M. Jones!).

      I don’t tend to buy fiction for my phone (my phone is pretty lame) and I can’t view PDFs or word docs, so finding a free app for my Nokia that would let me do that would be great. Alas, my phone is so pseudo-smart.

  3. M. Jones says:

    Way to make me blush, guys!

    I’m not sure I’m going to find my target audience at Wattpad, but I did find that there are some adult authors on there, they are hidden beneath the turbulent sea of squee and hyperactivity. There seems to be a big influx of teen paranormal romance (read: vampires, tears and emo dead people), which is not at all what I want to read.

    For reading, Smashwords has been the winner for me, but I’m always open to finding new places. Maybe after it’s had time percolate, Wattpad will mature into a fiction repository of note. I like the livejournal feel it has, and it’s definitely easy to use–Two very big pluses in my book :P

    • A.M. Harte says:

      If you have any recommendations for Wattpad authors, throw them my way! It’s nice to have something to read on my phone. Sadly my phone can’t read PDFs hence I can’t really save ebooks on it.

  4. ordinarylia says:

    I love Wattpad a lot actually. I have downloaded the app lots of time, but no one could work on my phone.
    It’s always said that there’s something wrong with the internet connection. This is annoying, cuz it’s not true. I still can use Opera Mini and snaptu. But Wattpad app doesnt work on my phone!
    Do you think what causes this problem?
    I really want to email the Wattpad team to ask this.

    • A.M. Harte says:

      I didn’t have problems running the app on my phone, but I think I have a different model from yours. Why not go ahead and email them — they are very helpful and friendly!

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