On Tuesday night, surprisingly ahead of the usual update-all-the-things-Wednesday, Google released a major revision of the Play Books app for Android, updating it from v2 (2.9.21) to v3 (3.0.15). The changelog, which was shockingly present from the get-go (thank you!), confused me a bit but after digging around, I finally figured out what it means. Oh, and I found another fix that wasn't mentioned.

What's New?

The official changelog is as follows:

  • Added the ability to search the text of original-pages books.
  • Added a "see all" shortcut from Read Now to My Library.
  • Stability improvements.

Searching in scanned pages

Play Books supports a variety of book formats:

  • some books have "flowing text"
  • some books have scanned pages
  • some have both.

As it turns out, searching within books that only contain scanned pages was not possible until Play Books v3, though searching of the other 2 types was already operational in v2.9 because they contained the search-friendly "flowing text." It's a nice first step, though be warned that the OCR-based search is not perfect.

Here's an example of a book that only contains scanned pages and no "flowing text": The Crusaders, an Original Comedy. Go ahead and test it out if you want.

wm_Screenshot_2013-10-15-17-31-38 wm_Screenshot_2013-10-15-17-31-43 wm_Screenshot_2013-10-15-17-32-03

Left: Play Books v2; middle, right: Play Books v3, now with search capabilities for scanned pages

See All in Read Now

A See All shortcut was added to the Read Now screen so that you can jump to the full library without having to pull out the left-side navigation bar. This makes a lot of sense, and there really isn't much to discuss here other than to acknowledge it.

wm_Screenshot_2013-10-15-17-44-04 wm_Screenshot_2013-10-15-17-44-30

Left: Play Books v2; right: Play Books v3

Searching for books in Google Search is fixed

If you load up Google Search, look for one of your books, and then tap it, Play Books v2.9 used to incorrectly dump you into Read Now instead of opening the book you tapped on. Play Books v3 correctly opens the book right away. This change wasn't documented in the changelog (perhaps it's one of the stability improvements).

wm_Screenshot_2013-10-15-17-45-21 wm_Screenshot_2013-10-15-17-45-51

Play Books v3


If you still haven't gotten the APK, you can download v3.0.15 from our mirror. Otherwise, grab your update from the Play Store.

P.S. The teardown didn't unearth anything particularly interesting.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Dimitri Kandalepas

    v3...half-life 3 confirmed?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It's about time this meme dies.

      • NickAVV

        It's about time Valve releases a new Half Life game

        • Gabe

          Its about we all forget that will ever happen. Valve will hold onto that until the day they need to rescue themselves.

      • senor_heisenberg

        I agree, but I admit, the really crazy, way out there HL3 ones are good.

    • FrillArtist

      Dimitri commented...idiot confirmed?

  • ralpe

    I wish google updates the UI of its translate and calendar apps as well.

  • Wazzifer

    It's Wednesday somewhere!

    • Alexei Watson

      Welcome to my wednesday lunch break at work - Australia

  • Kwills88

    all i really want from G-Books is to upload my books directly from my phone's storage...the fact that i gotta do this from the web version of the playstore is a pain.

    • http://www.maverickcreative.ca/ Joshua Richards

      Agreed, I have all my books as epubs in drive, and I have to use a web browser to first upload them to my library before I can see them on my device. The upload functionality should be available in the same manner as it is on the desktop within the app.

    • Sergio

      Same as Google Play Music...

    • mustbepbs

      It's so strange. For all of the cool features Google comes out with, it's the most obvious they seem to forget about.

      I mean, how long did it take them to add the ability to delete Spam and Trash from the Gmail app? 4 years?

    • [M]

      More painful is that you have to upload them. Why can't it just open from the device?

  • Sierra Tango

    Did anyone else lose the dictionary functionality for uploaded books? It seems it only works for Play Store purchased books now.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I just tested both 2.9 and 3.0, and this feature is the same for me. Uploaded books don't have the floating dictionary on the bottom, but purchased ones do. Both versions are the same.

      • Sierra Tango

        That's a real shame they took it away from us. It was working fine in 2.9 for a little while until 2 or 3 weeks ago. It's like they disabled it server-side or something. Must be their way of pushing us to buy books from the Play Store. I hope they don't start removing more features for uploaded books.

        • Roh_Mish

          I don't ever remember it working in uploaded books.

          • Francisco Frazão

            It did.

      • Francisco Frazão

        I just got a reply to a Play Store review stating this is a bug they're trying to fix. Fingers crossed...

  • TouchMyBox

    I wish they would add the option to have a "time left in chapter" marker at the bottom of the screen like amazon does in the Kindle app.

  • unni123456

    Since the last update, the built in dictionary seems to have disappeared. Please bring that baaaaaack!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      See my reply to Sierra.

      • unni123456

        Well, that's bad. :(

  • h_f_m

    Does it still not keep synced between devices correctly? It never does between my n4 and n7.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Seems to sync OK for me.

      • h_f_m

        Man.. I was recently having problems switching between my N4 and N7 reading a book in Google Books. My progress was never staying in sync between the two, it was rather annoying to get on the subway and whip my phone out to find that the progress I made at home on the N7 wasn't synced.

        Kindle app never has that issue. This was as recently as a month or two ago. Shrug..

        I'll try it again and see if it's magically fixed.

    • Ray

      Works fine for me.

  • Jays2Kings

    Wow I finally got in the rollout early. Feels good.

  • bg15407

    Give Play Services to Srilanka

    • a

      and human rights to northern Sri Lanka

  • jiggy

    Why on earth would this app not have an offline dictionary?! Ugh!

  • https://plus.google.com/106721695871122826476/posts?hl=en Aja Hemphill

    Remaining wish list: upload from mobile device and ability to highlight PDF files.

  • L’autre

    Get rid of the 50mo limitation for uploaded books that's the only improvement I ask for

  • Deckard_Cain

    Please allow me to define the language of the books I want to look for! I only read in english and don't want to look to the portuguese store. :/

  • http://wave-france.blogspot.com Supercopter

    "Added the ability to search the text of original-pages books."

    Great to see how reCAPTCHA is paying off. Well done G.