Google quietly announced the addition of an online magazine reader this week, which works within its Google Play media and applications store. The Magazines section of Google Play allows you to search for, purchase, subscribe to, and now, read magazines right in the Chrome web browser. Magazines can be purchased individually or on a subscription basis via an Android phone, tablet or the web (for non-Android users).
Magazines are still a somewhat recent addition to the Google Play Store, having first arrived in June 2012 for U.S. users, and just last week, having come to Australia. The store offers hundreds of titles from many major publishers, including Hearst, Condé Nast, Meredith, Bonnier, and others. While many of the publishers aren’t offering much else beyond a digital copy of their printed pages, Google estimates that around 10% of the magazines housed in the Play Store at present offer some sort of “interactivity.” That means clickable content and media, a table of contents linked to the articles, and more. In other words – not just a PDF thrown up on the web with a price tag attached.
To read the magazines in Chrome, the process is simple. Following your purchase, a “Read” button will appear beneath the “Subscribe” button on the left-hand side of the magazine’s listing in the Play Store. Click this button to launch the Web Reader. The Reader offers a sidebar detailing the various sections, zoom controls, and a full screen button.
And here’s an interesting tidbit: while obviously, the web reader is meant to augment the reading options for Google’s Android user base, the magazine reading experience actually works in Google’s Chrome browser app on iOS, as well. To be clear, the Web Reader is not designed to work on iOS, but it’s “functional” in a pinch. That may change in the future, however, as the app is improved. Currently, magazine reading progress doesn’t sync between web and mobile/tablet, but that functionality is in the works, says Google. (Progress will sync between Android devices, though). Magazines are available to the majority of Android users, on “Froyo” (2.2) and up via the Google Play Magazines app. For web readers, Google Chrome is required.