Google Books offers a satisfactory experience for all those e-reader lovers out there. The user interface takes another queue at the carousel view, displaying book covers in a showroom-like fashion. Tapping on any one of the books will automatically load the book, presenting readers with a lovely book-like landscape or portrait view. Flicking the pages is smooth, accompanied by a digital animation of a page being turned; the responsiveness of the app is excellent, especially as it should emulate real book reading. Both landscape and portrait modes are readable in their default form – the font size is perfect, paragraph format and spacing are great. When read in the ASUS Transformer’s stunning IPS display, both day and night modes offer an excellent viewing experience, especially with its 178-degree viewing angle.
For a default app, Books has some extra features that are essential for any reader. Tapping on the Aa icon on the upper right side takes one to the advanced options menu, giving one options to set day/night reading mode and display brightness, font size, text or scan format, and line height. There is also an option to make the e-books ready for offline viewing, so people can read their favorite books even without internet access.
Accessing more titles is made easy by Books’ integration with the Google Market. When launched, the Market immediately goes to the Books sub-category, showing the same homepage but instead of apps, books and magazine titles are being displayed and advertised. Books are organized in Trending, Top Rated and Top Free titles, as well as categories based on interest and genre. Downloading or purchasing books are similar to the process in apps, as is in managing them in the library.
Honeycomb’s GMail app is vastly superior to other versions seen in Android. Aside from the more comfortable interface thanks to the 16:9 screen ratio of the tablet, it also makes full use of the browser version’s layout; avid desktop GMail users should feel right at home with this ecosystem. The left panel hosts the standard email options such as compose, the inbox and organized folders, while the opposite side displays a list of email messages and of course the contents of a selected email. It’s worthy of note that the email view is just like the browser version; similar emails are grouped into conversation view, and embedded images and videos are in their correct format when viewed. Users can easily type in replies, or even interact with the message if it were a website with a text box, for example. Composing a message however is more streamlined, instead of the traditional form it now displays the message in a cleaner paper-like layout.
So basically, almost all of the functions found in GMail are available and work correctly in the app version. Messages moved, deleted and archived are instantly synchronized across all GMail versions under the same account, while changes to contacts and calendar are immediately synced to Android versions – I could see the changes I made on the Transformer to my Desire HD’s contact list and vice-versa. Simply put, email functionality of Honeycomb is no different from that on the desktop, which is a good thing.
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