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.

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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.

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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).

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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.