The beauty of engineers: Google

December 7, 2010

I have a US iTunes account, so I was able to download the new Google Books app. Unfortunately, Google is smarter than Apple and won’t sell me books because I’m in the UK, so I’m stuck with the bundled freebies: Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein (arf) and Hans Christian Anderson’s Wonderful Stories for Children.*

There’s little to report at first glance. I’m concerned about the books staying in the cloud, but we’ll come back to that another time. For now, there’s not much to differentiate the iPad experience from reading GBooks on the web.

The menus are basic. There’s an index, there’s search, there’s a (nice) progress bar:

This is good though – gimmicky in this context, but kind of wonderful if you’re reading something old (or the OCR is particularly terrible) – the ability to switch between the flowing text, and Google’s original scans:

All standard system fonts present and correct. Increased/decreased text size (and, oddly, three different line heights). Night mode.

But not much more. No selecting text, no copy and paste, which is useless, and means no bookmarking, for one big, obvious thing. This is already a killer feature for me, and I’d be interested to know if that’s across all the apps, and interested to see how long it lasts. There are, it’s just possible, murky legal times ahead for bookmarking in electronic texts. Google might be affected by this. Or they might just be rubbish.

And then I saw this:

Google I love you.

* Is there something interesting in the big players’ default offerings? iBooks arrives with, if I remember correctly, Winnie the Pooh, Kindle with the New American Dictionary.

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