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article imageGoogle Assistant can now read your audiobooks aloud

By James Walker     Jan 24, 2018 in Technology
Google's announced it has started selling audiobooks through the Play Store, adding to its existing catalogue of apps, ebooks, and media. Audiobooks include direct integration with Assistant, letting you listen to books read aloud by smart home hardware.
"Affordable" Audible alternative
The Google Play Store has housed a large collection of digital content since its launch. Until today, audiobooks have always been absent, despite their soaring popularity with consumers. In a blog post today, Google said audiobooks are now available from the Play Store in 45 countries worldwide.
Android users can now purchase and download audiobooks without installing third-party apps. Google's moving into a market currently dominated by Amazon's Audible service. Unlike Audible, Google won't be pushing users to pay for monthly subscriptions. The Play Store will offer audiobooks at "affordable" prices without making you sign up for an ongoing plan.
Although Audible also sells standalone titles, Amazon promotes its $15/month subscription as the best way to consume the service. Google's decision to focus on individual audiobooks could make the Play Store more attractive to irregular listeners who only occasionally consume purchased content.
Assistant and audiobooks
Google's also deeply integrating the audiobooks experience into Google Assistant. Assistant-compatible smart home hardware can now read purchased books aloud when you say "OK Google, read my book." Other voice commands let you find out information about the book or schedule reading to end at a certain time. This is ideal for people who listen to audiobooks while in bed or during time-limited relaxation periods.
"With audiobooks on Google Play, rolling out today in 45 countries and nine languages, you can turn your time stuck in traffic, on the treadmill, or waiting in line into reading time," said Google. "Find your next great read at an affordable price, and enjoy it across Android, iOS and the web with Google Play Books, as well as on devices that include the Google Assistant, like Google Home and many others."
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The launch of audiobooks expands two of Google's most important services. It fills a hole in the Play Store's catalogue while simultaneously helping Assistant become useful in more scenarios. Diversifying Assistant's applications could be key to its success, showing consumers that the AI can help whether they're at work, on the move or relaxing at home.
Play Store audiobooks are available from today in nine languages. Assistant is currently supported globally in English. Google also confirmed audiobooks will be coming to the Assistant on Android Auto. This will launch "soon" in the U.S.
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