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Google Play Books

  • Android, iPad, iPhone
  • Free
  • age 18+
Downloadfor Android Downloadfor iOS

About Google Play Books

The free Play Books reader lets you read content bought or sourced from the store. It's a free download for Android phones and iOS devices including the iPhone and iPad, while a browser-based version should work with almost any browser and operating system. You'll need a Google account to use it.

Teacher Review

On the iPad, opening Play Books takes you first to your library, which displays any titles you've previously bought or sampled on a simple grey tray – there's no attempt to emulate the slick bookshelf look of iBooks. Titles can be sorted by date, title and author, sliding around obligingly when shifting between each. Once you've finished reading a publication or you've lost the will to go further, you can tidy it into an archive, leaving the main view for the most relevant titles. Book graphics are displayed above written titles.

Those using Play Books across more than one device will find that their reading progress is automatically saved and synchronised, along with any notes or bookmarks they make. The default reading view is a fullscreen white-on-black with a progress slider and page count at the foot of the display. Tapping the document body brings up a range of options that includes navigation by chapter, bookmarks or notes, a text search feature and book information.

The display options include day and night themes, a choice of several fonts, line spacing and text sizes, but it's possible to abandon flowable text and view a book's original page layout – the iPad's large screen makes this viable, but it's less practical on a smartphone. Long-pressing the document brings up a text selection tool that offers four colours of highlighting and the ability to enter notes, perform translations or a dictionary lookup, or search online or within the document text.

While the Android app's functionality is similar, its presentation and operation is a little different. The default carousel view displays books with their title and author, and on our Galaxy S’s screen there was room only for two titles, or four when viewing in landscape orientation. There's also a list view, but, with no sorting options, this isn’t ideal either. We found night mode most restful on the eyes and, on phones with an OLED screen, it ought to prolong battery life too.

The Android app supports bookmarks, but it doesn't allow you to add notes, and it also doesn't support the quick bookmark, note and chapter navigation found on the iPad. Fortunately the page slider displays page and chapter information as it moves, so you can navigate by chapter after a fashion. We weren't impressed with the Read aloud option, which occasionally spelled out common words – we couldn't fathom why.

The Play Books store sells protected, ePub-formatted books, so you can transfer the titles you purchase to a compatible eReader if you have one. The reader app doesn't support other file formats, however, so it can't be used to read PDF files on a smartphone or tablet – a bit of an oversight compared to Apple iBooks and the Kobo eReading App.

This isn't a bad reading app, but it's not as slick or fully-featured as some of the competition and so it's only any use if you plan to buy or download free books from Google. We'd recommend the Kobo eReading App, which can handle content bought from stores other than Kobo's own.


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App Details


Android, iPad, iPhone






Organisational and Productivity Skills


In-App Purchases - Yes

In-App Advertising - No


Google LLC

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Screenshots for Google Play Books

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All the books you love. On the page or out loud. Anywhere you are.

Meet Google Play Books for iOS: the one app to enjoy ebooks and audiobooks from Google Play.

Dive into a great book today with millions of titles from Google Play on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Download your book to read or listen on the go. When you’re finished, find your next favorite from recommendations personalized just for you.

●       New! Audiobooks are now available on Google Play Books
●       No monthly subscription required
●       Navigate chapters with real chapter titles - not track lists
●       Pick up where you left off on all your devices

●       Preview free samples from our catalog of millions of books
●       Read your books, comics, and textbooks even when you’re offline
● Tap the page and watch your favorite comic book or manga come to life with Bubble Zoom
●       Take notes that sync with your Google Drive and share them with a group for easy collaboration.
●       Use the Night Light setting to automatically adjust the background color and brightness to make it easier for you to fall asleep

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