Google Books Now Available for iPhone

Google Books iPhone 4

Google today officially took the wraps off the eBook store we’ve been expecting and launched apps for both Android and iOS to boot. While comparisons will inevitably be made with Amazon’s Kindle service as well as Apple’s fledgeling iBooks, Google’s offering does have a couple of interesting angles worth noting.

Google Books iPhone 4One of the interesting things of note is that Google has, perhaps typically, gone for the open approach. Any device that can handle JavaScript can handle a book – there isn’t any actual need for the aforementioned native apps. The advantage of those though is that they make offline reading possible – perfect for those times when you’re away from WiFi or 3G coverage. Your reading status is synced between devices using the Google Books servers – par for the course with this kind of tech these days.

The online store – currently around 3 million books strong – is web-based like Amazon’s Kindle store and is (currently) only available in the US (Free, View in iTunes). Purchasing is handled using your existing Google account and Google checkout. Expect prices similar to what you’re used to paying at their competitors too.

I’ve personally spent limited time with the iOS app and considering I’m not based in the US haven’t been able to test out the purchasing of books. The app itself does work as expected and comes preloaded with 3 free books, the pick of which for me is Jane Austen’s Price and Prejudice.

All the usual features are in there too; chapters are selectable as you would expect, and text size and colour scheme can be changed to taste. There’s also a search feature that will list all uses of the word specified.

At the time of writing I’ve not yet managed to highlight – even for copying – any text whatsoever. Whether this is choice or oversight is unclear.

So there we have it, another entry into the eBook market, or at least the US one. It’s early days for Google Books, but so far it seems to function as advertised – but can it compete with the jugganaut that is Amazon?

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Oliver HaslamGoogle Books Now Available for iPhone