Google Play Books Receiving Update, Boosts Reference Functionality

October 30, 2014 - Written By David Steele

Many of Google’s own applications are in the process of receiving updates to bring them into line with Google’s new Material Design look and feel. Some applications have already received these updates whereas others are about to receive them, which is good news as we expect the over the air update to Android 5.0 Lollipop to start to hit devices from Monday. Today’s news is of a major update for Google Play Books, which not only is being pulled into the Material Design era but is also receiving some love in the design area, as in the words of Scott Dougall, the director of product management for Google Play Books,the interface is being updated to make it easier for particular genres such as travel guides and journals. Google says that this is Play Books’ biggest update since launch.

Google’s mindset here is that whilst eBook software is fine for reading a novel, or something that you might read from the start to the finish, it’s less ideal for referencing material. Here, the big G is thinking about cookbooks, text books, reference material and similar. They’ve beefing up the application by adding features designed for helping readers use reference titles: we’ve a new page navigation screen with an improved tablet of contents (it now shows subsections too) and of more interest, a new Skim Mode. Skim Mode is activated by tapping the top centre of a page, where it zooms out of the page to show you more text in less space. This allows the reader to easily skip through pages and sections, but you can also bookmark particular sections. Skim Mode is designed to be searchable; it sounds perfect for finding the ideal cheesecake recipe in a dessert book.

It’s good that Google isn’t only updating applications to the new Material Design but is instead adding new, thoughtful features. We don’t know when the update will start arriving but given the imminent release of Android Lollipop, it must be coming very shortly. Meanwhile, do you use Play Books? Are you looking forward to the new Skim Mode as it’ll make finding the section you wish to read a lot quicker? Let us know in the comments below.