Google announced and discussed updates to almost all of their major services yesterday at what is being regarded as one of the biggest Google I/O event yet. Many of you must already be aware of the feature additions in Search, Maps, Play Services etc. by now, but you may have missed one very useful feature update to Play Books in all the chaos that is the technology blogosphere on the day of a new keynote. The latest version has a couple of new features that give it a serious edge over competing products from Apple and Amazon. This includes the ability to upload your own eBooks in EPUB or PDF format to your Play Books account, and keep your reading progress across all your devices in sync! Check out the details after the jump.
The ability to upload your own eBooks to the Play Books makes for a killer feature, as this means you longer need to worry about carrying your entire eBook collection with yourself all the time, and then doing manual labor to keep things synced across multiple devices.
Uploading books is great and all, but what really makes the difference is the second feature i.e. how you can then read these books on your Android smartphone/tablet, iPhone, iPad or desktop/laptop PC through the Play Books website and keep things synced. Apart from just keeping your eBook library itself in sync, the service ensures that the last page you read before dozing off last night, your personal bookmarks, any notes you added – everything is saved in the cloud, and can be accessed from any of the aforementioned devices, providing a seamless reading experience no matter where you open your eBooks to read them.
You have two options for uploading your personal collection of eBooks. You can either upload them manually, or have Play Books go through your Google Drive folder to look for compatible files and transfer them to Play Books. Both options are available on the Play Books Upload page after you sign in (shown above).
Speaking of signing in, you must be living in the US – or have some way of fooling Google into thinking you are in the US by using VPNs or proxy services – to be able to access the service and upload your books to it. This is one area where Play Books still lags far behind iBooks, Amazon Books and many other competing services.
Once you have uploaded your favorite books, you can download these books to your mobile device in the Play Books app for Android and iOS (linked below) for reading them on the go.
Now, whenever you read a chapter of Dune, add a note in 1984, or bookmark a page in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy on your way to work, it will be there on Play Books across all your devices.