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Will Google Home Read Your eBooks to You? (All Evidence Points to No)

google homeWith Google having revealed their take on the Amazon Echo today, the Google Home, many are wondering whether this Wifi-equipped speaker will match the Echo feature for feature.

In particular, the ebook world is wondering whether the Google Home will be able to read ebooks:

Of course, the thing that most concerns us about Amazon’s Echo, and that would seem to concern us about Google Home, is how well it does with e-books and audiobooks. The Echo can play Audible books and read Kindle books aloud; will Google Home do the same for Google Play books? The answer isn’t clear right now. None of the news sources I’ve been able to find mention e-books or audiobooks at all (and I missed seeing the portion of Google I/O where it was demonstrated, so I don’t know if there’s a mention there), but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. The Google Play Books Android app can read e-books aloud, after all.

The answer is no – or at the very least, not right now, and possibly not ever.

Today’s event was more of a teaser than a launch, an announcement, or release, but we have learned enough to strongly doubt the possibility that Home can read ebooks.

For one thing, ebooks were noticeably absent from the presentation (music, yes; ebooks, no):

Furthermore, The Verge quotes Google reps as saying that Google Home will do less than the Echo, and do it better. Google is especially touting the AI.

Google Home will be shipping with a new virtual assistant (dubbed "Assistant"- how original!) which is supposed to be capable of starting a "two-way natural language conversation to figure out what you’re asking".

Google Assistant is launching today, and they’ve posted this video. Tell me if it sounds familiar.

If anything, that should remind you of Google Now, google’s current virtual assistant app which, so far as I have been able to determine, doesn’t read ebooks aloud.

Google Now is much more focused on a question-response loop, just like you would expect from a search engine company, and all the reports suggest that Google Assistant has inherited that focus.

So while it is really too early to make any statements, we can look Google’s past and draw the conclusion that the Google Home won’t be reading to us any time soon.

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Syn May 18, 2016 um 10:24 pm

Google might have Alexa beat on really detailed internet searches. But if I’m looking for something that detailed, I’d just look it up myself. I use Alexa for quick questions and to control my lights, read my Audible and Kindle books and much much more.

This just feels like Google Now. Same robotic voice, another terrible name with no personality. Amazon has made a lot of good to mediocre to complete misses, but with Echo, they hit it out of the park.

It also seems like they caught everyone with their pants down. Everyone was so focused on the phones, they neglected the home, the hub of internet of things. Amazon out-teched the tech companies.

Frank May 19, 2016 um 9:12 am

Google Now certainly cannot read ebooks.
With Google’s lack of focus on ebooks, I doubt Google Home will be able to read ebooks either.

Nate Hoffelder May 19, 2016 um 11:00 am

Yep. That’s the conclusion I reached as well.

Jason van Gumster May 19, 2016 um 2:58 pm

"Amazon out-teched the tech companies"? Amazon *is* a tech company… arguably one of the granddaddies among them.

For myself, I’m looking forward to what can be done with Mycroft (

HMcG December 9, 2016 um 3:59 pm

Sadly, the answer for the Amazon Echo is also no, at least in the UK. So far, both seem to be a neat idea with very limited real benefit. The Echo is particularly disappointing, given that it has better functionality in the USA, so the limitations are what Amazon can be bothered rolling out, rather than actual technical limits.

Jared December 15, 2016 um 7:50 pm

Google home doesn’t need to be able to read ebooks to satisfy many audio book listeners. It need only play pre-recorded audio books, say from Project Gutenberg.

Google Books Read Aloud Screen Off | cm June 12, 2017 um 1:17 am

[…] Will Google Home Read Your eBooks to You? (All Evidence … – If anything, that should remind you of Google Now, google’s current virtual assistant app which, so far as I have been able to determine, doesn’t read ebooks aloud. […]

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