Google pushes e-books onto iPhone, Android devices
Get out your glasses and start reading Shakespeare or Poe on your Apple iPhone
Computerworld - Google Inc. today released a mobile version of its Google Book Search, which means iPhone or Android phone users will be able to read Mark Twain or Jane Austen on the train or in the park.
The question, according to analysts, is will they want to.
"Even with people with younger eyes than mine, I see few people really reading on their iPhone," said Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. "Google has a rather longtime horizon with this. On a mobile phone, this is almost a technical pilot because I don't see mainstream audiences reading Shakespeare on their iPhone."
Members of the Google Book Search Mobile Team announced in a blog on Thursday that Google's collection of 1.5 million mobile public domain books in the U.S. are now available on the iPhone and Android. The books were already available for desktop and laptops via Google Book Search, but the new mobile editions are optimized to be read on a small screen, they added.
The team also noted that the mobile application uses optical character recognition (OCR) techniques.
"The extraction of text from page images is a difficult engineering task," wrote the team members. "Smudges on the physical books' pages, fancy fonts, old fonts, torn pages, etc., can all lead to errors in the extracted text. Imperfect OCR is only the first challenge in the ultimate goal of moving from collections of page images to extracted text-based books. The technical challenges are daunting, but we'll continue to make enhancements to our OCR and book-structure extraction technologies. With this launch, we believe that we've taken an important step toward more universal access to books."
John Byrne, an analyst at Technology Business Research Inc., said that he found, after trying out the application today, that the new mobile Book Search application requires a lot of scrolling -- something he wasn't totally comfortable with.
"And right now, it's only offered for books that are in the public domain," he added. "In effect, they don't currently have a mechanism for you to buy the latest John Grisham novel. That's something that Kindle will be quicker out of the gate [with] when they introduce the mobile version of Kindle. But, longer term, you can expect to see that sort of mechanism in place."
"It's a smart move for Google to continue to expand the range and flexibility of the mobile devices that run their software, no question about that," he added. "But the next step is getting something in place so users can access what they really want -- current books, magazines, newspapers, etc. This can be done either by Google or by third parties, but it is essential that it happens if they want to have a true competitive advantage and become a product that moves across markets."
And both Byrne and Olds noted that Google needs to figure out a way to make current book releases available.
"For this new feature to be compelling to users and drive sales, someone will need to address the issue of getting more and better content," said Olds. "Reading Silas Marner on a plane will just make the plane ride longer."
Read more about Web Apps in Computerworld's Web Apps Topic Center.
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Six Ways Your Small Business Can Save with Internet Phone Service Traditional phone systems present two main problems for businesses: limited features and high costs. As a result, small businesses are migrating to Internet...
- Face Time Anytime Real-time communications facilitates team collaboration from nearly anywhere in the world. With facts and figures you can use to justify an investment
- Now is the time to implement a video conference solution Video conferencing is getting a lot of buzz lately due to the recent cost decrease, making it tangible for many law firms. It's...
- Video drives engagement Achieving maximum results means building a solid platform and network infrastructure. As digital age unfolds, it's clear that the ability to communicate effectively...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- Building Tomorrow's Infrastructure Listen to this podcast to discover how Crider Foods worked with PC Connection to update their IT infrastructure, while maintaining compliance and control. All Web Apps White Papers | Webcasts