updated 01:47 pm EST, Wed December 19, 2012
Reading feature accompanied by pinch-zoom, bug fixes
Google has updated its ebook app for Android with a feature that reads books aloud for the user. Updated yesterday, Google Play Books (Google Play) also adds the ability to pinch or double-tap to zoom, text-editing features for notes, as well as recommending other titles within the Play bookstore, using the already-owned book collection and popular titles to offer potential titles to purchase.
Read Aloud is said to work with "most flowing text books" in the Play store, though its normal setting uses the on-device text-to-speech facility to read out text, rather than use a recording of someone reading the text out loud. While this helps save on bandwidth by not downloading pre-created audio files, it does open the book up to the software's reading ruleset, which sometimes mispronounces words or names. A test by Electronista found that "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" became "A Lice's Adventures in Wonderland." An option for a higher quality of audio is available, which does require a network connection, and eliminates the issue.
The addition of Read Aloud brings Google's ebook app in line with other e-reader offerings on other platforms. The Amazon Kindle and other hardware e-readers have the feature built in, and both iBooks and Google Play Books for iOS take advantage of Apple's VoiceOver function to perform the same task.