Google pushes e-books onto iPhone, Android devices

Get out your glasses and start reading Shakespeare or Poe on your Apple iPhone

Google Friday released a mobile version of its Google Book Search, which means iPhone or Android phone users will be able to read Mark Twain or Jane Austen on the train or in the park.

The question, according to analysts, is will they want to.

"Even with people with younger eyes than mine, I see few people really reading on their iPhone," said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata. "Google has a rather long time horizon with this. On a mobile phone, this is almost a technical pilot because I don't see mainstream audiences reading Shakespeare on their iPhone."

Members of the Google Book Search Mobile Team announced in a blog on Thursday that Google's collection of 1.5 million mobile public domain books in the US are now available on the iPhone and Android. The books were already available for desktop and laptops via Google Book Search, but the new mobile editions are optimized to be read on a small screen, they added.

The team also noted that the mobile application uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) techniques.

"The extraction of text from page images is a difficult engineering task," wrote the team members. "Smudges on the physical books' pages, fancy fonts, old fonts, torn pages, etc. can all lead to errors in the extracted text. Imperfect OCR is only the first challenge in the ultimate goal of moving from collections of page images to extracted-text based books. The technical challenges are daunting, but we'll continue to make enhancements to our OCR and book structure extraction technologies. With this launch, we believe that we've taken an important step toward more universal access to books."

John Byrne, an analyst at Technology Business Research, said that he found, after trying out the application today, that the new mobile Book Search application requires a lot of scrolling - something he wasn't totally comfortable with.

"And right now, it's only offered for books that are in the public domain," he added. "In effect, they don't currently have a mechanism for you to buy the latest John Grisham novel. That's something that Kindle will be quicker out of the gate [with] when they introduce the mobile version of Kindle. But, longer term, you can expect to see that sort of mechanism in place."

Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, noted that he's seeing a lot of people using Amazon's Kindles, so there's a growing market for e-books and e-readers.

"It's a smart move for Google to continue to expand the range and flexibility of the mobile devices that run their software, no question about that," he added. "But the next step is getting something in place so users can access what they really want -- current books, magazines, newspapers, etc. This can be done either by Google or by third parties, but it is essential that it happens if they want to have a true competitive advantage and become a product that moves across markets."

And both Byrne and Olds noted that Google needs to figure out a way to make current book releases available.

"For this new feature to be compelling to users, and drive sales, someone will need to address the issue of getting more and better content," said Olds. "Reading Silas Marner on a plane will just make the plane ride longer."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Google Book Search

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?