Google Play Books for Android review: Google gives its e-book reader a lot more power

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Hot Products
4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Google Play Books now comes with integrated Google Translate, Wikipedia, Maps, and other resources.

The Bad You can only use Play Books to read books bought through Google Play.

The Bottom Line Google Play Books can handle all of your basic e-reading needs and then some. Just don't expect it to be capable of importing books from third-party sources.


8.8 Overall
  • Features and Support 8.0
  • Installation and Setup 10.0
  • Interface 8.0
  • Performance 10.0

The newest version of Google Play Books brings some much-needed functionality to a previously weak e-reader app. While the app isn't perfect yet, it's a heck of a lot closer than it was before its latest update.

While Google Play Books' interface is unquestionably clean and easy to navigate, I do think it could use a bit more visual style. As it is now, the app feels sterile, with the book carousel sitting on top of a flat, dark gray backdrop. Alternatively, you can display your books in a list, but that's even less attractive.

View full gallery (5 Photos)
The flat gray background here is a little stale, if you ask us. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

The flow of Google Play Books is simple and intuitive. Once you purchase and download a book on Google Play, it automatically shows up in your Books app, on all of the devices that are connected to your Google account. To flip through a book, you can either use the scrubber bar at the bottom of the screen or the interactive table of contents via the button at the top. One thing I love about the in-book experience is the 3D page-turning animation. It's not ground-breaking, but it adds a bit of polish to an otherwise standard experience.

Hot Products


Discuss: Google Play Books (Android)

Conversation powered by Livefyre