Goodreads, the social network for book lovers, has at last seen its first major update since Amazon bought the company last March. This week, Goodreads rolled out a significant redesign on iOS (coming soon to Android) – something regular Goodreads users have wanted for some time. Now, instead of having you land on an outdated, grid-like homescreen when the app is first launched, it immediately displays a “news feed” filled with your friends’ recent updates on the network, including books they’ve read, rated, reviewed and more.
Here, you can like and comment on the posts from friends with ease, delivering on Goodreads’ promise to function as more of a social network for book readers, and not just a utility where you independently catalog your own progress.
Overall, the look-and-feel of the app has been vastly improved to look like something that fits in on Apple’s new operating iOS 8…or iOS 7, for that matter. While it may not be the most beautiful app on your iPhone or iPad, it’s such a dramatic improvement over the old interface that it’s hard not to be giddy about the changes. (Well, if you’re the kind of person who gets giddy over app updates, I guess. Ahem. *Looks around.*)
Finding your way around the app has also been improved, as it includes now includes a bottom navigation bar for accessing the Home feed, a “My Books” section, a search option for finding books on Goodreads,, a barcode scanner for adding books to your “To Read” shelf, and a “More” tab that shows you the remaining sections, like recommendations, challenges, groups, events and more. These are not new features, to be clear, but they have been better placed for the most part.
The Recommendations section is especially nice to use, allowing you to tap filter your suggestions by genre or shelf, and then flip through book thumbnails using your finger. Oddly, though, certain sections remain empty despite the app having enough information to generate some title suggestions. (Is there really no fiction it can recommend for me?) However, the picks based on what’s on my “To-Read” shelf look interesting enough, and include fiction, so I’ll manage.
In addition, you can now quickly create new custom bookshelves to complement your “To-Read,” “Currently Reading,” and “Read” shelves – another welcome option that will allow Goodreads users to better curate lists of recommended books, like “best business books,” “great new fiction,” “favorite memoirs,” or anything else you want to share with your book-reading friends and fans.
Meanwhile, under the “My Books” tab, it’s easy to update your current progress by tapping a button and entering in a page number. (Though it’s still frustrating the app can’t just pull this information from your Kindle or the mobile Kindle app for iOS or Android. But at least the Goodreads website now lets you quickly add your Amazon books to Goodreads with just a click.)
Best of all, the update gives longtime Goodreads users hope that Amazon is not abandoning the property as many big companies often do following an acquisition. And with the changes, there’s even a chance that Amazon will be able to revitalize to Goodreads audience, who may have stopped regularly engaging with the service as lagged to keep up with modern user interface trends, and failed to deliver more usable features over time.
Amazon says that there are over 20 million Goodreads users, who have added more than 570 million books to their shelves. That’s already a bit of an improvement in their figures since the March acquisition announcement when Goodreads reportedly had 16 million users.
Goodreads is a free download on the App Store.
Image credits: Shutterstock; Goodreads