Google has issued an update to its official Play Books application today, effectively bringing a duo of powerful new features to word-hungry readers. Users can now listen to the entirety of most of their textual books through the application’s new “Read Aloud” utility. While we wouldn’t recommend using it for a long period of time (it sounds like the voice on your car’s GPS), it certainly seems to do the job.
Along with a slew of bug fixes, pinch to zoom and double tap to zoom are present in the newest version. Google has also incorporated a fresh personalized recommendations menu at the conclusion of the user’s library, offering up a quick glance at what other similar titles are available. Be sure to hit the source link or scan the QR code below to download the update.
With the recent launch of Google Play to replace the Android Market, it seems clear that Google is planning some major moves, likely to compete with its most obvious competitor, Apple’s iTunes and iBooks. This doesn’t require much explanation as to why, since it would be a vital move for Google to expand its services in order to remain in a contending position. It seems that in addition to offering apps, movies, music and e-books, Google is planning to offer audiobooks, magazines and newspapers as well.
The initial sighting was in the in the Google Play Help Center by Google news site Google Operating System, with empty pages for “Audio Books” and “Magazines and Journals”. Also noted is Google’s registration of several place holder domains such as googleplaymagazines.com, googleplaynewspapers.com, googleplaynewsstand.com and googleplaytv.com among various other iterations of these themes. Looks to me like Google is planning another major update to its services, and I for one will welcome them with open arms when they’re released some time in the future.
All those with a B & N Nook Color should be happy to hear that a new update is due out and its going to be bringing some nice features to the Android e-reader. Thos features will include access to some Froyo applications, games, Flash Support in web browsing and email. The update does not give full access to the Android Market however, but there’s still a few nice tidbits of apps they’ve thrown in none the less making this a pretty good bundle.
The update will show frequently used apps right beside your read books and magazines, and flash browsing will allow you to play all the online videos you want. The reading functionality has been updated as well to allow ‘read and play’ for childrens books, where the book can have interactive games and challenges with the text and pics. For other books, page turn animations have been added, with landscape reading if one desires, as well as added videos within the books as well. Great for ‘How-to’ articles and books. Other improvements include a new social portal which allows a user to see what their friends are reading, and even request to ‘borrow’ a book they have.
The update will be made available to all Nook Color owners over the ext few weeks to Wi-Fi connected devices, but you can also download and install the update manually from here.
A couple of things to mention for the Nook app from Barnes & Noble. The first is that the Nook app has been updated to version 2.5 and includes a Wish List feature, a library Grid View, as well as a book download progress bar, cause Barnes & Noble knows hoe we LOVE to watch the progress of downloads and installations (kidding). The app will serve as a nice improvement for Android tablet devices around 7 inches and larger using the Library Grid View.
Speaking of tablets, here’s the second thing B&N has going down for us Android folks. We should see a Honeycomb version of the app coming out around Spring, which by my count, should be any day now, but maybe they mean ‘end-of spring’.
Regardless, you can grab the Nook app or its update by clicking here.
Yesterday we showed here that the Barnes and Noble Nook Color ereader can run Honeycomb without any real major issues. This puts the NookColor in league with other tablets that have been shown running Android 3.0, and leaves the other ereaders in the dust. If you want to give it a try, you can download it at XDA-Developers. Just click the source link below.
*insert hack warning – please be careful when rooting or flashing any Android device – back it up*
Reports are coming in that Google is planning to launch its anticipated E-book service called Google Editions. The idea behind the service is a bit different from the major competitors in that the books can be purchased through a variety of online retailers and can be accessed anywhere through a Google account.
It’s unclear at this point whether or not Google is planning a dedicated hardware reader like the Kindle, but given the emerging popularity of smartphones and tablet computers (including the upcoming Chrome tablet?), chances are they will just release a series of apps for multiple platforms and devices.
While no specific date has been set, Google Editions is slated to launch in the US by the end of the year, and internationally sometime in Q1 of 2011.