Kobo Pulse Aims To Offer New Twist On Social Reading

Kobo has been cultivating their Reading Life initiative for a while now, and with the announcement of their new Pulse feature, they’re digging even deeper into the social space than before. Slated to launch in their Kobo iOS apps first, Pulse is a new way for readers to connect with others while digitally thumbing through their collections.

The pulse manifests itself as a pink splotch on the bottom of any given page, where it waxes and wanes to display the level of social engagement is going on around that point in the book. Expect a small pulse, for example, when you run into a few pages of dull, lifeless exposition. Likewise, the pulse will grow bigger and brighter once you start hitting the juicy bits.

A quick tap on the pulse reveals others reading the same book, and a shortcut to the page feed where you can discuss all the details. Swiping up from the bottom of the screen brings up a book statistics pages, which among other things shows how many times the book has been read and some of the conversations surrounding the book.

Kobo’s been down with Facebook since their Reading Life plans started, but now they’re looking to tie their social reading ideas into some of the new functionality demoed at this year’s f8. Pulse updates will show up in in your Facebook ticker, and reading habits will eventually make their way onto your Timeline. In addition to showing up in your iOS and Android Kobo reader apps, Pulse will also make an appearance on their line of Touch Edition eReaders as an automatic update.

Personally (and I don’t think I’m alone on this one), I’ve always felt that reading was one of those things that was best done alone. I like to curl up in a chair, turn everything else around me off, and just dive in. Visually, the pulse also seems as though it would be a distraction, though I suspect I may be in the minority on that one.

Don’t get me wrong, parts of Pulse seem truly compelling; as a bit of a numbers nerd, personal reading stats are something I’d love to have a look at, and the idea of seeing a book’s “life” unfold is sort of charming. I’m looking forward to playing with Pulse when it comes via update, but I’m not expecting it to change years of reading habits.