Google Play Books


Google Play Books

Google's answer to an ebook reader


Our rating: 

Get It: Android | iOS | Web App
License: Free
Review & Alternatives: Best Free eBook Reader for Android

Pros & Cons:

Clean, crisp, ebook reader that doesn't have many frills but does what it needs to do really well. Great app to have and use.
Doesn't say what formats it reads and the Read Aloud function is poor.

Our Review:

Google Play Books is Google's answer to an ebook reader. Besides the Android version, it also has an online version accessible in any web browser and an iOS version for Apple devices.

After enabling Sync on my Android device, it takes a moment for the main screen to appear but when it does, it looks very fancy. If you have multiple books stored on your device it displays them as little books (with drop shadows) that move and scroll when you slide your finger over them.

I opened up Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (horizontally) and I'm presented with a clean crisp 2 page display that has that neat page turning animation you can find on some ebook readers and apps. I can flip pages forwards and backwards and the images are clear too. Turning my device vertically, the two pages become one but still the page flipping animation works and the text and images are sharp. So back to horizontal.

When you tap on a page, at the bottom of the screen it tells you what chapter you are on and at the top it tells you the name of the book and the author. To the right of that are 3 icons. Search (magnifying glass), Chapter list, and Font.

Search allows you to search in the book and when you click on the magnifying glass, the keyboard appears at the bottom of the screen allowing you to type whatever you are looking for.

Chapter, after a microsecond delay, will take you to the chapter you want.

Font, apart from what you think is the obvious, does something more besides. First is Theme. By default it is set to Day, i.e. black text on white background, but if you choose Night, then it reverses to white text on a black background.

Next we have Typeface which allows you to choose 1 of 6 installed fonts.

After that comes Text Alignment which allows you to choose the Default setting (normal I suppose) Left or Justify. I like Justify. Force of habit.

Now after that comes Brightness which is set to Auto as default but allows you to move a slider up or down to set your own preference. Useful if you are in bright sunlight or a dark space.

That's followed by Line Height which increases or decreases the space between lines.

And last, but by no means least, we have Font Size. Self explanatory really. Then when you are finished, tap anywhere on the screen and the icons disappear just leaving the page (pages) you are reading.

There are some other options too. Original pages defaults the book you are reading to the format of the original book rather than using Google's own format. Basically, if you have a book and the font is poor, Google will recognise the book and will show you it in a clean way. Original pages shows it how it originally looks. I prefer Google's way for Alice and that's achieved by tapping on Flowing text.

About the book takes me to a review page that gives me a description and reviews. Bit of a delay getting to it and if you already have the book then you obviously know about it or you wouldn't have downloaded it and saved it on your device! You see where I'm going with this...

Google Books gives you another option called Share. This allows you to share the book, your thoughts and feelings, life the universe and everything, to a bunch of different social networking sites including Facebook, Skype, and Twitter. There is also an Available offline option and a really good Help too. Then there is the Read Aloud. Yes, you've guessed it. The Star Trek computer with a stutter is back. Don't get me wrong. For those who have problems reading, then it is a good alternative but after I listened to it reading for 10 minutes, I wanted to drown myself.

Overall it is a very good ebook reader and I like it a lot. I'm not overly keen on the Read Aloud function but each to their own. It's definitely up there as one to have.

Google Play Books was reviewed by on