Monday, February 09, 2009

Google Book Search Mobile Version

Google have conducted a very low profile launch of a mobile version of their Google Book Search. This allows you to search for books using a mobile phone and view the full contents of some of them. Google are using Web for display: that is HTML with JavaScript is used for an interactive web interface. One problem seems to be that the interface depends on JavaScript. Using the Opera web browser with JavaScript turned off I was unable to view the books. There appears to be no "Basic HTML mode" as there is with the desktop version of the book search. One good feature is that the mobile version can be used on a desktop web browser, which may be of use if you have limited bandwidth.

There is no use of PDF or other e-Book formats. An example is "Oliver Twist". In practice you need a smart phone with larger screen and a keyboard to make this practical. One limitation is that there are very few free books currently available. Most of the searches I conducted for free books only found historical documents hundreds of years old. Another limitation is that older documents appear to be in the form of page images, rather than real text. This will result in them taking longer to download and be harder to read on a small screen. These are limitations which other e-books have as well.

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