Android and iOS are the two dominant forces in the mobile OS world, each with its own set of apps tightly integrated with its ecosystem. Whether you want to watch a movie, listen to music or read an eBook, both Apple and Google have developed a platform and entered into partnerships to bring you the best.
While Android may have the larger user base of the two, this is not to say that Apple is lagging very far behind when it comes to active devices in the world.
Today, we will learn which is a better platform if you want to read an eBook: Play Books or iBooks.
Here is the thing, Apple operates a very tight ship. That has always been the case. The number of Google apps available on the App Store has always been higher than the number of Apple apps in the Play Store. This is also true for eBook app.
While Play Books can be downloaded and used on iOS devices, you can’t download and install iBooks on any Android device. This reduces the latter’s reach considerably, especially when there are more smartphones running the Android OS.
Why this matters? Authors and publishers will consider their potential audience reach while publishing their books. A larger user base clearly gives Play Books an advantage.
Smartphones users with both Android and iOS devices will also have to reconsider their options. I would want something that is available everywhere.
Once again Google gets the brownie points here. You can not only read Play Books on any Android or iOS device, but you can also launch your favorite browser and read eBooks on Play Store online.
Apple, on the other hand, uses iCloud to sync books which you can then access and read on iOS or MacOS devices only. No love for other platforms or browsers. This makes Google Play Books a more convenient option out of the two.
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3. DRM Protected Content
Apple is known to be a lone ranger. Always willing to take the less beaten path, creating its own rules and format. DRM protected content is not an option for them it seems. This is why Apple decided to create its own DRM policy called Fair Play.
This means any eBook bought from iBooks cannot be read on any other eReader device like Kindle, Kobo, and Nook. This matters because these are popular eBook readers that people like to carry around and use.
Google Play Books uses Adobe’s Digital Edition which is also supported by some popular eBook readers like Nook and Kobo among others.
Note that eBooks bought from iBooks and Play Store will not work on Kindle devices. While both iBooks and Play Books work with .epub format, Kindle uses .mobi.
Availability of titles and prices are different on both the platforms. Some titles are available on one platform while not on the other, and some titles are free on one platform while paid on another. Why?
This largely depends on two factors:
Deals & promotions
I think this is a tie because there are no clear records of the number of titles available on either platform.
On a related note, all of us have our own private collection of eBooks on our local hard drive. What about them?
Book readers tend to get attached to their books and like to maintain a library. Both Play Books and iBooks will allow you to add PDFs and EPUBs, however, Apple has made it difficult. After version 12.7 of iTunes was released, the functionality was removed altogether. There is an iCloud workaround which is too cumbersome but works nonetheless.
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Google is also leading the race when it comes to audiobooks. While eBooks are still more preferred due to the high cost associated with audiobooks, there are a number of audiobook titles available on the Play Books.
As an Apple user, you can’t buy audiobooks from Audible or any Kindle app. Why? Because Apple will charge a 30% commission which Amazon believes to be against the interest of its users and its business model. Frankly speaking, I think Amazon is right here.
Want to listen to audiobooks on Mac? Instead of iBooks app, you will have to go through iTunes and then transfer them to iBooks. This means you have to go through two apps before you can listen to it. Play Books offers a more integrated solution.
6. User Experience and User Interface
Both Play Books and iBooks come with a number of features to provide a refined reading experience. You can change and adjust font type and size depending on your screen size and eyesight.
Both eBook reader apps come with night time reading mode that reduces the emission of blue light. You have in-built dictionary with the ability to highlight text, make notes, and share them.
Having used both of them to read Art of War by Sun Tzu, I personally liked Play Books. Why? There were some additional options like translation. Highlighting the text in Play Books would bring up the dictionary automatically at the bottom of the screen. In iBooks, you have to scroll through options.
Both iBooks and Play Books have page turn animation that looks good but does little to improve functionality or feature.
Reading is to Mind What Whetstone is to Sword
Reading is a great activity. Something that everybody must indulge in. After going through the two apps for over two days, I have realized that Play Books is far better than iBooks in several ways.
The fact that Apple was caught, and subsequently fined, for fixing and raising eBook prices from five major American publishers doesn't help the case either.
It is no secret that Apple hasn't been paying much attention to this part of their ecosystem for a long time, but all that may change soon after the rebranding. Till then, there are plenty of options available in the market and Play Books is a solid contender.
Next up: Looking for free and discounted eBooks to ramp up your collection? Look no further. Read the below guide to learn about 10 sites to get the best eBook deals.