Acquisition of key staff by Google forces slow closure of Oyster
An e-book subscription service that aimed to be the equivalent of "Netflix for books" has announced it is preparing to shut down after two years of operation. Oyster revealed it is starting to take steps to shutter its service "over the next several months," with reports claiming the closure is being triggered by Google hiring a number of key employees from the company to bolster its own Google Play Books service.
Google Talk bug sends messages to multiple Hangouts users
Users of Google Hangouts are finding that messages are being routed to the wrong recipients. Messages sent from Google Talk clients to Hangouts users are reportedly being received by other Hangouts contacts than the intended message target, writes TechCrunch. Google has since released a statement, advising that it is "investigating reports of an issue with Google Talk" and asks users to check the App Status Dashboard for future updates.
iOS app update rolls out textbooks
As per Google's announcement in July regarding its plan to release textbooks to Google Play Books, listings are now available via an update to the iOS app.The textbooks are currently available to purchase outright, though some titles will be offering a six month lower-cost "rental" option. Free samples of textbooks are provided. Presently only available to US customers, the Google Play Books app is available for Android, iOS, and on the web.
Read Now section allows quicker access to items
Google has updated the iOS and Android versions of Play Books with the ability to upload already-owned books and documents. The option supports PDF and EPUB files, but uploads must be done via the Google Books website. Any uploaded titles sync across devices.
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.
Deal follows resolution of publisher litigation
French customers of Google's Play Store will now be able to purchase books through the entertainment hub. The news was announced in a post on Google's European Public Policy Blog. French access to Google's book store comes following the resolution of a six-year legal saga involving suits from both French author and publisher guilds.
Definitions, translations among other options
Google has released a major update of the Google Play Books iOS app, v1.3.0. One addition is the ability to add bookmarks by tapping the top-right corner. Selecting text meanwhile gives users several new options, such as colored highlights, private notes, or translating text into over 50 languages.
Google e-book resales shift back to Play store
Google gave notice Thursday that it was ending its e-book reseller program. The effort, which let physical retailers and other third parties resell from Google Play Books, had "not gained the traction" Google wanted. A current set of 16 partners would be phasing out as the service wound down by the end of January.
Gmail tablet UI hits Android 3, Play Books goes 3D
Google updated two of its core Android apps on Wednesday to bring major new interface updates for certain users. Gmail (Google Play) now lets Android 3.2 tablet owners get the same Gmail interface as they would on Android 4.0, including swipe gestures to flip between conversations and more advanced control over labels. It can likewise sync the last 30 days of messages both to streamline search and help users work offline.