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Google Play Books v3.5 Lets You Sync Your Notes and Bookmarks to Google Drive

google play booksGoogle rolled out a new update to its Android ebook app on Thursday which delivered on new features that Google has been hinting about for the past couple months.

Google Play Books v3.5 has a whole new interface, a new book discovery page, tweaks to how your library is displayed, and more.

To start, the "read now" page is now based on a damnable carousel rather than a simple tile or list view. In order to see your ebooks, you’ll need to swipe left or right (or switch to the "my library" page). Google has also added a new prompt which asks you to "tell us what you like" so they can help you discover new works, and each book’s icon now integrates a progress bar which tells you how far along you are.

And inside the book Google has added a fit-width option for full-screen horizontal viewing, an image zoom mode, and the option to turn the page while zoomed in (useful for comics and large PDFs, I think).

And that’s not even the best part. new version of Google Play Books now lets you back up your annotations to Google Drive. You’ll need to first enable the option in the settings menu, but once you have done so the notes and highlights from each ebook will be saved as a Google Doc (one doc per ebook).

Here’s one example I threw together real quick just to show you that it works. As you can see, the text notes came through but the highlights did not. Each note or highlight is has a link to the page in the ebook where it was made.

It’s not clear why the highlights did not sync for that ebook, but the highlights did sync for another ebook, one which I uploaded to my Play Books account. I suspect that the publisher of the first book blocked this option behind the scenes.

In any case, Google has given us a new way to export or share our notes from ebooks in Google Play Books. That’s going to prove quite useful, don’t you think?

The app is free in Google Play.

Android Police

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Nicole July 21, 2015 um 7:32 pm

The backup of highlights to Google Drive would be soooo awesome if it worked with all books. So far none of the books purchased from Google Play Books that I have tried actually saved the highlighted text to the Google Drive document. It works fine on books without DRM though.

I think it’s really annoying that this feature is blocked on so many books. It’s virtually impossible to get a highlight out of Google Play Books. You can’t select and copy text from within the app on your device, you can’t highlight the text and share it via email or send it to Evernote, you can’t copy from the page in the web app. Your only option is to type out every single highlight like you would from a print book.

If you want to pirate a book you’re not going to highlight every single page one at a time and then use the Google Doc to create a copy and distribute it. It seems like these types of copyright protection don’t prevent piracy, they just annoy users who paid $12 for a book but then cannot enjoy what would otherwise be an excellent feature.

Vikarti Anatra July 22, 2015 um 2:11 am

It’s even worse. According to my tests even if book is DRM free according to it’s PlayStore page but was bought from PlayStore(and not uploaded) highlights won’t sync.
Even Amazon doesn’t have such limitations with Kindle. You can see full highlights on and it’s possible to copy them too.

Nicole July 22, 2015 um 2:14 am

Ohhh that is even more annoying then! My tests on DRM-free books were indeed on ones that I had uploaded myself.

Nate Hoffelder July 22, 2015 um 6:36 am

That’s weird.

The feature is working on this ebook, and I bought it in Play Books:

But I don’t own very many ebooks in Play Books, so I can’t test it further.

Nate Hoffelder July 22, 2015 um 9:30 am

And now I’m finding that the several public domain titles I got from Play Books can’t sync their highlights.

According to Google, there’s one of two causes:

The book doesn’t support the feature, or

Too much of the book is already highlighted.

Maybe this feature is still being rolled out?

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