Google Play Magazines (Android) review: Google's often-overlooked magazine reader app

Like many of Google's homegrown Android apps, Google Play Magazines leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to visual design. The main dashboard consists of only a flat black screen with the covers of your purchased magazines laid out in rows. To get a slightly more attractive carousel-style interface, switch to View Recent.

Once you open up an issue, flipping through pages is a snap. You can swipe left and right one by one, or tap to pull up page thumbnails for faster flipping. There's also a table of contents on the bottom-left, though it's mostly text based, which isn't quite as fun as the thumbnails. If the text on a page gets too small to read, the pinch-and-zoom gesture helps. Otherwise, you can switch to a fully text-based version of any page, which kills most of the visuals, but gives you the option to change text size to enhance readability.

Tap the screen to pull up a nifty thumbnail slider. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

For the most part, tablets and phones offer similar viewing experiences (except for the screen size, of course). A vertical screen shows you a single page at a time, while a horizontal orientation gives you a full-page spread.

When it comes to performance, Google Play Magazines could use some work. Even though issues were saved locally on my devices, I routinely experienced some lag when loading, with some pages taking a few seconds to show up. Some users have complained that pages failed to load altogether, but I didn't experience the issue in my tests.

Overall, if you're into magazines and you love doing your reading on your mobile devices, Google Play Magazines is a fantastic choice. Since Android users are already fairly locked into the ecosystem, buying subscriptions and individual issues through the Google Play service should be a snap. We hope some of the performance issues are addressed in the next version of the app.

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    Google Play Magazines (Android)

    Part Number: com.google.android.apps.magazines
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Regional specs shown for US. UK specs are unavailable.

    • Category Entertainment
      News readers and aggregators
    • Compatibility Android