Google Play Audiobooks get Smart Resume, Bookmarks, and greater speed controls
For many months, rumors stated that audiobooks would launch soon in Google Play. Recent versions of the Google Play Books app contained strings referencing them, and Google finally launched audiobooks in the Play Store in January. At launch, Google stated that audiobooks were available in 45 countries and nine languages.
Now, Google is adding more features to audiobooks in Google Play. The first feature addition is Smart Resume. Google states that “interruptions happen all the time”, and it’s common to need to pause an audiobook in the middle of a sentence or word. Although pausing reading a book is easy, the same can’t be said for pausing and resuming an audiobook. Up until now, when users have resumed the book, the resume feature hasn’t been intelligent enough. Now, Smart Resume will “intelligently rewind [users]” to the beginning of the word or sentence when they pick their audiobook again, so they will be able to jump to the exact place where they left off.
The next addition is Bookmarks. This is a basic feature, but it’s important nonetheless. Users can save their favorite moments in audiobooks by tapping the bookmark icon to save this spot in the Google Play Books app on an Android or iOS device.
Audiobooks are now integrated with the newly launched routines on the Google Assistant. Users can, for example, start an audiobook for their commute to work routine hands-free. After adding audiobooks to their routine in the Google Home app, users need to say “Ok Google, tell me about my day” to start their routines.
Google has also added greater speed controls. Users can listen at 3x speed (which is the fastest), or choose to slow books down to 0.5x speed to go over things slowly.
Finally, users can now share audiobooks and ebooks using Family Library with up to five family members for free in 13 new countries. Shared books can be read on Android, iOS and the web. The new countries include Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Chile, Mexico, Japan (audiobooks only) and South Africa.
The new features are now being rolled-out on Android, iOS, and on devices with the Google Assistant.